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UPF Media Association Launched at World Summit 2020

Korea-2020-02-05-Media Association Launched at World Summit 2020

Seoul, Korea—Concerned about the erosion of ethics and accuracy in journalism around the world, hundreds of media professionals and high-ranking government and business officials from 72 nations gathered for the inauguration of UPF's International Media Association for Peace (IMAP).

The new media project will work with other global nonprofits to encourage the world’s press corps to guard against totalitarianism while uplifting God-given freedoms, rights and dignity.

To promote the highest standards and practices in reporting and editing, especially in a digital world, IMAP in 2020 will create a global network for media practitioners, update ethical and professional guidelines, and establish awards to honor exemplary media achievements that benefit humanity.

“We believe that when media properly exercise their great power and influence, they can help secure freedom and peace for all humankind,” said the IMAP Inaugural Resolution signed by more than 500 participants at the one-day IMAP Conference, held Sunday, February 2, 2020, at the Lotte Hotel Seoul.

Welcoming remarks to IMAP conferees

The IMAP Conference was the first official event of the extraordinary World Summit 2020, which was held February 3 to 8 by the Universal Peace Federation (UPF). The summit gathered more than 6,000 international leaders from the spheres of government, religion, business, media, academy, culture, women and youth. The summit, led by Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, coincided with the centenary commemoration of her late husband and UPF co-founder, Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon, who was born in 1920. Many of the weeklong summit’s events were designed to illuminate aspects of Reverend Moon’s life’s accomplishments, vision and goals for a God-loving, peaceful world—many of which are now expanding under Mrs. Moon’s leadership.

The IMAP Conference, which was sponsored by UPF in partnership with media companies Segye Times in Seoul, Sekai Nippo in Tokyo and The Washington Times in Washington, D.C., drew approximately 520 participants, representing Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, North America, Japan and Korea. More than 403 attendees were practicing journalists, editors, publishers and social media influencers.

“We look forward to collaborating together and truly applying our experience, our wisdom, our skill, particularly in the sphere of the media,” UPF International Chair Dr. Thomas G. Walsh said in his welcoming remarks.

Referring to the emerging coronavirus pandemic, Masahiro Kuroki, president and CEO of Sekai Nippo, saluted the audience’s “courageous spirit of journalism, as all of you have come to this gathering in spite of many obstacles in order to tackle an important agenda on this day.”

“As a fellow journalist, I am astounded by the speed at which the media environment is changing,” said Segye Ilbo President and CEO Hee-taeg Jung. “An abundance of information is spreading at the speed of light through the Internet and mobile. How wonderful it would be if this body of information brings peace and reconciliation for humanity,” he said.

Washington Times Chair Thomas P. McDevitt observed that another UPF project, the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace (IAPP)—launched only four years ago—now has more than 5,000 incumbent members of parliament from about 160 countries who work together to solve problems.

“Imagine, one year from now, if we had 10 times the number of journalists here today—or three years from now, if there were 15,000 or 20,000 journalists from all ages and all countries of the world who cared about making a difference and applied excellence in their craft to journalism,” said Mr. McDevitt. “We can truly make a difference.”

Hon. Won-soon Park, mayor of Seoul, praised the IMAP event as “an opportunity to realign ourselves with our responsibility and mission as journalists,” while Byung-kyu Lee, chair of the Korea Association of Newspapers, said, “If we present a new vision and solution based on interdependence, mutual prosperity and universal values, crisis will give way to opportunity and the global village will become a better place to live in.”

Others who welcomed the conference attendees were Hyun-wook Kim, a former news anchor at KBS, and Hon. Yang-woo Park, South Korea’s minister of culture and sports.

IMAP Conference theme

The IMAP Conference theme was “Establishing a Global Environment of Interdependence, Mutual Prosperity and Universal Values — the Role of the Media.”

Media professionals addressed industry issues, including the current state of the media, the impact of disruptive innovation, how to reclaim and upgrade the mission of journalism, freedom and responsibility of the press, the role of media in solving critical social and geopolitical challenges, and the case for a new global association.

