Sun, May 06, 2018 - Page 6 News List


Press needs some prodding

Thomas Jefferson is quoted as having said: “An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.”

A free press is often considered an important source of an educated citizenship, which is why many governments consider a free press to be one of the main bulwarks of democracy.

However, that requires an educated press.

There are times when I wonder what we need to have an educated press. A case in point is the article by the Agence France-Presse published in the Taipei Times on Monday, discussing the meeting of the leaders of South and North Korea, which bubbles with excitement about the North’s offer to close its nuclear test site (“Kim offers to close nuclear test site,” April 30, page 1).

I do not consider myself particularly well-informed or up-to-date on international politics, but even my fading memory gave me a kick in the pants. Were there not opinions recently expressed about the perilous condition of that test site?

If indeed the test site was an imminent danger, would it be surprising that a politician would not grab the chance to take on lamb’s clothing by volunteering to stop testing and promising that the site would be closed and dismantled? That would, at best, be a case of a wolf donning lamb’s clothing.

So I went to the Internet to see if my fading memory was at fault. Yes and no.

I found that on Oct. 13 last year, Time magazine published an article under the byline of Christine Kim at Reuters, with the headline “North Korea May Have Damaged Its Nuclear Testing Site, Experts Say.”

That was earlier than my recollection about recent noises, so my memory had tricked me. I thought it was just a month or two ago that I had seen that.

However, the Internet also provided me with much more recent articles than I had thought, which I had not seen. Here are some examples:

To put them in some perspective, an article (by Christine Kim/Reuters from Seoul) on April 26 stated that the meeting between the two leaders was to take place “next Friday,” which would have been April 27, about six months after the article in Time.

The Guardian on April 26 had the headline “North Korea nuclear test site has collapsed and may be out of action — China study.”

Several articles were published around the world on the subject of a collapse or partial collapse having occurred; I did not go into them in detail, because the Google site I used on Monday lists them as four or five days old, but the dates on the Web images are between the April 27 and Monday, which creates a problem.

So what we are looking at is probably a political charade that North Korea — and perhaps others, including the US — are using to posture themselves and which they had a period of about six months to put together to gain or save face.

It is regrettable that articles about the bilateral meeting are disregarding almost completely the context in which this probable charade is taking place.

The press appears to need some prodding, although I must admit that many of the articles that focus on the partial or total collapse of the site do allude to, or mention explicitly, the questionable value of the about-face by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Emilio Venezian

New Taipei City

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