Celebrating an extraordinary dedication to high journalism standards

News under magnifying glass

There are events in the professional life of a journalist when there is no room for neutrality and no place for silence because it will then be the choice of those who have absolutely no choice. Only those who are physically, mentally or emotionally dead have no opinion, no voice, and no choice. No self-respecting journalist would accept to shut his eyes when he needs to keep them wide open or to ignore developments when readers, audiences, and viewers are expecting him to help them understand what is happening and what could happen. No journalist is ever too small to make a difference.

When I first met Sang-ki Lee, the founder and first president of Asia Journalists Association (AJA) and the publisher of the monthly magazine MagazineN, this year, I felt I had known him for a long time. Without getting into details, I came to appreciate that as a leader, he embodied the statement by US writer and orator Robert Ingersoll “We rise by lifting others.” His dedication, humility, integrity, and kindness towards scores of journalists with varying backgrounds and diverse attitudes were truly humbling and his motivation to move forward and his keenness to express views and to share with others were genuinely inspirational.

I liked the fact that Sang-ki, a leader who had chaired the Journalists Association of Korea, saw people, not profiles and that he dealt with situations, not speculations. I have been invariably comfortable talking and eventually cooperating with him. Such traits help us understand why Sang-ki Lee has refused to give up when confronted formidable challenges as he oversaw the regular and steady publication of the magazine and ensuring that so far 69 editions have been issued. Those who have experience in publishing do appreciate the special efforts and the deep sacrifices that publishers must make in order to ensure that their newspaper or magazine keeps coming out on time, complying with high standards and pleasing its readers and followers.

When Sang-ki beamed with pride this month as MagazineN celebrates its sixth anniversary, he was absolutely right. It is given to few magazines to assert themselves in the highly competitive media market and in the face of the ever-evolving and increasingly popular social media platforms. During times of frustration, and they can be numerous in the media sector as we all do know, he refused to quit, even if it meant greater comfort and financial gains. He refused to leave the sector to media mercenaries, profiteers, and scammers who have dropped from their repertoire the meanings of ethics, freedom of expression, support for all kinds of victims and search for the truth away from all forms of fallacies and manifestations of controversies.

By remaining committed to genuine journalism and to building robust bridges between journalists across Asia and well beyond, he has succeeded in fulfilling his vision. Bringing together journalists with diverse religious, economic, linguistic, social and professional backgrounds is part of his vision to make the world a better place for all and to offer opportunities for deeper and more insightful knowledge about Korea, Asia, the world, and very importantly, one another. By keeping MagazineN ahead in the world of media for the last six years, he has succeeded in making one of his dreams come true. The motto “Face it”, favored by Sang-ki, has been making wonders. We do hope that it will continue to inspire and guide not only Sang-ki, but also a large number of journalists who share his vision and dreams.

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