The essential question for the gathering was the role of the media in building a world of lasting peace. Following the IMAP Conference, all practicing journalists in attendance had access to all aspects of World Summit 2020 to optimize news and opinion coverage of the events, including the opportunity to interview top speakers and organizers. Some 1,000 news articles, videos and other media products were filed by participants during the summit.

Based on a series of four expert panels and working sessions, the IMAP Conference concluded with the signing of its Inaugural Resolution.

Unstoppable technological changes

In the first session, moderated by Hyun-wook Kim, keynote speeches were presented by Hon. Cliff Stearns, member of U.S. Congress (1989-2013), the executive director of APCO Worldwide, and past president of the Association of Former Members of U.S. Congress; and Dr. Jai-won Shin, vice president, Hyundai Motors, and the head of Hyundai’s newly established Urban Air Mobility Division.

Mr. Stearns, a Republican who represented Florida’s 6th Congressional District for more than two decades, said that new technology—such as artificial intelligence and virtual and augmented reality—will continue to disrupt journalism and media platforms.

New types of vision wear or earpieces will “merge your physical world with your digital life,” he said. “Augmented reality phones with artificial intelligence devices may surpass smartphones in the near future. … Holograms on this device with 5G speeds will allow you to, as they say in Star Trek, boldly go where no one has gone before.”

In light of these now-opening frontiers in media, Mr. Stearns concluded, “IMAP can do no better service to humanity than publishing ethical standards, bringing to bear the need for accurate and responsible journalism and building regional associations of nations for peace, security and human development.”

Dr. Shin underscored the power of the digital revolution in not just the media world but in “every single industrial sector in society.” It already has effectively bankrupted popular retailers like Sears and Blockbuster while exploding growth in new kinds of companies like Amazon and Netflix.

In aviation, he added, innovations like electrification, automation, miniaturization and the growing use of many millions of drones are all on track to revolutionize that industry and even create a new air-transportation system that will “open up the sky” and alleviate ground traffic congestion in cities.

Media and ‘disruptive’ innovation

In Session II, whose theme was “State of the Media Industry and Impact of Disruptive Innovation,” experts from Europe, Asia and Latin America provided an overview of the state of the media industry and the impact of disruptive innovation on the quality of journalism and the challenges to economic sustainability for news organizations.

This session was moderated by Jung-mi Hwang, vice president and executive editor of Segye Ilbo. The panelists were Juan Senor, president of Innovation Media Consulting in the United Kingdom; Yuya Watase, chair of the Pacific Alliance Institute and executive director of The Washington Times, Japan; Professor Predrag Vujović, founder and president of the Public Relations Business School in Serbia; and Vera Lucia Tabach, president of the Brazilian Association of Press and Electronic Media.

“We try to disrupt disruptions,” said Mr. Senor, whose company tracks and publishes annual books on the most successful innovations in news media and magazines.

Many media companies are floundering, he said, but they can be relaunched and become profitable. Making money is essential in a credible, independent press, he said, because if that press does not make money, the “virtuous circle of publishing” without fear or favor “is broken.”

Successful innovations revolve around “reach, relevance and revenue,” Mr. Senor said, as he quickly reviewed 14 important business models for modern media companies.

In his remarks, Professor Vujović recalled the vast changes in the media in the 42 years since the first World Media Association conference—the forerunner to IMAP—was held.

Most importantly, he said, younger media consumers “are not using mass media now at all … they are using just online media.”

But in addition to finding ways to connect with online readers and viewers, there are problems with media ethics, “hate” speech, and excessive political influence, he said.

“Dialogue, appreciation of others, living for the sake of others should become the model of efficient communication,” Professor Vujović said. As such, he concluded, IMAP and its many like-minded allies in the world could enter a new phase for communications and proactively assist with problem-solving around the world.

