‘Media acts as watchdog to protect public interest against malpractice and create public awareness.’ (Roy,2015)
Mass Media usually acting as the role of reporting what’s happening in the society in our everyday life, no matter the news that about the political or public issues, breaking news in the society, or even the gossip news about the celebrities. Media like newspaper and news report usually acting the role of ‘Gate-keeping’ that selecting the news story by the determining news value of the news, or selecting those news that they want the audiences to know, and reporting them to the public.
‘Why do we need gatekeeper journalists anymore? The public need reliable, intelligent and relevant sources which they can go to for news, thus creating a push to try and deregulate clickbait and fake news within the media.’ (Tutheridge,2017)
Nowadays, we can be receiving the information and news from the internet easier and let us to providing our own feedback on the social media at the same time. The social media also become one of the main platforms for receiving information which published by the media to the public and expresses or share their own opinions with others for those issues.
Every news and issues have their value and effect to the public, but can every one of them be able to get the public attention and discussion on them?
Situation of South Korea
In South Korea, the discussion and surmise of the whether the media especially the social media are being used to for shifting people attention from public or political issues to the celebrities’ private affairs and gossip news, sometimes discuss among the social media site like blogs and forum sites, when there are some political issues and gossip news of celebrities are being published at the same period of time.
(Photo: HK 01)
Case 1:T.O.P drug issue vs THAAD issue
On 1st June 2017, T.O.P (Choi Seung-Hyun), a member of the famous K-pop boy band ‘BIGBANG’, was believed to have overdosed on the benzodiazepine, which a class of tranquilizers includes well-known brand name drugs like Valium, while he was undertaking mandatory military service and rushed to a Seoul hospital. (Rappler,2017)
This news caught the public attention as this case is out of the expectation for the public especially the fans of ‘BIGBANG’ and the K-pop Lovers, cannot believe with his action of taking drugs. The discussion and news reports of his action on taking drugs also being the hot issue among the social media in Korea. Also growing as the global entertainment news due to the popularity of ‘BIGBANG’ and also the ‘Korean Wave ‘among the world. Pann, a forum which allows users freedom to give out comments and discussing articles and post among the youngers in Korea, a discussion about the T.O.P’s drug issue also created on this forum on the same day. People keep discussing on his negative behaviors like about the drug issues and be caught of smoking before, under the topic ‘Hul, TOP was caught with marijuana by the police’.(K-POP, K-FANS, 2017)
(Translation of People comments on Pann)
However, some netizens also find out that actually there is a political issue which about the action of setting up the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system happened on the same day as T.O.P’s drug issue be published. That issues mentioned that the South Korean President Moon Jae-In ordered an investigation into the case of the deployment of four more launchers for the THAAD system that his office had not been informed to him. (Kim, 2017)
The issues about THAAD system is a global political issue which related to missile launches by North Korea, the effects and news values of the issue also will be affecting and be important to the public. However, in this case, the public attention on it seemed being shifted to T.O.P’s drug issue which published on the same day. The discussions and searching amounts of T.O.P’s drug issue were higher than the THAAD issue on the social media on that day. The severity of the THAAD issue seems to become off focus comparing to T.O.P’s drug issue.
Therefore, some netizens linked these two issues together with the surmises as for the attention shifting tool. (HK01, 2017)The discussions and surmises of discussing whether the media are being used again for shifting people attention with the THAAD case to T.O.P’s drug issue also appear on the social media again, thinking that T.O.P’s issue just the tools to cover the THAAD issue to the public. Because the phenomenon of the political issues being published during the same period of time with the gossip issues or celebrities’ private affairs often happened. And most of the people usually thinking of this is only the tools for shifting people’s attention from the political issues only. It is not fair for the public to know more details and the information about the political issues which actually they have the right to know, but the focus of the public putting on usually shifted to those gossip news which has the more searching rate on the social media perfectly.
Drama reflecting the truth?
‘The news reports should put the priorities to what the audiences want to watch or what we should watch?’
