Media Standards and Journalistic Accountability
Sun Myung Moon
March 22, 1989
Tenth World Media Conference
Distinguished Chairman, Esteemed Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen: It is my great pleasure to welcome all of you to the 10th World Media Conference in Washington DC.
It was reported to me that the participants this year, as well as the speaker selection, are by far the most distinguished in the history of the conference. I am delighted to meet you all, many of you for the first time. I hope you are as happy to see me as I am to see you.
As you all know, I am primarily a religious leader. And yet my work has not been limited to the field of religion. I have a tremendous interest in the media. Since 1975, I have created many newspapers and publishing enterprises in different parts of the world. I established a daily newspaper, Sekai Nippo, in Tokyo. In 1976, I founded the New York City Tribune, in New York. I have started Spanish- language dailies, called Noticias del Mundo, in several major cities of the United States. In 1981, I began the daily Ultimas Noticias in Montevideo, Uruguay. In the Middle East, I started the Middle East Times.
But I am most well-known as the person who provided the alternative voice in Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital. After the demise of the 128-year-old Washington Star, the city was left with only one newspaper.
Most Quoted Newspaper
The Washington Times, in less than 7 years, has become a respected newspaper and won many awards for design and editorial content. It is recognized by the Associated Press as one of the three most-quoted newspapers in the United States. The Washington Times Corporation also publishes a weekly news magazine, Insight, and a monthly academic journal, The World and I. Furthermore, I have just returned from Korea, where we launched a new major daily newspaper, the Segye Times, which has achieved a circulation in excess of one million in less than two months. In addition to these publications, in 1978 I founded the World Media Association to explore issues related to media ethics and responsibility.
The question arises, why should a religious leader expend so much effort and resources in media enterprises? My reason is quite simple. It is because I recognize the power of the media. The latter half of the Twentieth Century is an age dominated by communication. The electronic and print media are the most powerful and influential means of communication the world has ever known.
In a world of conflict and differing ideologies, the media plays a large role in determining whether we live in peace or war. My ultimate goal and desire is to achieve lasting world peace — a peace based upon a system of true values. The achievement of this goal is far more likely to be determined by the work of the media than by military might. So perhaps it is accurate to say that this room contains the most powerful people on the face of the earth — those who have the power to shape, for better or worse, the future of mankind.
In spite of the media’s great power, in contrast to the great majority of professions in the world, most free nations have very few laws governing the conduct of the media. Given this situation, when one considers the tremendous power wielded by the free press, it is clear that media professionals must continuously exercise their own powers of self-examination. The World Media Association was created as a forum for that self-examination. Our purpose is to promote the free press wherever freedom of expression does not exist and to promote responsible use of the media where the free press is already established.
The Gift of Freedom
Freedom is one of the most precious gifts from God to man. Man is created to be free, and also to be responsible for how he uses his freedom. To use freedom properly requires self- discipline and self-control, based on a fundamental understanding of right and wrong. When asked to define right and wrong, the answer is often given that anything is acceptable as long as it causes no one any harm. But clearly, even to determine what “harm” is requires an absolute standard — a standard which must derive from the purpose of life itself.
God, being the Creator, has already determined the purpose of human life. Man’s spiritual well-being is realized as he accomplishes his life’s purpose in accordance with the moral laws established by God. When he violates these principles, he invites self-destruction, just as he does when he violates the laws of nature. I say this because, before one is a journalist, or a scholar, or a clergyman, or even a husband or wife — each person is a child of God. We are the sons and daughters of our Creator. This is where our sacred nature and unique human dignity originate. The first responsibility of a human being is to exercise freedom to preserve our God-given value. In order to do this, we must live in accord with basic moral principles given by God.
America is a nation which has put a high value on individual liberties. Americans, and anyone living in America, may worship as they wish, assemble at will and may print or speak just about anything. At the same time, the American founding fathers stressed the concept of self-government. In America today, we find an abundance of freedom, but a shortage of self-government.
