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Government to Take Legal Action against Editorials and Columns

Government to Take Legal Action against Editorials and Columns

Posted August. 04, 2003 21:47,   


The government has decided to take legal measures against newspaper commentaries based on unconfirmed information. In addition, even if a report were found true, the government will still file a criminal or civil suit against ill-intentioned editorials and columns.

A senior official at the presidential office in charge of promoting the government`s policies said Monday, “The government has told government agencies to take necessary legal action against newspaper editorials and columns in cases where the writer`s personal opinion is based on false information. The government will take aggressive measures against the media when it falsifies its reporting by mobilizing every possible means. This includes cases where articles are written by outside experts and high-ranking government officials. In addition, the government will push for a plan that ministers or vice ministers defend government policies by giving public explanations through the Internet.”

The official went on to say, “In the past, the government has taken proper measures against problematic news reports, but was reluctant to take countermeasures against columns and editorials written with personal opinions based on false information. From now on, however, the government will provide full support to help government agencies receive legal advice from lawyers belonging to the government when they are filing a lawsuit against media outlets.”

Presidential spokesman Yoon Tae-young explained president Roh`s remarks made during a policy forum with government officials on August 2 that government officials should take legal action against commentaries written with personal opinions by saying, “The president meant that the government will take legal measures not only against wrongful reporting, but also against biased and incorrect newspaper editorials and columns with malicious intentions.”

Prior to the government announcement, director of the presidential office for public relations Cho Young-dong claimed, “Editorial writers at newspaper companies do indeed sometimes write commentaries based on unconfirmed news reports without collecting the necessary evidence. Therefore, the government needs to take tough measures against ill-intentioned newspaper editorials based on false and distorted truths.”

President Roh also urged government officials during Monday`s forum to take legal steps against unfair and biased news reports.

However, one journalist pointed out, “It is unfair for the government to take legal action against critical newspaper commentaries because it will only lead to undermine the role of the media.”

Young-Hae Choi yhchoi65@donga.com