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Misguided Government Information Policy

Posted October. 28, 2005 07:38,   


At the beginning of this year, a public relations official from a certain committee affiliated with the government was strongly reproached by his superior when he tried to contact the press to inform it that the numerical figures in an article of daily newspaper shown on the internet were wrong. The reason for the reproach was the policy that one must wait until an article is published on paper so that one can file a formal application for a corrected report to the Press Arbitration Commission.

This employee objected to this, saying, "Isn`t it better to fix the mistake before the paper is delivered to the readers?” But the employee’s objection was not accepted. The employee expressed his discontent by saying, "Is it right to pursue government information by classifying simple mistakes as problematic reporting and file for a corrected report? This just confuses the public."

The current government`s government information policy has deviated from the right path. The government does not focus on correctly informing the citizens of state affairs. Instead, it attaches more weight to increasing the number of cases it files against the press.

The participatory government has prohibited reporters from interviewing public officials at the beginning of its inauguration, and starting this year, it has encouraged individual ministries to file suits under the pretext of transparent response against the press. Yang Seung-mok, a journalism professor at Seoul National University said, "With a militant policy that regards the press as the enemy, the government cannot create a healthy relationship with the press and cannot inform the public effectively. I regret that the government lacks the will and the open mind to communicate with the public through the press."

Jong-Dae Ha orionha@donga.com