Certainly the media must be free, and must be self- governing. And a self-governing media must also be a moral media. What do we mean by a moral media? A moral media uses its freedom to protect, preserve and promote God-given human rights and dignity. The preservation of human rights and human dignity must be the standard of all ethics and morality.
Therefore, the media must stand at the very forefront in the defense of human dignity and freedom and the crusade against all forms of injustice. Doing this is the best possible way to ensure world peace. The media must lead the fight against all forms of oppression. Furthermore, in the service of morality, the media must oppose corruption and racism and vindicate the unjustly accused. A moral media must lead the fight against drug abuse, pornography and many other destructive vices of our society. Thus, the media must become the conscience of society.
At this year’s conference, for the first time, we have a delegation of journalists from the Soviet Union and also from the People’s Republic of China. We are very pleased to welcome you. The communist world is rapidly changing. I encourage the new policies of “glasnost” and “perestroika” in the Soviet Union, and the reforms being enacted in China. The media of both countries is playing a leading role in these changes. The World Media Association, in its commitment to free and open discussion, is happy to serve as a forum for your participation.
The Search for Solutions
Both the democratic and communist worlds are searching for solutions to the problems of corruption, greed and exploitation. And both worlds are still far from achieving the ideal. As I see it, there are fundamental problems with both societies. They are both excluding God from their search for solutions. God has been forgotten.
The forsaking of God is the most serious problem of this century. When you forsake God, either in the name of totalitarianism or atheistic secularism, the result will be the same: self-destruction. Both East and West are struggling with this fundamental question.
As I said, I founded the World Media Association to promote free expression in the media wherever it is oppressed, and to encourage a responsible media wherever freedom of the press already exists. Furthermore, I founded this important organization to promote the spirit of truth so that all media professionals can become uncompromising champions of truth. We have held this conference almost annually and have organized numerous fact-finding tours with media professionals all over the world, including the Soviet Union, China, South Africa, Mozambique, Angola, Cambodia and Central America.
These tours are searches for truth, giving journalists an opportunity to experience the world firsthand. As a very good old saying goes, “seeing is believing.” Journalists must always have their hands on the pulse of the world in order to report accurately. The work which we will undertake in these next few days is important — an examination of the performance of free and moral media.
Finally, I am sure you have seen many stories about me on television and in your own newspapers. You might even agree that some of the more exciting stories about Reverend Moon have helped sell more newspapers or bring a bigger audience to your newscasts. So, since I have helped you all these years, I would now like to ask you for one favor: find out what I am teaching and what kind of life I am living. Conduct your own open-minded and thorough investigation, and draw your own conclusions. This conference is a good place to begin.
I hope you will enjoy your stay in Washington and will enjoy the conference. Thank you for coming and may God bless you.
Tenth World Media Conference
Journalists Examine Moral and Professional Challenges
Guest Delegations from USSR and PRC Greeted by Rev. and Mrs. Moon
The number ten means a return to God. On the foundation of 12 years expanding work, and nine previous assemblies, the Tenth World Media Conference in Washington DC, March 22-25, was a resounding victory. The event was attended by 400 media professionals and opinion leaders from nearly 20 nations. It was partially filmed and carried live across America by C-Span network. C-Span fully covered the Opening Session, Theme Session, and Session II; Father’s Opening Message was carried, in part, as a full page in The Washington Times and Washington Post on March 24.
As a result, the spiritual impact of the Media Conference reverberated throughout the United States, with inquiries coming from Oregon, Florida, Massachusetts and West Virginia.
The historic World Media gathering drew True Parents to America, since a 12-man delegation of Soviet journalists sponsored by Novosti press agency attended, and two groups from the People’s Republic of China also attended (one from the Xinhua news agency and one from the China Association for International Friendly Contacts). Father warmly welcomed them in his Founder’s Address, saying he encourages the new policies of “glasnost” and “perestroika” in the USSR and reforms in China. He called attention to the fact that “the media in both countries is playing a leading role in these changes.”
In the opening reception at the Omni-Shoreham Hotel in Washington, March 22, the final two groups to enter the Blue Room and pass the receiving line (of Larry Moffitt, Dr. Pak, Rev. and Mrs. Moon, Amb. Douglas MacArthur, II, Dr. and Mrs. Godwin) were, in order, the Soviet and Chinese delegations.
