The New Start as a Professor Editor
The New Start as a Professor Editor
  • Jinhee Kim, Ph.D
  • 승인 2016.03.09 19:28
  • 댓글 0
이 기사를 공유합니다

I am the new professor editor of The Postech Times from Spring 2016. This new position is meaningful for me because going back to the early 1990s, I myself was a student reporter of The Korea University Weekly for over two years. I was passionate about my duties and roles, which led me to leaving Korea and pursuing graduate degrees in communications in the U. S. When making the university newspapers about 20 years ago, we went to a typesetting shop every Friday and completed the final stages of production processes. I still remember that we often went to a gamja-tang (pork back-bone stew) restaurant after completing the work and released tensions from the production by having a few drinks. I particularly remember that over one winter break, all the student reporters in our editorial office folded more than 20,000 newspapers of a New Year Issue manually and sent them out to the university members’ home addresses. We were up all night without any particular compensation. These are several vivid memories from my student reporter years.         
Based on my own experiences as a student reporter and academic background, I would like to suggest three important roles of The Postech Times. First, both student reporters and Postechians should understand the newspaper’s agenda-setting role. News media tell us what to think “about” and what issues are important. Many issues and events exist in reality. However, not all events and issues are covered in the newspaper. Given that members of the university rely on information provided by the newspaper, it is important to acknowledge that the members may not know important issues if the issues are not covered in the university newspaper. Therefore, student reporters should have obligations to fulfill the university members’ right to be informed. They should actively seek new issues that should be become public. At the same time, Postechians should keep in mind the agenda-setting role critically and provide useful information to the editorial office via various interactive channels. In doing so, important issues that we have to know can be covered timely. 
Second, The Postech Times should provide in-depth investigative news coverage. I do not believe that news reporters should always adhere to the objectivity of journalistic norms. In Michael Schudson’s book <Discovering the News>, he argues that “the belief in objectivity is a faith in ‘facts,’ a distrust in ‘values,’ and a commitment to their segregation.” Journalism scholars were concerned about great emphasis on objectivity that may excuse lazy reporting and passive reception of news. Thus, news reporters can be participants, not just third persons (observers), who engage Postechians with important issues and seek solutions to the issues. In addition to providing straight news that delivers factual information based on five W’s and one H (who/when/where/what/why/how) along with balanced claims from two opposing sides, in-depth coverage that investigates fundamental problems of issues were are facing are needed to preserve public interest and provide clues for substantial change. Investigative news coverage per se may not be able to solve problems directly; however, the coverage can provide alternative directions by connecting various opinions from key figures, experts, and relevant positions coherently. The news can further encourage Postechians’ active participation and deliberation through interactive channels linked with social media platforms.     
Third and finally, The Postech Times should discover seemingly trivial yet powerful moving news stories around the university community. This kind of news is known to induce elevation responses from readers. Specific portrayals of this type of news may include moral excellence, such as loyalty, self-sacrifice, charity, and kindness. For example, Psychologist Jonathan Haidt introduced the following episode that may induce elevation response. On a heavy snow day, several guys in a car observed an old woman who was about to shovel her driveway. One of them asked a driver to let him off. Perhaps, he wanted to take a short distance to get home. However, the guy is offered to shovel for her. Like this example, some people in our community may strive to maintain human dignity and integrity through honesty, courage, and empathy even if they are in unfortunate situations. Elevation responses to news stories characterize other-praising emotions that reflect admiration and gratitude and that often induce sadness and happiness simultaneously (e.g., lump in throat). It is important to publicize altruism by covering elevation-inducing news articles because this emotion facilitates the motivation of readers to become a better person and do good things for other people. Importantly, elevation is contagious and has a great potential to strengthen social affiliation/cooperation among members and emotional attachment to their community. The causal link between exposure to elevation-inducing materials and actual altruistic behaviors has been proved through social scientific experiments.           
Understanding news media’s agenda-setting role critically, seeking investigative reporting, and discovering elevation-inducing news are, indeed, crucial to form and further maintain social capital in our community. Note that the three things aforementioned are not an exhaustive list. According to Political Scientist David Putnam, social capital can be defined as networks, norms, and social trust that can be used to pursue and achieve common goals of community members. It is intangible assets accumulated through the relationships among people. Social capital is known to increase people’s interests in public issues, facilitate interpersonal trust, and encourage opinion expression, which all promote community members’ participatory intention regarding various university activities. I believe that The Postech Times can play an active role in building social capital in our community. I hope that the newspaper team comes up with innovative ideas on news items that can provide useful information, alternative perspectives, and social support. In doing so, it will help bring people together particularly in times of crises.