Truth Is My Sword Volume I - Collected Speeches in the Public Arena

by Bo Hi Pak

Proper Role of the Media

September 5, 1983

The Sixth World Media Conference occurred a few days after Soviet jets on September 1, 1983, shot down a Korean Airlines passenger jet over Soviet air space with the loss of 269 people aboard, including conservative U.S. Congressman Larry McDonald. The tragedy helped underscore the evil of communism and provided a serious backdrop for the conference, the theme of which was the relationship between the media of the developed world and the developing world. The following opening remarks were made at the Sixth World Media Conference at the Hilton Hotel in Cartagena, Colombia, on September 5, 1983.

Dr. Arciniegas, Dr. Soustelle, Reverend Moon, vice chairmen, and distinguished participants of the Sixth World Media Conference. Once again, we welcome you to another gathering of the World Media Association. We particularly enjoy being here in the beautiful city of Cartagena. Our gratitude goes out to the Colombian government and the Colombian people who have truly opened their hearts and provided us with every kind of assistance possible in the preparation of this conference. We especially want to thank the governor of the Department of Bolivar, the Honorable Marun Gasain, and the mayor of the city of Cartagena. The reception here has been as smooth and comfortable as possible. They really have gone far beyond the normal courtesies as host, and I hope you will join me in thanking Governor Gasain and Mayor Emiliani.

In my welcoming remarks each year I always mention that this is the largest World Media Conference we have sponsored to date, and that is true for this year as well. After registration last night, I was informed that we have in attendance 502 participants from 92 countries. Counting spouses and staff, we have then well over 600 people attending this conference. I will let you in on a little secret. Originally, I told Larry Moffitt to keep the number of participants to 400. When he informed me that the number had somehow ballooned to 502, I was shocked. However, after reading the list of those invited, I realized that even though Larry disobeyed me, we have assembled perhaps the most distinguished group of publishers, editors, broadcasters, columnists, reporters, and scholars ever. Now my problem is whether to fire Larry or give him a raise. Another thing I am happily able to report every year is that the location of the conference is more beautiful than the previous one. Since last year's conference took place in my homeland of Korea, let me just say that the setting for this conference is just as beautiful.

Media Responsibility

As I said, this is a most distinguished gathering. Yet even more important is the subject matter we gather to discuss. Particularly critical in this conference is the keynote session, which is titled, "The Responsibility of the Media in Improving North-South Communication and Cooperation."

Media responsibility-these two words hold sway as the most serious in the vocabulary of the directors of News World Communications, which sponsors the World Media Association. In bringing you here from every part of the world to have you express your points of view, the World Media Association is putting its money where its mouth is. If it were not for media power, there would be no need to hold a conference on media responsibility. It has been said that if a tree falls in the forest but the media do not report on it, then it never happened.

But as you know, the media do not passively record events; they influence and create public opinion. For example, a decidedly anti-U.S. media generated much of the outcry against American efforts in the Vietnam War, especially from within the United States itself. But what was the bottom-line result of Vietnam? The Boat People, for one. As many as half a million Vietnamese drowned in the South China Sea attempting to escape from communism. The media covered the Buddhist monk who set himself on fire in Saigon protesting religious persecution, but could not find the same compassion and caring for the millions of Vietnamese and Cambodians dying at the hands of their own governments.

The collective world media have the power to pave the way for understanding between the First World and the Third World. A free media bear the responsibility to embrace the resentment of poor nations toward wealthy nations and the indifference of developed nations toward underdeveloped nations. We should be on a personal crusade to use our power to create unity among divided people, promoting healing between races and classes and rejecting the violent and bloodthirsty dialectical approach. Indeed, the expansion of communism in our world is as much the responsibility of media as it is the failure of governments.

That we are holding this Media Association in Latin America is fitting. Even though you may live on the other side of the planet, and it took you 20 hours to fly here, I assure you that the future of Latin America will profoundly affect your own future. The winner of the ideological war in Latin America will eventually find its way to your doorstep.

Fact-finding Tours

In addition to this event, the World Media Association has been sponsoring fact-finding tours of journalists to the world's trouble spots. We want to provide opportunities for journalists like yourselves to observe and assess news events on location as they happen. We go where history is being made to let you see the situation with your own eyes, ask your own questions, draw your own conclusions. Earlier this year the World Media Association conducted a tour of Central America involving 155 journalists from 45 countries. We visited Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Costa Rica in order to speak with members of the local media, with ministers of defense, its army officers, and even with a president. We did it because we know the future of Central America is the future of the free world.

Next month, when demonstrations are held all over Europe against the placement of Pershing missiles, we will be there with 120 journalists from around the world. We intend to discuss every aspect of the peace movement with experts from all sides of the equation. The World Media Association exists to examine issues in the context of their relationship to the media. We seek to establish what is the responsibility of the media as a recorder of events, as an historian, as a watchdog of governments, and as an opinion leader.

The World Media Association and our related fact-finding tours are interested in one thing only: the truth. The Bible says, "You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free." We seek to know the truth and to communicate it. Our God-given mission is to uncover it and shout it to the world-not a double-standard truth, not a distorted truth, not a self-serving, perverted truth. Just the truth."

Sometimes it may be hard to believe that such a commodity exists, but it does. Too often the truth is buried under something else, put in prison, forced to travel in disguise, or more often simply killed at birth.

The liberation of the truth is one of the goals of the founder of the World Media Association. Reverend Sun Myung Moon initiated the World Media Association out of a desire to preserve democracy and press freedom, creating a forum where the world press could examine itself by itself. If the media would take responsibility to serve as their own best critic, it would be less likely for the free press to be forced under the control of government.

Though Reverend Moon founded this conference six years ago, he has been present at only one other Media Association, and we consider ourselves greatly honored that he is with us for this year's gathering.

Eminent Chairmen: We hope constructive ideas will occur to you during the course of this conference as you meet in your sessions and discuss the ideas presented by the wide variety of speakers with us today. In addition to the North-South problem, you will examine the relationship of media to revolution, assess the media on their human rights record, try to determine the roots of economic imperialism, and determine the proper role of the media. That is a lot to do in only three days, but it is a challenge worthy of your abilities.

Fortunately, two very capable co-chairmen will assist you in this task. I particularly want to express my heartfelt gratitude to Dr. German Arciniegas and Dr. Jacques Soustelle for presiding over the conference. We consider ourselves fortunate to have one chairman from a country of the southern hemisphere and one from a country of the northern hemisphere.

I am sure that those of you who read the major newspapers of Latin America and Europe are already familiar with Dr. Arciniegas. His column regularly appears in more than 400 newspapers and is a constant source of inspiration and irritation to those in power.

Dr. Soustelle of France is equally distinguished. Dr. Soustelle has served in various diplomatic posts and was vice prime minister under President Charles De Gaulle. His recent election to the prestigious French Academy confirms his colleagues' recognition of him as one of his country's leading thinkers and statesmen.

We are honored by the presence of these two gentlemen and honored further that they have consented to be co-chairmen for the Sixth World Media Conference. Please join me in expressing our appreciation.

You are in a most historic city, on the coast of the most beautiful part of this Caribbean nation, and we want not only to give you time to see and appreciate the beautiful countryside but to be our guests as well. After the final day of meetings, you have your choice of taking a tour of the fortress city of Cartagena or of visiting the Rosario Islands, with its bright sunshine and turquoise water.

In order to fulfill your part of the bargain, please conscientiously attend the sessions and, what is more, you will receive maximum benefit from your participation. Thank you and God bless you.

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