Tackling corruption, inside and out

In Session III, whose theme was “Addressing Critical Challenges of the Media and Restoring the Mission of Journalism,” speakers explored freedom of the press, “fake” news, bias, polarization, and the relationship between human rights and freedom of the press. Speakers then focused on rediscovering the mission of journalism in today’s global environment.

Moderator Peter Zoehrer, executive director of FOREF-Europe, facilitated remarks from panelists Professor Kyu-sup Han of Seoul National University; Christopher Dolan, president and executive editor of The Washington Times; Dr. Aaron Anthony Rhodes, human rights editor of Dissident Magazine, a project of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation in Germany; Lutfi Dervishi, host of the political talk show Perballe on public television in Albania; Salvador Alejandro Nasralla Salum, TV broadcaster, founder and president, Anti-Corruption Party of the Republic of Honduras; and Professor Kriengsak Chareonwongsak, Ph.D., senior fellow at Harvard University and chair of the Nation-Building Institute in Thailand.

“In 2020, the media are facing a grave crisis,” said Professor Han. “Readers do not trust the media,” he said, citing data showing that only 27 percent of Korean voters had a positive view about the media. Media habits of intentionally writing provocative content, feeding political polarizations and relying on “average clicks and expression of emotions” to steer news content are just some of the many issues news companies are wrestling with, he said.

“To me, the mission of journalism is simple, but the job is very difficult,” said Mr. Dolan. This is, in part, because information is now so easily altered and distorted—and harder to vet—as it passes through messengers, he said.

Also, journalists’ own personal biases have become an issue, he added. “A lot of people who are becoming reporters are doing so because they want to advocate for something, their point of view” and not present information from opposing sides, Mr. Dolan said.

This “scares me,” he said, “because propaganda is the omission of facts. If you omit facts, you are able to dehumanize other people, which leads to atrocities. … If people are given false information, they can’t make proper decisions.”

The human right of having fundamental freedom of speech is another area of conflict for both the public and the media, said Dr. Rhodes.

“In human rights, it’s about protecting our freedom as citizens, as members of civil society, to pursue the goals that we want, and not about telling us what those goals should be,” he said. Both human rights activists and journalists “have often failed to adhere to an ethos of political objectivity. ... This means they will not investigate their political friends, and they put a disproportionate amount of energy into investigating their enemies.”

Such bias in human rights activism and journalism reduces the credibility and value of independent civil society and fosters corruption, he said.

Yes, said Mr. Dervishi, a longtime investigative journalist specializing in corruption, “in the Balkans, we know that the dog never barks at [the person] whom it knows and who feeds it.”

Despite the many problems in journalism, he said, “The answer is back to the basics.” People need real news, and with the serious issues the world is facing—including the coronavirus outbreak— “more than ever, the public will need professional journalists,” he said.

In his remarks, Mr. Nasralla urged journalists to maintain integrity and ethics, even when dealing with crooked governments and a culture of bribery.

Reviving a free, responsible press in this world will be no small task, said Dr. Chareonwongsak, who listed five crises and raised 15 questions journalists must tackle to restore the mission of journalism.

“We can maintain our independence… [while] advocating true freedom of the press, but it has to be responsible freedom, as well,” he said.

IMAP mission includes press freedom, more diversity, editors and young people

In Session IV, whose theme was “Regional Issues and the Case for a New Global Association of Journalists and Communications Professionals,” the role of the media in regional areas of focus, including Africa, the Middle East, and the Asia Pacific region, was explored. Also, setting the stage for the launching of IMAP, panelists addressed such questions as What would a new association stand for?, What would it do?, and How can IMAP benefit journalists, publishers, readers, etc.? Finally: What kind of partnerships would be helpful between IMAP and related UPF programs? The session concluded with a Signing Ceremony for the IMAP Resolution.

Thomas P. McDevitt, chair of The Washington Times, served as moderator. The panelists were Michael Breen, CEO of Insight Communications Consultants in Korea; Bill Gertz, national security correspondent, The Washington Times; Hon. Jean Victor Nkolo, UN General Assembly spokesperson; David Morgan, managing partner at D. Morgan & Partners and co-founder of the Multicultural Media Correspondents Association; Thomas Schellen, editor-at-large for Executive Magazine; and A. Curtis Farrow, president of Irving Street Reps, United States.

