Media policy will backfireThe way President Roh sees the media raises some dangerous issues. He even threatened, during a cabinet meeting, that if the media continue to criticize the government’s plan to close or integrate the press rooms, he’ll completely close down all press rooms in government facilities. This is how he judges things, as either black or white, left or right -- like a child. Part of his self-righteousness is that ideas that are different from his own have to go, even if the media is one of the fundamental elements of democracy.
The new measures are designed to block the media from accessing information regarding the government. It is just like the military regimes of the past, when government-related information was provided to the media only by the government.
In words, they promise to sincerely disclose information. But when has a government ever really kept such a promise? Does it ever mention its own wrongdoings before the media does? The government tries to hide information even when asked about it by the media. On some occasions, they even tell lies. The government already controls, directly and indirectly, 11 television and radio channels and Internet newspapers. Isn’t this enough? The government is now trying to independently control news companies. When a reporter wants to meet an official for a story, approval must first be obtained. Within this atmosphere, which government employee would sacrifice himself to disclose important information? It is like tying up the reporters and forcing them to accept only what the government provides, just like water torture.
“Unreasonable practices are coming back in some of the departments,” says Roh. “A reform in the press room system will stop this from happening.”
What “unreasonable practice?” The president should define it. Work should be carried out based only on principles. Oppressing the media with excuses of things that don’t exist is a craven way to behave and is a defamation of the media.
The Kim Dae-jung government closed down the Bureau of Public Information, claiming it spewed propaganda from the government. Then, when the government in power didn’t like the criticism from the media, the bureau came back with a slightly different name, the Government Information Agency.
In a democracy, people with power can be made uncomfortable. Power, however, is not eternal. If this government destroys the democratic media, the negative effects will come back like a boomerang.