Truth requires freedomThe Government Information Agency has announced that it will shut down the pressrooms at government agencies tomorrow.
Reporters at 11 government agencies, including nine ministries, were ordered to leave their pressrooms by today.
If reporters refuse to conform with the order, the agency said it would remove their desks from the pressrooms and cut their telephone and Internet lines. The reporters have been asked to move to a single new briefing center at the Central Government Complex in downtown Seoul.
We have opposed this so-called new media policy, which is supposed to “assist” the media, and have demanded the government stop shutting pressrooms because the policy infringes on the people’s right to know and restrains freedom of speech.
The prime minister’s instructions, which were withdrawn due to strong opposition, show the government’s true intentions. Under these undemocratic rules reporters were supposed to ask the public relations offices of government agencies for permission to talk to public employees and could only interview them in an official meeting room.
Shutting down the pressrooms is the final volley in a series of shots the administration has fired at the media, which has been critical of the government.
The administration sees the media as its enemy and encourages government agencies to file complaints against media reports. It revised laws governing newspapers, strengthened the Fair Trade Commission’s investigative authority and required all public organizations to discuss advertisements with the Government Information Agency before running them in newspapers.
Even those parts of the media which are favorable toward the administration oppose the closure of the existing pressrooms. Meanwhile, the administration has been paying a salary of more than a hundred million won per year to the head of the Government Information Agency without accountability.
The National Assembly should investigate the uses of this money. Since presidential hopefuls also oppose the closure of the pressrooms, this money is likely to be recovered during the next administration.
But the administration is wasting several billion won to shut down the pressrooms. Who will take responsibility?
The administration should listen to reason and stop persisting with an outdated plan that will subject Korea to the ridicule of the world.