Among the many recommendations were to increase racial, ethnic and gender diversity in the ranks of media and find ways to keep local media outlets alive.

Mr. Gertz said the world is in an “information war” with closed societies like China, which makes the need for IMAP even greater. The World Media Association, during its early years, brought many journalists on fact-finding tours in restricted areas, and this sometimes led to positive, press-freedom changes in those countries. Even today, Mr. Gertz added, “If there had been a free press in China, this epidemic, this health crisis which is unfolding before our eyes, may not have been as bad as it seems to be.”

IMAP should pursue editors since they shape news stories and commission opinions, said Mr. Breen. Editors “are the masters of the universe when it comes to media. They can change the world. And whether they admit it or not, they are driven by underlying values, a view of what their readers' mission is, and so on.”

The diversity in the media, or lack thereof, is also an essential area to address, said Mr. Morgan. “Despite the challenges, we can all say the media are still very powerful,” he said. “And more importantly, who controls the story, controls who wins and who loses and determines the future. As such, my organization, we see a media diversity crisis with serious economic, social and political implications.”

Don’t forget the young people all over the world, said Mr. Farrow, a Baptist minister of music known for producing McDonald’s Gospelfest and more recently, the “Peace Starts with Me” events with Mrs. Moon.

“We have to acknowledge that young people are starting to lead us, and if we don’t include them, we are going to be left behind,” he said. “Everything local is global … [and] everything global is local.”

IMAP launch—and next steps forward

During the Cold War, Rev. and Mrs. Moon co-founded the World Media Association, which convened dozens of global conferences and fact-finding trips addressing issues like freedom and responsibility of the media. Following Rev. Moon’s passing in 2012, Mrs. Moon, in partnership with hundreds of global leaders, has implemented an enlightened grand strategy for peace, creating a global culture as “one family under God.” It was her vision to re-engage media professionals through the newly launched IMAP project, which will work in tandem with several similar UPF programs that have generated global and national networks of current and former heads of state (International Summit Council for Peace), incumbent members of Parliament (International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace), interfaith religious leaders (Interreligious Association for Peace and Development), business and economic leaders (International Association for Peace and Economic Development), and scholars from the academic field (International Association for Academicians for Peace).

During the final plenary session, the assembly of journalists reviewed and adopted the founding IMAP Resolution, which called for a renewal of the mission, quality and craft of journalism in an era of heightened global tensions, economic uncertainty and significant disruptive innovation within the communications industry. As a project of UPF, IMAP aims to attract and serve media professionals who seek to enhance their journalism and leverage the influence of the media profession in the pursuit of peace, common prosperity and universal values.

As described in the IMAP Resolution, “IMAP recognizes the vital role that journalists play in guarding against totalitarianism and supporting the expansion of freedom. IMAP represents a worldwide professional network of journalists who support a socially responsible and moral media to convey accurate content, address the challenges of our time based on the highest principles of ethical journalism, and understanding that universal values are key elements of a world of peace.”

IMAP participants also attended a half-day event on February 3 to celebrate Segye Ilbo’s 31st anniversary, which was attended by numerous national political leaders and the heads of the major and secondary political parties in the Republic of Korea.

The IMAP project will develop based on the vision laid out in the IMAP Resolution through global, regional, national and local follow-up planning sessions.

Among IMAP’s next action steps, as outlined in the Inaugural Resolution:

  • Developing guidelines for media that promote the highest standards of reporting and editing.
  • Finding ways to combat the erosion of personal privacy on digital platforms.
  • Establishing professional development programs for journalists, including programs that focus on media ethics.
  • Creating recognition programs for excellence in journalism.
  • Building professional networks for journalists to foster a world of peace, cooperation, shared universal values, interdependence and mutual prosperity.

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To go to the IMAP Schedule page, click here.

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