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Portal News: Dangerously “Mimics the Media”

Posted May. 30, 2007 03:06,   


Manager Kim of the PR team at a company gets a headache whenever he requests correcting or deleting misinformation on Internet portals. That is because in many cases, portals post articles for the several hours that were requested to be corrected or deleted by the media company for fear of possible problems.

“They keep exposing the wrong information on the portals. They shouldn’t do such a thing if they have the slightest sense of responsibility.”

In fact, side effects of portal news serving as the media are emerging, but the portals argue, “We are not playing the role of the media. We just post the news of media companies,” without acknowledging their responsibility.

The hottest potato surrounding the portal news is that the portals take advantage of the strong market dominance and “the right to edit news articles” as a de facto “Big Brother.”

What is more problematic, in particular, is that the portals not only fail to post articles not favorable to them on their main pages based on their editing rights, but also arrange those that support their argument or preferences on top, trying to exercise their influence in the media.

The Internet Media Association and the Internet Journalists Association announced on May 21, “Portals themselves do not disclose criticizing articles, so opinion distortion is taking place when making the issue of portals public is ignored.”

The severity of untrustworthy and inaccurate news and related side effects is high.

Internet news continues to be updated, so the competition to post breaking news is fierce. Without careful attention, misinformation is highly likely to be posted.

The “erotic actor scandal” in March this year shows how dangerous portal competition over reporting breaking news can be, as all the information is not filtered well. At that time, when top-ranking search results were related to the scandal, some Internet media outlets posted misinformation and confused the person at issue with the ex-wife of an actor with the same name.

Last year, there was a great stir online after an article on the death of a singer Lee Hyun-woo was posted as a main news story without verification.

Another problem is the level of indecency surrounding celebrities. On May 29, only 28 articles, or 56 percent of the “news with highest hits,” were related to entertainment. On the Yahoo Korea portal, the top-ranking news story was “Shim Hye-jin’s Husband, a former Son-In-Law in a Millionaire Family,” and nine of 30 news articles were celebrity-related.

Naver said on the issue, “We select ‘the most clipped news’ besides the ‘most read news’ and don’t include that many indecent stories.”

On the argument that the portals play an agenda-setting role, it said, “We monitor media websites and post articles that show up the most as our main news. We have no intention to cause a stir.”

mikemoon@donga.com sublime@donga.com