Friday, June 10, 2016

Free Speech and Democracy

Reporters Without Borders has again this year determined  the freedom of the press index for 180 countries and Korea ranks 70th. The RSF (Reporters Without Borders) has criticized the Government for interference in the  independence of the press. Freedom House also criticized the government for censorship.

A column in the Catholic Times brings this news to the readers, and mentions that even if the report of press subordination and control is exaggerated, when  mass media is looking to see what the authorities will say the results on a free press is crippling. In a country like Korea a free press is a requirement for a democratic society.

When the press becomes a big business and is tied too closely to the financial interests of the country, freedom is sacrificed; advertising income becomes an important issue and democratic maturity suffers.

The aim of a democracy is to enable a pluralism to exist. Authoritarianism and totalitarianism don't allow for this and tries to gain a cohesion of the political, finances, military, culture, while democracy is willing to work with pluralism. Free press is a help in attaining this goal and helping to bring about dialogue  between the different segments in society.

Once this is lost big business begins to dictate the direction of society and justify the status quo.

"Participation without an understanding of the situation of the political community, the facts and the proposed solutions to problems is unthinkable. It is necessary to guarantee a real pluralism in this delicate area of social life, ensuring that there are many forms and instruments of information and communications. It is likewise necessary to facilitate conditions of equality in the possession and use of these instruments by means of appropriate laws. Among the obstacles that hinder the full exercise of the right to objectivity in information, special attention must be given to the phenomenon of the news media being controlled by just a few people or groups. This has dangerous effects for the entire democratic system when this phenomenon is accompanied by ever closer ties between governmental activity and the financial and information establishments" (Compendium of the Social Gospel #414)

"In the world of the media the intrinsic difficulties of communications are often exacerbated by ideology, the desire for profit and political control. rivalry and conflicts between groups, and other social evils.
Moral values and principles apply also to the media. The ethical dimension relates not just to the content of communication (the message) and the process of communication (how the communicating is done) but to fundamental structural and systemic issues, often involving large questions of policy bearing upon the distribution of sophisticated technology and product (who shall be information rich and who shall be information poor?)” (Compendium # 416).

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