The 1989 WMA Ethics Award for Journalism honored the Atlanta Daily World, America’s first black-owned daily newspaper, which cost its founder W. A. Scott his life at 32. Since then, his brother, Cornelius Scott, has headed the publication and maintained an independent voice of integrity for the past 54 years. Also recognized for their “courage, sacrifice and devotion to public service and truth that are the special obligation of the communication media” were journalists who lost their lives covering the War in Afghanistan. Posthumously, the award went to Lee Shapiro and Jim Lindelof, as representatives of the estimated dozen correspondents and photojournalists who sacrificed their lives in Afghanistan to record the truth.
The keynote speaker for the Conference was William Rusher, former publisher of the National Review and author of The Coming Battle for the Media. He spoke of the opportunities the World Media Conferences offer journalists from all over the world to gather together and discover “the things that you believe and the principles you espouse and the things you are dedicated to are shared with many other journalists in many other countries.” He pointed out that the visitors from the Soviet Union and Mainland China might be surprised to learn of the “inveterate hostility” of the American media to the executive branch of our government. Rusher joked, “They don’t have that particular problem.” He went on to discuss the too powerful, too liberal, elite media that often controls “air superiority over the beachhead.”
“What can be done?,” he then asks. Mr. Rusher believes there is a case to be made for the Fairness Doctrine. Secondly, there is a place for something like the British Press Council, which could be a professional forum for correcting present imbalances in the media. Thirdly, young conservative journalists are emerging which will serve to redress the overwhelming political bias of current media professionals.
Finally, there is one thing “that can be done and has been done. And I am proud to pay my tribute to it. There is one man who has felt that even in Washington DC it was better to light one small candle than simply curse the darkness. Thanks to Reverend Moon, The Washington Times has stepped onto the stage of this great and vital city and has a place here now from which it will not be shaken. I am proud beyond words to be on his Editorial Advisory Board and immensely grateful that its here.”
Oliver North electrified the room, drew the national media, and testified to The Washington Times as he spoke after dinner on Thursday night with humor and honesty. He said that he had learned from the media what Oscar Wilde meant when he said that in the olden days we had the rack; now we have the press.” North believes that the major issues of the past nine years are the economic recovery of America, the policy of peace through strength and growing support for freedom fighters throughout the world. He called the “daily drama of freedom” the God-given birthright of everyone and the most newsworthy story of all.
North emphasized that the one quality we must never forsake is faithfulness to God, our families, community and fellow countrymen. Finally, he said, “journalism has to be an act not of discouragement and pessimism, but one of encouragement.”
An astute analysis of broadcast and print media limitations was drawn by Ambassador Alan Keyes, who presented a luncheon address on Friday. Keyes, who has a diplomatic background and ran for Senate in Maryland this past election, has identified several key contradictions with broadcast reportage and the commercial interests of networks and stations. He is concerned about the future of political life being so shaped by commercial media and encourages citizen education and participation.
Editor-in-Chief of The Washington Times, Arnaud de Borchgrave, gave an assessment of global developments and recognized significant developments in the Soviet Union. He called “perestroika” evidence of the “bankruptcy of a political, social and economic system” in urgent need of a total overhaul. On the concept of final assistance, de Borchgrave insisted we must extract quid pro quo in some “important geopolitical trade-offs.” “Liberal democracies,” he believes, “keep pushing for what is basically good and what is basically right.”
Other guest speakers included Ambassador Guido Fernandez, WMA Board Chairman and Minister of Information, Republic of Costa Rica, who spoke on the Arias Peace Plan, and Ding Yangyan, Director of the Foreign Affairs Department of Xinhua press agency, P. R. C., who outlined the democratic achievements and challenges facing China today.
