The Words of the Gaylord Family
Former Japanese Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi receives applause from Dr. Pak, conference co-chairman Jacques Soustelle and former U.S. Secretary of the Interior James Watt.
In his opening speech to the seventh World Media Conference, Father challenged the 700 participating media professionals to "recover the public trust, draft an accurate account of history, and gain the approval of God." Publishers, editors and journalists from the print and electronic media had descended upon Tokyo from 88 different countries to discuss the topic "Media Credibility and Social Responsibility" at the beautiful New Otani Hotel.
In harmonious Oriental surroundings, with a traditional Japanese garden and equally traditional Japanese hospitality and helpfulness, the large group soon felt at ease. The media is losing credibility because it has abused its power, and it is up to us to change that trend; this was Father's basic message. In his absence, the speech was delivered by Dr. Bo Hi Pak, president of the World Media Association.
"For the journalist, freedom of the press must be exercised according to certain moral standards which are the common ground for all free men," Father wrote. "This is where the responsibility of the media comes in. For this reason, as founder of the World Media Conference, I emphasize and fight for press freedom as well as the moral responsibility of the media."
Although he did not say it, it must have become clear to many of the participants that it was largely because of irresponsible journalism and sensationalism that his name became unjustly smeared throughout the world, resulting in his subsequent imprisonment. "Ladies and gentlemen, I am writing this message to you from the United States federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut," Father concluded. "More than anybody else, I understand the preciousness of freedom. But I cannot bend my own principles for the sake of my own freedom. I am fighting against injustice and government encroachment not only on my freedom, but on the freedom of millions of oppressed people on the earth."
"Media credibility has plummeted in recent years, with surveys showing that less and less people trust what they see and hear in the media these days", Father said. "You must be strong and free enough to resist the tampering of governments, and you must be moral and righteous and stand up for justice, or you will abuse the faith of the people and eventually lose press freedom," he added. "The lesson of history is that the result of the abuse of power is the loss of freedom."
The prime minister of Japan, Yasuhiro Nakasone, sent a telegram to the conference, regretting that he could not attend. "As the world enters into the age of a society with highly developed information, the social role of the media increases," he wrote. "At a time like this, I believe that it is extremely significant that experts and scholars such as yourselves have gathered to reassess the social responsibility of the media toward the 21st century."
He was echoed by Foreign Minister Shintaro Abe, who wrote, "I pray this conference will contribute tremendously to peace in the world." This year's conference chairman was a former Japanese prime minister, Nobusuke Kishi, who brought an atmosphere of dignity and respect into the plenary session of the conference. He described the power of the media as a "two-edged sword" which, if correctly employed, will help rescue mankind from the present crises and will contribute to bringing peace and harmony in the world. But if it is abused, he warned, the crises will be further aggravated and man's march toward destruction will be accelerated.
The conference, the largest so far, ran surprisingly smoothly for its size, and many participants expressed amazement at the excellent planning and coordination. Larry Moffitt, executive director of the conference, put it all down to his tireless staff, who spared no energy in serving the guests' needs. At the working group sessions, high-quality papers were presented which stimulated lively question-and-answer sessions afterwards. Issues such as "Media and National Security," "Media as Public Servant," "Media Values and News Judgment," and "Media on the Ideological, Social and Political Frontlines," generated a burst of interest.
Simultaneous translation into English, Japanese, Spanish, and French greatly facilitated communication between participants and panelists. One suggestion put forward by participants from the third world was that future conferences should take their viewpoint more into consideration, instead of representing a strongly American point of view. All proposals were taken into consideration, and will no doubt help to shape next year's conference, which is to be held in Washington.
This year's deputy chairmen of the conference were Ambassador Douglas McArthur II, nephew of the great general of the same name, and Dr. Jacques Soustelle, former vice prime minister of France and a member of the French Academy. Most mealtimes were highlighted by interesting speeches from special guests such as former secretary of the interior James Watt, Kathryn McDonald, the widow of the late congressman Larry McDonald who was in the Korean airliner shot down by the Soviets, and Kagehisa Tohyama, president of Radio Nippon.
Participants had time to do some shopping and visit some of the sights in the bustling metropolis, and were treated to a spectacular farewell banquet featuring traditional Japanese music and dance. The significance of The World Media Conference, as one of the participants put it, is that it brings together like-minded people with the urge to communicate, and gives them a sense of comradeship and optimism for the future.
Despite the massive power of the so- called "East coast media elite," who influence policymaking with their views instead of reporting the news, the majority of people at the grassroots level read their local newspapers which tell a different story, said one Texas editor. The friendships which are formed, stretching bands around the world, are creating a solidarity between communicators of integrity which will eventually overcome the power of the biased media giants.
After the conference the group split up three ways, with the majority of the participants continuing on to a CAUSA seminar in Seoul, a small group visiting China for a fact-finding tour, and the rest having to return home. The site for the CAUSA seminar was the Lotte Hotel, where the fifth World Media Conference took place two years ago. The high quality of service and heart that we all felt in Korea continues to grow.
The day we arrived, the report came through that one South Korean and three North Korean border guards had been killed when a Soviet tourist defected across the border at Panmunjom. Since we were scheduled to visit this place three days later, tension was high and we all wondered if the trip would take place. The incident added emphasis and a sense of "now" to the excellent CAUSA lectures, which highlight the threat of communism and offer a positive alternative. The accompanying slide illustrations, which underline the content of the lectures, were praised by many, as were the high quality audiovisual presentations.
Tom Ward, vice president of CAUSA International, gave a strong personal witness to the vision and untiring labors of our Father to overcome the ideology of communism. The trip to Panmunjom, which was permitted after all, shook many people deeply, and the visit to the North Korean tunnels was an education about communist determination. It was living proof of what we had heard in the lectures.
If there was any remaining skepticism, it was surely erased at the final banquet, held at the beautiful Little Angels School. After touring the classrooms, guided by the students in their traditional Korean flowing dresses, the group was treated to an incomparable performance of the Little Angels' dancing and singing group after dinner. Said one reporter from a Midwest newspaper, "It was better than anything you would see at Radio City Music Hall!"
In moving testimonies afterwards, several of the participants expressed their high regard for both conferences. Having given them a forum for their ideas at the Media Conference, they were open to listen to our worldview at the CAUSA seminar. And it will surely bear fruit which will multiply in the form of more objective reporting and a stronger effort to reach the truth.