Barely News: North Korea’s ‘Criticism Sessions’

Wednesday's Example of Media Bias   —   Posted on January 18, 2012

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-Read the excerpt below from newsbusters.org posted by Tom Blumer on Jan. 15.
-Read "Types of Media Bias" in the right column. Then answer the questions.

from a report by Tom Blumer posted at newsbusters.org on Jan. 15:

…Another [news item] from the totalitarian nation of North Korea that is getting under reported in most of the world’s press, is its “criticism sessions” (i.e., rat out your neighbor, coworker, etc.) identifying North Koreans who allegedly weren’t sufficiently grief-stricken over the December death of Kim Jong Il, weren’t sufficiently demonstrative about it, or didn’t attend enough mourning events, as well as the punishments for such transgressions which have reportedly followed.

The source of this news story is the Daily NK, a South Korea-based web site described by AFP (Agence France-Presse) as “an Internet website run by opponents of North Korea.” The opening paragraphs from Wednesday’s Daily NK report read as follows:

Harsh Punishments for Poor Mourning

The North Korean authorities have completed the criticism sessions which began after the mourning period for Kim Jong Il and begun to punish those who transgressed during the highly orchestrated mourning events.

Daily NK learned from a source from North Hamkyung Province on January 10th, “The authorities are handing down at least six months in a labor-training camp to anybody who didn’t participate in the organized gatherings during the mourning period [for dictator Kim Jong-il], or who did participate but didn’t cry and didn’t seem genuine.”

Furthermore, the source added that people who are accused of circulating rumors criticizing the country’s 3rd generation [rule of the country] are also being sent to re-education camps or being banished with their families to remote rural areas.

Daily NK earlier reported news that criticism sessions were being held at all levels of industry, in enterprises and by local people’s units starting on December 29th, the last day of the mourning period. A source said at the time that the central authorities had ordered the sessions to be completed by January 8th.

The North Hamkyung source commented of the sessions that they “created a vicious atmosphere of fear, causing people to accuse (Kim Jong Un, the son of Kim Jong Il) of preying on the people now that he has taken power.”

The AFP report on North Korea’s…denial fails to mention the “criticism sessions” which give the Daily NK story’s credibility, especially since the Daily NK reported the existence of those sessions nine days earlier, before it knew the specifics of what might result from them….

Internet searches for news stories about the “criticism sessions” and punishments indicate that there hasn’t been anything about either in stories about “North Korea” at the Associated Press or the New York Times. …

(Adapted and excerpted from: newsbusters.org.)

Questions

1.  What type of bias is the excerpt below an example of?

2.  Read the following information on the Associated Press (AP).  What do you think of the AP’s assurance that they “do not submit to censorship” in light of the fact the bureau chose not to report that the North Korean authorities spent over a week identifying North Koreans who they felt were not adequately grieving the death of their leader Kim Jong-il, and sentencing those people to 6 months in labor camps?

The Associated Press (AP) opened a news bureau in Pyongyang, North Korea this week, becoming the first international news organization with a full-time presence to cover news from North Korea in words, pictures and video.  North Korea has no free press; only state run news.  AP Executive editor Kathleen Carroll said the AP “does not submit to censorship” anywhere in the world, including North Korea. “We wouldn’t have set up a bureau if we hadn’t been able to operate the way we’d like to operate,” Carroll said. She noted that “every country has its own challenges” and AP journalists don’t wander freely in North Korea just as they couldn’t wander freely while reporting on a military base in various countries. But “when we have asked permission to go places,” she said, “we’ve been able to go.” AP President and CEO Tom Curley said the Pyongyang bureau will operate under the same standards and practices as AP bureaus worldwide.”Everyone at The Associated Press takes his or her responsibilities of a free and fair press with utmost seriousness,” he said.

 


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Answer(s)

1.  The excerpt is an example of bias by omission.

2.  Opinion question. Answers vary.