Thursday, December 26, 2013

Misuse of the Mass Media

The mass media in Korea, like the rest of the world, is subject to criticism for the way it transmits the news. In the Peace Weekly column on the Diagnosis of Current Events, the writer explores a serious problem in  journalism: the ideological battles that are given prominent exposure on front pages of newspapers and in opening remarks on news channels throughout the world. He considers this the primary reason for the divisions in society. Uplifting concepts like mutual respect and compromise, reconciliation, solidarity, trust, win-win outcomes, and peace are nowhere to be found. And when we look deeper, he says, beneath the maneuvering for advantages and power, we see an increase of ideology, not less, with a stubbornness of  will that refuses to give an inch. In such confrontations, the point at issue becomes clouded, the willingness to re-think positions disappears. News sources, often trying to get their readers to join their  ideological stance, are further alienating many of their readers. 

As these efforts continue pitting one side against the other: conservatives against  progressives, left against right,  pro-Japanese against anti-Japanese, pro-Communist against anti-Communists, the battle between the different ideologies tends to intensify, fostering divisions and conflict within society.

The first obligation of media, according to the writer, is to present the facts accurately, objectively and fairly, and only then present their opinions. When discussing the same issue or event the facts should be the same, says the writer, as he reminds us of the saying of Confucius that we should be strictly fair when we criticize. But what frequently happens in presenting the news is the lack of differentiating between opinion and facts. If, for instance, it's reported that "Mr. Kim said the chances are great that  (A) did it," it makes it seem this is the objective fact.

He then shows, with examples, how this is done in many news articles. Objective, accurate facts are not presented as such, but appear introduced by terms such as "often we was was foresees."  We are not told "who did the hearing...who said what...who sees and foresees." This is one way the news source makes it seem that the majority goes along with their understanding, thus confirming that they are a reliable news source.

The second obligation of media is not to abuse the use of anonymity of the news-gatherer. There are times this is required, but this is overly used by such reporting:as "a party concerned...a key person...a services, and the like. When these terms are routinely used to promote the editorial policy of the paper,  there is likely to be a distortion of the news, and at times the paper creates a public personality, whose aspirations are most often political, and who supports the ideological position of the paper.

He concludes the column with a quote from Pope Francis: 'We must not be blinded by greed for profit and power." He goes on to plead for all those who at this time of Christmas are fighting over issues of advantages and power, and hopes sincerely that they will find  peace.

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