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Moon stresses need for free and fair press

President Moon Jae-in on Thursday emphasized the importance of freedom of the press, saying the press has helped shape his great and free nation.

Moon also stressed, however, the need for the press to adapt to rapid change in the newspaper business and to strive for fairer and more accurate reporting.

President Moon Jae-in gives a speech at the event marking the country`s newspaper day on Thursday. Yonhap
President Moon Jae-in gives a speech at the event marking the country`s newspaper day on Thursday. Yonhap

“The reduction in the readership of print newspapers may be an inevitable change in the business environment, but the people‘s expectation for the role of traditional newspapers has not been reduced,” the president said in a ceremony marking the country’s newspaper day.

The president noted that newspapers face three major challenges, including a challenge to the freedom of the press, though he said the problem may have been somewhat addressed since the launch of his administration.

He said the country ranked 69th and 70th in the press freedom index by Reporters Without Borders under the country‘s two former conservative administrations of Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye, but that its ranking climbed to 43rd in 2018, one year after he took office.

“Still, there are many other factors that limit journalists’ conscience and freedom of the press such as newspapers‘ capital, private advertisement funds, social prejudices and ideologies that divide the people,” said the president.

The press also faces a challenge to its credibility, partly due to the vast amount of new information that may have also led to an increase in the amount of fake news, he said.

Lastly, newspapers and journalists are facing challenges to fair reporting.

“We live in a world where people are more likely to turn on their smartphones than open newspapers to read the news. For newspapers, who reported first and whose articles got the most clicks have become important. Many believe such a change may have led to a rise in the number of sensational, shallow and even incomplete reports,” Moon said.

The president insisted there still was hope.

“Many people talk about a crisis in newspapers, but I believe there is a traditional role only newspapers can perform,” said Moon.

“As our newspapers have plowed through many fetters in our history with the people, I expect them to become our partners in building an innovative and inclusive Republic of Korea that is fairer, freer, more democratic and more peaceful,” the president added. (Yonhap)