Globalization and the Media: Looking to the Twenty-first Century
by Reverend Sun Myung Moon
This is the Founder’s Address given at the XIV World Media Conference, Washington, DC. November 26, 1997.
I would like to express my deep gratitude to you for your participation in the Fourteenth World Media Conference. I find it particularly meaningful that you will be discussing various issues faced by the media as it seeks to respond to the age of globalization in the 21st Century, which will arrive in just a few years.
We live in an age when the global environment is undergoing exceptionally rapid change. It is incumbent upon the media to respond to these changes more quickly and more correctly than other sectors of society. Otherwise, humanity faces a future of even greater confusion and instability.
Right now, the most important factor bringing about change in the world is that increasingly, our means of communications function at the speed of light. Every day, new technologies are developed which seem to transcend time and space and connect even the farthest corners of the Earth in a matter of seconds.
In the past, newspaper editors would demand that reporters gather local news and publish it more quickly than anyone else. But what is the situation in 1997, just three years prior to the beginning of the 21st Century?
Today when reporters consider their local community, they think not only about the physical and geographical region in which they live. They also think about their associates and neighbors around the world with whom they are connected through e-mail.
When a reporter gathers information concerning this or that issue, he or she uses the Internet to find relevant material from around the world. For those who gather information, “local community” no longer refers just to the region in which they live but to the whole world.
As recently as a hundred years ago, at the start of the 20th Century, news often traveled by train, ship or even at times by carrier pigeon. People had to wait days or weeks even for such important news as the battlefield situation in the First World War.
In the latter half of the 1990s, however, the Internet and telecommunications have made it possible to transmit news in a matter of seconds. The entire world can receive information about major news events almost simultaneously. It can be said today that the entire world is our local community and that local news has come to mean news about the whole world.
Because electronic communications technology is bringing the world together in this way, economic and cultural exchanges have already entered a borderless age.
The age has come when all the Earth’s citizens influence each other’s lives. The economy of any particular country or region cannot but be influenced by the world economic situation.
For these reasons, we must think of the world as constituting a single community. And we must pose the question: “What should be the form and content of the media in a global age?”
I hope that in the course of this conference you will have a great deal of discussion on a variety of topics related to this question, and that you will be able to obtain useful results.
I also would like to take this opportunity to present some of my views on globalization and the media in the 21st Century.
First, I think the media in a global age should move beyond “functional journalism” toward “value journalism.” The news media do not completely fulfill their mission simply by giving their audiences a factual account of the news. Rather, through commentary and criticism, the media must awaken their readers and viewers to an awareness of truth and lead the way in elevating society’s spiritual and moral values.
In the global information age of the 21st Century, the peoples of different nations will exercise tremendous influence on each other across international boundaries. Thus, the immoral aspects of any one major country’s culture can easily have a negative influence on other countries. The coming of the information age, which itself is a result of advances in industries that apply communication and information technologies, is the fundamental factor hastening us into a world in which information is shared by all humankind. In such a world, merely reporting the facts of the news will be much too elementary. It will be an important role of the media to determine how to interpret and evaluate the facts, and thus provide the direction in which the audience is guided.
Here it is important to examine the worldview, philosophy and historical outlook held by media organizations and journalists themselves. In other words, it will be necessary for journalists to share positive and idealistic values regarding humanity and world peace and prosperity.
Thus we should have a global perspective.
If the kind of media that satisfies people’s base desires and interests from purely commercial motives sets the trend, then the world will become an even more gloomy and unhappy place in the 21st Century.
We have been through the most difficult ideological war during the 20th Century. Isn’t it true that during the ideological struggle of the Cold War, Communism’s dialectical materialism was on the ascendant in many parts of society?
It was only a few years ago that even many intellectuals and journalists in the Free World were under its influence and confused.
I met the challenges of that age with the greatest seriousness. As a result I was subjected to much misunderstanding and criticism. On the one hand, I led the Unification Thought Movement and the campaign to realize ideal families. On the other hand, I worked to liberate the Communist bloc and to teach students and intellectuals in those countries a system of values to prepare them for the world after Communism.
In 1982, at a time when the Free World was confronting its greatest challenge of the Cold War, I founded The Washington Times. It was a time when Washington, D.C., which in many ways is the capital of the world, had only one newspaper, the Washington Post.