“Media Standards and Journalistic Accountability” was the title of the Conference which presented five journalistic self-examination panels. The Theme Session, “Assessing the Media on Civil Rights,” was chaired by Rev. John Nettles, National Vice President of the SCLC and on the WMA Board of Chairmen. From a Black activist perspective the session explored coverage of both the original Civil Rights movement, and current civil rights and racial issues today. Several fresh new voices included: Rev. James Bevel (former strategist for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.), James Meredith (first Black to enroll in and graduate from ‘Ole Miss), Jim Martin (Founding member, SNCC, and board member of CORE) and Roy Innis (National Director, Congress for Racial Equality). The large national response to this C-Span telecast session has been enthusiastic and eager to know more about the work of the World Media Association.
On Friday, concurrent sessions met both morning and afternoon to take up the topics, “Journalist as Historian,” “The Role of Media in the U.S. Electoral Process,” and “Passage to a Human World.” The moods of the sessions were, in turn, reflective, heated and informative as each offered a distinguished panel of experts with a variety of perspectives, leading to lively exchanges.
Looking at the issue of “Journalist as Historian” were noted journalists/writers Georgie Ann Geyer and P. J. O’Rourke, and historians Robert Conquest (The Great Terror, Harvest of Sorrow, Scholar at Hoover Institution, Stanford University), Paul Johnson (Intellectuals, Modern Times), and Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. (The Imperial Presidency, American history professor, Harvard University).
In Session II, “The Role of Media in the U.S. Electoral Process” the battle of the 1988 presidential race was refought. Chairing the two sessions were Stanley Rothman, co-author of The Media Elite and Martin Nolan, Editorial Page Editor, The Boston Globe. The morning session brought together Susan Estrich (Campaign Manager, Michael Dukakis campaign); Reed Irvine (Chairman, Accuracy in Media); and Christopher Matthews (Washington Bureau Chief, San Francisco Examiner). Roger Ailes (Senior Media Advisor for the George Bush campaign); James Kilpatrick, (political columnist and TV panelist); and Paul Taylor (Washington Post reporter covering the political campaign) explored the topic in the afternoon.
Max Singer, President of The Potomac Organization, chaired the “Passage to a Human World: How Well Does the Media Understand the Path of Economic Development, World Population Growth, Resources and Environment?” session based on his recent book, Passage to a Human World. Morning speakers included Zeng Yi (Deputy Director, Institute of Population Research); Marion Clawson (Senior Fellow Emeritus, Resources for the Future); and Donnella Meadows, (Director, International Network of Resource Information Centers). Luncheon speakers were Michael Ledeen (Consultant to the Dept. of Defense on terrorism); Gloria Feliciano (President of the University of the Philippines Communication Research and Development Foundation); and Luther Carter (former writer for Science magazine and author of Nuclear Imperatives and Public Trust).
The Closing Plenary Session, “Communications and the Rise of International Democracy” was chaired by Larry Moffitt (Executive Director, World Media Association). The conferees heard from Abdullah Schleifer (Director, the Adham Center for Television Journalism, Cairo); Nayyar Zaidi (Washington Bureau Chief, Jang Newspaper Group, Pakistan); Vitaly Kobash, Political analyst, Izvestia (Moscow) and John Dunlop (Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University).
Vitaly Kobash, during the question and answer period, revealed that the Soviet Union of Journalists has established a special commission to investigate “deliberate disinformation.” Such disinformation may have led to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, which he described as “one of the greatest disasters.” He went on to explain that the investigation would also look into relationships between press correspondents and the Soviet government during the Stalin, Khrushchev and Brezhnev eras (1927-1982). Participant Arnold Beichman wrote the front-page “scoop” of this story from the World Media Conference offices for publication in The Washington Times on Monday, March 27.
Saturday afternoon, participants toured The Washington Times, Insight, and World and I offices.
The conference closed on Saturday night with a farewell banquet hosted by Father and Mother. The hall was packed with 400 guests who enjoyed the jokes, antics and skill of juggler/humorist Michael Davis. Shelia Vaughn and Jeff Benson sang four lovely and moving pieces as a prelude to Father’s Closing Remarks. Dr. Ron Godwin, Senior Vice President of The Washington Times Corporation, then introduced Rev. Moon by describing the figure he first met in Danbury Prison with an undeniable commitment to standing by The Washington Times and its mission.
