IFJ Backs Media Reform in Korea and Calls for an "End to Wasteful War of Words"
The International Federation of Journalists, the world's largest journalists' organisation, today reiterated support for calls for reform of Korea's press landscape in order to contribute to building democracy in the country and to assist the inter-Korea reconciliation process. "Press freedom is a cornerstone of democracy and will be one of the fundamental principles for political unity and reconciliation between North and South," said Christopher Warren, IFJ President. The IFJ says that powerful press companies currently protesting over taxation cases against them should not confuse their fiscal problems with the objective of creating a media landscape in which press freedom and journalistic independence are guaranteed. The IFJ says the defence of powerful media interests should not get in the way of much-needed reforms and has called on press owners to end to a "wasteful war of words and join in the dialogue with other media companies, civil organizations, and media professionals to formulate an agenda for true media reform." The IFJ has reiterated its policy, which was agreed at its world Congress in Seoul two months ago. "Journalists in Korea demand media reforms because they have seen how dangerous is the problem of interference in journalism not only by government, but also by media owners and groups representing large capital," says the IFJ. "Journalists must be allowed to work freely without undue pressure, whether by the authorities or powerful media owners." "The case of Silvio Berlusconi in Italy is a vivid example of the need for editorial independence in an age when media owners are increasingly able to wield undue influence over the media message to suit their political or commercial interests," said Christopher Warren. The IFJ calls for media reform that: Precludes interference by media owners, large capital, and the government from media reports and commentary. Creates transparency in newspaper management and a more ordered market for the newspaper business. Establishes support of minority media, including local newspapers in particular, to ensure diversity of opinion in the media market. The IFJ, which has taken a deep interest in the Korean media movement led by Journalists Association of Korea, Korea Federation of Press Unions, and civil organizations since 1988 and produced a mission report on the media situation in 1991, says that the ultimate subjects of media reform are the journalists themselves. "To secure media independence and increased professionalism, the work of Korean journalists' groups to remain autonomous must be supported. Media reform must proceed with the participation of everyone concerned," said Christopher Warren. The IFJ says it will remain vigilant against any possible political motives that might underlie Kim Dae-Jung administration's media reform measures and is urging that court cases on tax charges against media companies are carried out transparently and fairly under international legal standards. The IFJ has called on press owners to end to a "wasteful war of words and join in the dialogue with other media companies, civil organizations, and media professionals to formulate an agenda for true media reform." "International media organisations should refrain from making commentary, as some have, based on information provided by vested interests," said Warren. "We all need to engage in efforts for more balance, more consensus and less confrontation."