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[Editorial] Distorted Statistics

Posted May. 23, 2006 03:00,   


The administration briefings led by the Public Information Office are an unprecedented experiment in world media history. The office has staff for covering and editing, and makes reports and comments and raises issues. They not only give an explanation about government policies and publicize them, but also play the role of commentator. That is like a movie director trying to make comments on the movie he made himself because he doesn’t like the reviews made about his movie.

Columns run in the briefing contain content criticizing critical media rather than explaining current issues in the administration. The briefing denounced the media, saying that the era of the media monopolizing agendas is gone. The national agenda should be established by the government, the media and the civil society all together. Any of them cannot monopolize it.

In fixing the agenda, the government, the media and the civil society play different roles. The government and the media should not try to function as civil society, and the media cannot play the government’s role.

The administration briefing and the Cheong Wa Dae briefing are jointly publishing “Real estate: Now, let’s change our thoughts,” in a series. After the media attacked the flip-flopping real estate policy and the tax bomb, the briefing counterattacked the media with the provoking title: “A country in which the conservative media live on the real estate bubble.” Kim Byung-joon, the chief presidential policymaker, contended that the leading newspapers inflated the real estate market because of the advertisements. It seems like that this government’s practice of pointing the finger at the media and blaming them is an incurable disease.

The statistics presented by government officials and the administration briefing contain distorted data. The Deputy Prime Minister for Finance and Economy Han Duck-soo said that the housing prices in Gangnam’s three districts in Seoul are a bubble as they are 18.9 times the annual earnings of urban workers. This figure came from the comparison between last year’s annual earnings of urban workers (39,010,000 won) and house prices with 33 pyeong in Gangnam’s three districts. Although the earnings of Gangnam residents should be compared in order to analyze the Gangnam bubble, the average earnings extracted from the national sample survey were used. They are attempting to strain the statistics to stigmatize the increased housing prices as a bubble, even though the real estate prices are different, depending on the region.

The administration’s briefings have asserted that it is the government-controlled alternative medium for communication with the people, but it seems to us that it is just a tool to deceive the people with false policies and to gag the media. The briefings are highly likely to be a failed experiment as they breed discord within the media and make the people stressed.