Father, in the spirit of good humor, told the receptive audience that if they had any trouble with his Korean- accented English, he would simply ask them to “read my lips.” This opening, understandably, totally broke the ice.
He graciously thanked the participants and panelists for their work during the conference and commented on the spirit of cooperation which is emerging with the Soviets and Chinese as a result of their visit. He proclaimed that “I really have the spirit of a journalist in my blood. But I am not an ordinary journalist. I see evil and injustice in society, and I fight against it with all my heart and soul. In fact, I am a crusader by nature. If I were a reporter, I would be just as controversial a reporter as I am a religious leader. I always advocate being a good trouble-maker.”
The conference ended on a high note for everyone. Father testified to the conference victory before Washington DC members Easter Sunday at the Columbia Road Church.
Immediately following the conference, Larry Moffitt and John Robbins, WMA Special Projects Director, flew west to Montana and then on to Seattle accompanying the visiting Soviets on a “working” tour of America. The first journalistic exchange between the World Media Association and Novosti press agency culminated in a small farewell banquet in New York City on April 4, 1989.
Opening of the Segye Times
It has been several years since the inauguration of The Washington Times. I recall that the prognosis by those in places of political power at the time was something to the effect of, “Let’s see how many months Rev. Moon’s paper can last.” Recently, one former member of the early Reagan administration even admitted that a memo was circulated at the time of the paper’s kickoff reception at the Corcoran Gallery, stating that administration members shouldn’t attend. Then Reagan got hold of a copy of the newspaper — the rest is well-known history. The Washington Times has become one of the Western world’s most influential journalistic voices — and in just seven years!
I preface this piece about the inauguration of the Segye Times with the above because one can definitely sense history being replayed here in 1989, in the Korean Republic. Though it is another time, place, and set of circumstances, the inaugural of the Segye Times has been attended by the same penetrating sense of providential priority.
There isn’t any doubt that Korea is a nation of hungry newspaper readers, with a daily diet of 8 or 9 major dailies blanketing the country. But this upstart, the Segye Times, given approval to publish with the coming of Korean democratization, offers a more international menu. With journalists and stringers in over 120 nations, the Times’ vision is to deepen its readership’s awareness of the development, dynamics, and problems of the international community; and, importantly, Korea’s place and responsibilities in that community.
As a footnote, it isn’t hard to observe in everyday living here, the real need for an expanded, more articulated comprehension of the world outside of the national borders, and what makes it run. Historically much to blame is a general weakness on the part of the daily papers to address that need effectively. Most papers have an international page but it is usually just a jumble of streamlined wire-service pieces.
There was definitely some history in the air on February 1, as Father stepped up to the huge console of the Times’ bright blue Hamada main press and pushed a deceptively ordinary looking red button. As the press rolled over into life, a very large group of executives, writers, and engineers breathed a sigh of relief, probably feeling like the climber taking one step up Mt. Everest. Those first few days were like climbing mountains, with every day’s edition carefully monitored by the entire company staff from President Kwak on down. In fact, President Kwak spent much of the paper’s first month of life “camping out” in the office each night — making regular trips to the pressroom throughout the wee-small hours to make sure that all was well.
The public “birth celebration” of the Segye Times was held February 22 at Seoul’s Shilla Hotel. At this lavish reception, attended by more than 1500 of Korea’s leading citizens, one could feel the impact and significance of the Times. In attendance were the prime minister of the Republic, the speaker of the house for the national assembly, leaders of the governing l arty and the three major opposition parties, plus many government, business, and educational leaders.
Usually this kind of reception will drone noisily on as speakers try to make a dent in the attention of the participants; but on this occasion, people really took note, particularly of Father’s Founder’s Address. Former Nevada senator Paul Laxalt and The Washington Times editor Arnaud De Borchgrave also spoke to the assemblage.