At the time, I observed the world not merely from the standpoint of the international power relations of the Cold War but from the standpoint of the history of God’s providence of salvation. I had already warned that the Soviet Communist empire would soon come to an end. During preparations to hold the Second International Conference of the Professors World Peace Academy in Geneva in 1985, I told scholars from around the world that the theme of that conference should be “The Collapse of Soviet Communism.”
The scholars, who viewed the situation from the perspective of U.S.-Soviet relations of the time, were stunned to hear this, and were at a loss. In the end they were persuaded, and the conference was held under the theme that I had suggested.
When the Eleventh World Media Conference was held in Moscow in April 1990, I met then-Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, accompanied by a group of Free World journalists whom we had come to know primarily through The Washington Times.
In my meeting with President Gorbachev, I told him that the future of atheistic materialism could be nothing other than self-destruction and that he should repudiate materialism and attempt a revival of spiritual values centering on religion.
Within two years of that meeting, the Communist Soviet empire collapsed. My prediction in 1985 concerning the end of the Soviet empire came true, and many scholars who knew about this were again amazed.
Where do you think Rev. Moon gets this ability to predict historic changes in the world situation? I would like to tell you quite honestly the reason. Without any doubt it is that, as a religious leader, I stand in close communion with God. I have an absolute commitment to bring about God’s plan and God’s will for the future of humankind.
I have consistently appealed to leaders in all fields of life – who have been entrusted by God to prepare for the building of the future world – so that they may fulfill their responsibilities.
The age of the Cold War is coming to a close. Humankind is at a critical point. We must prepare for a new millennium in which we can all live on the Earth as brothers and sisters under one God, based on the principles of interdependence, mutual prosperity and universally shared values.
We need to ensure that the world of the 21st Century and beyond will be a world of peace in which all humankind will be able to live in freedom and prosperity, sharing in love and happiness.
The issue of ideological confrontation between East and West has concluded and now we must resolve the issue of the difference in economic standards between North and South. I have previously advocated the sharing of scientific technology and the construction of the International Peace Highway. This arises from my insight that humanity must be united as one family and live in a state of interdependence.
Now that the East-West Cold War has ended and scientific technology is advancing day by day so that the world can grow into a single community, do you think that humankind will automatically live in peace and happiness? Absolutely not. During the 21st Century, human society will face issues even more fundamental and even more dangerous than those of the Cold War.
According to what I have perceived, the most serious problem to beset humankind in the future world will be the issue of immorality and moral decadence destroying family values. Moral decadence is truly the original sin that pushes humanity into the abyss of suffering and despair.
Whether the world of the future will resemble heaven or hell will be determined by whether we can establish a moral code that sustains the purity of the family and protects family values.
Is it possible that issues faced in common by many countries throughout the world, such as the moral decline of young people, endless drug-related crime, increases in divorce, family breakdown, AIDS, and sexual crimes can be resolved by means of political power? Until now, we have been unable to resolve these problems even through education in school or religious instruction.
What good will it do a society to be economically prosperous and politically free if it is unable to solve the issues that cause all its families to exist in agony? Humankind has come to a point when it must find a teaching that protects and uplifts family values, and a method for putting such teaching into practice.
In the post-Cold War age, we must protect and uplift family values.
This is the most important message that Rev. Moon would like to give to you journalists who are participating today, representing all journalists around the world.
Currently the World Culture and Sports Festival III is being held in Washington, D.C., and the International Blessing Ceremony will be on November 29th at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium and all around the world. Initially, it was planned that 3.6 million couples would participate in the events. Surprisingly, though, the number of participants will now exceed 36 million, or ten times the original goal, by a few million couples. This celebration encompassing all humankind will surely be the foundation for a majestic beginning, encouraging all the people of the world to determine to protect and uplift family values.
I ask you journalists assembled here, as well as the leaders who have participated in this festival, to give us your enthusiastic cooperation at the national level so that this event can be developed into a global festival involving 360 million couples.
Expanding and solidifying this movement for true families so that it becomes a worldwide phenomenon is surely the most important spiritual and cultural revolution for humankind in the 21st Century.
Last June, in remarks commemorating the fifteenth anniversary of the founding of The Washington Times, I announced my intention to establish newspapers in 185 countries and to start a news service to link the entire world as a local community.
This enormous project is founded on my conviction about the future that I described above. Springing from my dedication, it is a gift to the people who will live in that future world. I would like to request the participation and cooperation in this project of the many distinguished journalists gathered today from around the world.