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Congratulatory Message by H.E. Michael Reiterer, Ambassador of the European Union to the Republic of Korea
Internet Newspaper Day Ceremony
Tuesday, July 23, 2019, 2 pm
• Dear Minister for Culture and Sports, ParkYang-woo, Mr President Lee Geun-youngof the Korea Internet Newspaper Association, distinguished guests, good afternoon.
• On behalf of the European Union, let mefirst express sincere congratulations on this Ceremony to mark the Internet Newspaper Day.
• The internet has revolutionised news services, it has made information more accessible without time lag in real time. It empowers well-informed citizens to participate actively in political life. In turn, the internet allows citizens to become news creators themselves.
• In the past, news was not affordable to many. It still is in some countries, where people have to read it from dashboards on the streets.
• Koreans have long had wide access to newspapers. The development of online newspapers has broadened possibilities to participate in politics. Internet newspapers have made it easier for individuals to exercise freedom of expression. They can voice their opinions even when critical of the government. Indeed, providing outlets to express diverse forms of opinion is the essence of a strong democracy. I witnessed this myself during the Candlelight Revolution in Korea, back in 2017.
• On the other hand, online news outlets shoulder heavy responsibility, as more people rely on online information. Fast-evolving digital technology is mergingwith journalism in the era of the 4thIndustrial Revolution. Floods of information are competing against each other in real-time on the Internet.
• Internet journalism has to live up to the same standards as traditional journalism – investigate, check, double check before publishing.
• Consumers also need education: In the course of dissemination, messages and facts can be distorted if passed around without thorough fact-checking, just as in the children's "Chinese Whispers" game. And that is why your role as the main source of information is very important – consumers should go to the source of information and not only follow "likes".
• In the European Union we are making an all-out-effort in tackling fake news and disinformation at online platforms through the self-regulatory "Code of Practice," which was agreed with the platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google in September 2018. We evaluate actions by the big online platforms once they submit their monthly progress reports to us to fight disinformation.
• This shows how important the role of the Internet Newspapers is becoming and the unprecedented challenges and responsibilities they face. Therefore, I urge you to continue your positive contribution to national and social development by providing invaluable and creative knowledge that will lead togrowth, resolution and prosperity, not conflicts and deception or hate speech.
• Once again, congratulations to all of you, who are a pillar of democracy and the window to the world of public opinion. Thank you.