Press release

PUBLISH takes part in launching S. Korea’s Internet Newspaper Disclosure Organization as founding member

18 March 2021

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On Monday, a general meeting was held at the Press Center in Jung-gu, Seoul to mark the official launch of the IDI (Institute for Voluntary Data Disclosure by Internet Newspapers).

The IDI was established as a non-profit organization to bring more transparency and accountability to the digital news industry.

At the inaugural general meeting, founding members of the organization, including our very own Sonny Kwon, sat down to discuss the organization’s purpose and goals.

IDI will be made up of a number of divisions working in concert to bring more transparency and accountability to the digital news industry. These include a media division, an advertising division, a civil society division, and a research division. Members will include academics, advertisers, agencies, and media owners, among other media stakeholders.

In the first half of 2021, the IDI’s verification committee plans to review current news verification standards and propose a self-disclosure pilot project.

Lee Geun-young, the chairman of the IDI, said that the organization intends to bring some much needed transparency to the digital news industry, helping to restore confidence in the media as a medium for advertisers and agencies.

The IDI came about as a response to growing calls for transparency and accountability in the media industry following the results of a recent audit by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST), which revealed that reported paid newspaper circulation figures (calculated as the percentage of newspaper copies distributed to newspaper branch offices) and actual paid newspaper circulation figures (calculated as the percentage of newspaper copies sold by newspaper branch offices) released by the Korea Audit Bureau of Certification (Korea ABC) were far too generous.

For example, in the case of one newspaper office interviewed by the MCST, the Korea ABC reported a paid newspaper circulation rate of 95.94% in 2019, while the MCST found it to be just 67.24%. For the same newspaper, the Korea ABC reported an actual paid newspaper circulation of 98.09%, while the MCST found it to be considerably lower at 55.36%.

The MCST suggested that media companies might be intentionally inflating paid circulation figures so as to be considered more favorably by advertisers and government agencies when applying for government subsidies.

As the importance of digital media content and advertising grows, so too has the need for a third-party disclosure mechanism for the digital news industry, especially in light of this recent Korea ABC scandal and ongoing challenges presented by the proliferation of misinformation and disinformation.

Distributed ledger technology, which exists on the premise of building trust in data without the need for intermediaries, has been touted as one such mechanism.

At PUBLISH, we have already built a tool enabling digital media companies to index news content on the blockchain in the interest of proving the origin of news content and allowing readers to trace any changes to news content.

Sonny Kwon, the CEO of PUBLISH and a member of the IDI’s Media Division, said, “Our values at PUBLISH are very much aligned with those of the IDI, and I look forward to leveraging our technology and know-how in realizing our shared vision of a healthy media ecosystem.”

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