Truth Is My Sword Volume I -Collected Speeches in the Public Arena
by Bo Hi Pak
Media News: Fact or Fiction
October 1, 1981
The annual World Media Association conference is a major part of Reverend Moon's effort to promote a free and responsible media. Meeting in different cities throughout the world, the event brings together journalists from all over the world to examine the role of the media in world events. As mangy as 90 nations have been represented at a single conference. Dr. Pak served as president of the World Media Association, which sponsors the conferences, as well as fact-finding tours for journalists to important areas of the world. The following opening remarks were given at the Fourth World Media Conference at the Vista International Hotel in New York's World Trade Center on October 1, 1981.
Dr. John Merrill, session chairmen, distinguished participants and guests. I am always grateful to see such an impressive gathering at this annual World Media Association-especially when we bring you here from so far away, sometimes thousands of miles, and ask you to sit down with each other and search for answers that some say are impossible to find. We want you to find ways to make press freedom succeed in a world where even the word "freedom" is defined in so many different ways.
We petition you to work toward realizing an international code of media ethics that will be workable in the First World and the Third World.
Just mentioning this topic makes some people want to go back to bed and forget about it. We live in a world where one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter-where even the word democracy has one meaning in the free world and another, completely opposite, meaning in the Soviet Union. And yet we have summoned you to address the difficult problem of semantic infiltration and disinformation.
We decided to use El Salvador as a case study in how the powerful U.S. media can completely alter the natural course of a country's history. How accurately, or inaccurately, they report on political events has profound implications. Only now are we beginning to realize how badly done and tragically misleading was the U.S. coverage of the Vietnam War-sometimes with malicious intent-and how it contributed to the communist bloodbath that followed and continues still in Vietnam and Cambodia. Truly, we are now beginning to see that the South Vietnamese and the United States were defeated more in morale by the media than militarily by the enemy, and there will come a time when those who are responsible for that debacle will hang their heads in shame before the world.
Because of the situation in El Salvador, we are asking the participants of this conference to reexamine how the media, particularly the United Sates media, conduct themselves in that part of the world. Self-evaluation is often painful. But we want you to proceed without hesitation in dealing with this topic and with each other, to be honest and to maintain a keen sense of fairness.
I know we will not be able to find a complete solution to the major communications problems of our time in this short 3-day conference. What I do hope for, however, and I think realistically, is that a certain wisdom will help reveal the truth behind the issues we discuss. Not only my truth or your truth, but objective truth-the truth before God. I apologize for bringing you to New York City for such a heavy responsibility. Most visitors come here to be entertained on their vacation. I know in the future there will come a time when we can be more at ease in our deliberations, but I feel strongly that in our time a clear worldwide victory will be won either by those forces that favor a free and independent media or by those favoring a controlled, government-serving media. Ironically, the free press often becomes its own worst enemy when it abuses its freedom. It loses the faith of the people by mixing news with opinion and fiction, without providing labels to tell them a part. From any perspective you choose to take, the free press is in a time of great crisis.
As far as I know, The News World and Noticias del Mundo are the only newspapers to sponsor a conference of such proportions. The reason we see this conference as our responsibility is that we are not just other daily newspapers. I do not mean to sound immodest when I say our papers are special. The fact that they were founded by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon already sets them apart in many people's minds-although often they draw their conclusions before they even read the papers. It is not good that people judge our papers before reading them, but it is right to conclude that they are different and special.
If all we wanted was to be another New York daily, and we were in the business of making money for ourselves, we could find many other uses for the money we spend putting on these annual conferences. But in fact we feel we must involve ourselves in the world and, as a newspaper in America's largest city, we see a great opportunity to help focus responsible thinking on the problems affecting the future of the free press. Reverend Moon is of the opinion that if we do not use 100 percent of our God-given abilities and opportunities to fight injustice and hypocrisy, then we deserve to hang our heads in shame.
We want to do all we can, but we need your expertise and knowledge. All we ask is that you apply yourselves diligently to the topics of the various sessions and arrive at your own conclusions. I have great faith that free discussion among people of integrity can produce wisdom.
Let me take a moment to express my heartfelt gratitude to our chairman this year, Dr. John Merrily director of the school of journalism at Louisiana State University. Though he has been especially busy this year overseeing many new projects at his university, he somehow always finds time to help plan the sessions and assist in choosing topics, speakers, session chairmen, and participants. He spent a great deal of time advising our conference staff and responding to their letters and phone calls.
Dr. Merrill, I thank you. I thank each one of the participants for bringing his or her unique thinking and communication skills to bear on the problem of finding solutions to the freedom-of-information crisis of the 1980s. I know you will do your best. May God bless you.
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