At present, the Times has a 16-page format and prints 1,000,000 copies a day. Over 800 employees (55% of them non-Unificationists) work in the company complex in the Yongsan district of Seoul, not far from the Han River. An average printing day begins with the press run beginning at 4 p.m. in the afternoon, and ending at 4 a.m. From early morning, papers are delivered, both to Kimpo International Airport for flights to the southern tip of the peninsula, including Cheju Island, and by truck and train to the more immediate parts of the peninsula.
Currently, several thousand Korean and international members are working throughout the country delivering, during the first three months of publication, the Segye Times free to potential subscribers, and even lacing through pedestrian traffic at rush hour to see who’s reading the Times. This nationwide “the Segye Times Team” has become well- known, with its bright blue jackets with orange sleeves.
Certainly, every day presents its own problems to our Segye staff. But with each day, I can sense more substantially the awesome investment that Father is making in Korea, and the world, through this paper. We are the “new kid on the block” among the Korean dailies, but there is no doubt that we will be here with a powerful presence as Korea takes its critical steps in the coming months and years.
Particularly in the area of the Republic’s democratization process, and national re-unification, this nation is embroiled in countless arguments and issues too numerous to mention. One thing is clear though — the definite need for a unifying vision. There is no easy way to instill this kind of perspective; but the Segye Times represents a great hope for the nation, and for God’s work in the Fatherland.
The Media in God’s Service
Some of the letters and phone requests flowing into the World Media Association offices at the National Press Building, Washington DC include requests for tapes, the Divine Principle, and three inspiring personal letters to Rev. Moon. They are being reprinted here anonymously:
Dear Rev. Sun Myung Moon:
I heard your excellent talk on CSpan recently and also noted the summary page in my favorite newspaper, The Washington Times. We also subscribe to Insight and your newer publication, The World and I.
In our county, we have just one monopoly newspaper, the St. Petersburg Times… We very much need an alternative newspaper in St. Petersburg as many people dislike the newspaper, which gives almost no publicity to any conservative issues.
I am entertaining a small hope that your organization might be interested in establishing a newspaper here. It is much needed.
So many thanks go your way for your fine efforts in establishing a responsible media.
Dear Reverend Moon:
Having not had the pleasure of meeting you, I nevertheless take the liberty of writing you personally after reading your message in The Washington Times about the media and its power.
Although I cannot claim to be a journalist, I am a conscientious person well aware of the power of the media and the harm that distortion of the facts, as well as misinformation, can do and how it can manipulate the minds of people. What is even more harmful, the media can also induce politicians to make decisions or take steps which can jeopardize a country or create chaos. And that is what is happening to my country, Lebanon!
A few years ago, I read Arnaud de Borchgrave’s book, The Spike. For the first time a journalist of fame and high standards spoke openly a truth so well-hidden by the media. I do so wish the gentlemen of the press could be more impartial and report the facts as they really are, exposing both sides of the story and not what readers would like to hear just for the sake of selling their papers. Is it too much to ask nowadays?
Honorable Rev. Sun Myung Moon:
I am a Chinese visiting fellow at a well-known U.S. university. I was a journalist and worked in Beijing as a director of the National Press Club of the All-China Journalists’ Association.
I read the excerpt from your address at the 10th World Media Conference with great interest. Your speech struck me with its great power of truth. In all these years, I have been thinking and searching for the identity of the Chinese media, its current reform and its future. I’m fascinated at the tremendous work you have been doing in promoting the free press and exploring issues related to media ethics and responsibility. I appreciate very much the special remark you made on the changing world — “glasnost” in the Soviet Union and reform in China.
I, as one of China’s “Red Guard Generation,” have gone through much disillusionment and frustration. Our world outlook has been shaped by the great social changes that have been taking place in China in the last two decades. I believe in God. I am committed to the cause of building world peace based upon a system of true value. Your interest and devotion to build a moral media has given me great encouragement. I wish to work with you and join the World Media Association. In my capacity as a Chinese woman journalist I have participated in managing the media affairs at the national level in Beijing. With my knowledge of the Chinese language, understanding of Chinese society and social changes, I can make my contribution in promoting the spirit of truth in China. I have such strong feeling within myself that I want and I can do so many things in your association.
With my highest respect and admiration.