Lessons in making apologies

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Lessons in making apologies

Japan’s Nippon Television (NTV) aired a false report last November and now plans to produce a program on the incident in a bid to prevent the same mistake from happening again. The broadcaster intends to reveal in detail how it happened to air the false report.

The program reported that Gifu Prefecture, among others, had raised a slush fund. The source was an executive at a construction company. Later, however, it turned out that the information supplied was false.

The broadcaster immediately aired a correction, its president resigned and the executive director was disciplined, showing that they took full responsibility for the incident. Late last month, after its own internal investigation, the Broadcasting Ethics and Program Development Organization (BPO), a nongovernmental body, advised the broadcaster to air a self-evaluation program about the report and how it violated broadcasting ethics.

NTV, which acted on the advice, is clearly aware of a broadcaster’s responsibility to its viewers and has done its best to deliver a sincere apology.

Such an attitude is a million miles from the one adopted by MBC after its report on the resumption of beef imports from the United States.

Even though it has been revealed that an episode of “PD Diary” distorted and manipulated material, the broadcaster has not sincerely accepted that it was at fault.

So far MBC executives have accepted an order by the Korea Communications Standards Commission and aired a reluctant apology.

Our broadcasting industry must learn a lesson from the BPO’s advice to NTV: “TV reports deliver a vast amount of information as the truth to viewers and thus have a huge influence. It’s essential that the facts are correct.

“However, false information is frequently reported, creating a negative image of broadcasting. Hence, producers also often feel2 misled, or they feel self-righteous,” the BPO pointed out.

The organization also criticized the way broadcasters prioritize visual clips and collect only comments and segments that suit the original purpose of the programs.

It’s a chronic problem for Korean broadcasters as well.

The solution is to stay alert and not to make the same mistakes. NTV took the advice to air a self-evaluation program, which can be quite humiliating, probably because the station is determined to make efforts not to make the same mistake again.

Our broadcasting companies must check thoroughly information in programs before and after they are aired if they want to produce fair and accurate programs.

That would be the right way to prevent a second case of extreme panic over mad cow disease.
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