This is one of the best quotes from the Korean Drama, ‘Pinocchio (피노키오) ‘, which is a drama about the stories of the journalists on the ways they choose to using and struggles the may be facing on while they reported the truth of the news issues to the public. In the drama, there are two news issues which related to chemical waste factories and fire explosion which caused casualties, but both of them were also being negative reporting by the media, or even using other issues like the Olympic games for shifting focus in order to make the public forget about what was happened in the incident. These made the victims and their families hurt from the way of the media reported on those issues. However, the reason why the media would reporting in such way rather than telling all the truth is due there is some huge power behind which are controlling the direction of the way of the media report. (Epochtimes,2015)
In the real-life society, it is also common to happen with the similar situations from the drama. With the transferring or shifting focus and attention by deliberately from one issue to another issue, people usually easily forget what was happening or focusing on the original one.
The drama used the importance of the truth and the power of the journalism as the main theme. (Martinez, 2015) Or even in some ways, it is reflecting the real positions and skills of the media on reporting the issues, which are commonly used and be commented on and discussed by the public especially the netizens on the Korean media. And the stories and facts of how media helping to manage the attention of the public and the way they reported on the public issues also make the public and the society have the reflection on what should be the role and the effects of the media to the public.
Case2:Park and Lee’s dating issue vs sexual issue vs bribery issue
However, on early July 2015, the two main actors and actress of this drama, Park Shin-Hye and Lee Jong-Suk also falling into the dating issues after the drama ended, by the famous media company in the Korea society- Dispatch, which always discovered the breaking dating news of the famous celebrities. (Allkpop,2015) Their dating issue leaded amount of discussion on the social media as both of them are the famous actor and actress and also their drama was just ended. The facts and effects to the public of their dating issue even ironically as what they’ve acted in the drama, used and helping to cover and shifting the public attention from another serious social issue which happened at the same period of time.
There was a serious social issue about the sexual violence of three mother-son from the father reported by the JoongAng Ilbo, one of the News company in South Korea in early July 2015. And this issue was leading some discussion in the society. The video of the three victims try to tell the truth of their situation was also spreading and be discussing by the netizens on the internet and social media. Many people want to pay more attention to the three victims’ situation and want to give a helping hand to them after the video and the details of this issue had been reported by the media.
Another social issue that happened at the same period of time as the gossip issue of Park and Lee was the investigation for bribery by the CEO of a construction company in South Korea to the important officials in the South Korea government. This issue involved three secretaries of the secretary of the South Korea government and also the former prime minister Lee Wan-Koo, and reported by the media in early July 2015. (Choe, 2015)
The two social issues about the sexual violence and the bribery from the business company to the government officials suppose should be valued from the public’s attention as both of them were the serious and critical issues about the sexual crimes in the families and the integrity between the business companies and the government. And the public also trying to focus on the facts and details of the issues and keep discussing on the social media or even thinking of the solution to help the victims. Moreover, with the gossip dating news of the famous actor and actress had been released, the attention of the public easily shifted to it from the social issues. The discussion of the netizen on social media also easily turning into the gossips about the celebrities rather than the social issues.
And this is similar to what happened the drama ‘Pinocchio’ for the way and skills of media while they’re reporting on the specific social issues. When the issue becoming popular and hot among the social media, it can get the attention of the public easily with more searching records on the social media. At the same time, other issues may be hidden due to the lower record of searching and discussion on social media from the public.
The tool of shifting attention?
Last by not least, there is also some discussion from the Korean netizens on the media company Dispatch, as it is a completely independent media with the operating and interview rights in South Korea, and not be controlling and ruling by any TV or entertainment companies. So that many netizens think that it is just the tool to help on covering the political scandal for the government and the reason why they will reporting the gossip news at the same time when there are something happened related to the social issues. (kknews, 2016)
‘Because the government has a big deal! If the government wants to cover up and burst out with gossip, then those affairs will naturally be obscured.’ (kknews, 2016) One of the netizens commented with the above for Dispatch’s gossip news and also the phenomenon of the social issue and the gossip news.
Maybe it is just a coincidence for the timelines of those political issues and the celebrities’ private affairs happened at the similar time period, but it is every time can be defined as a coincidence? Or even think deeper, is this phenomenon actually related or even affecting the inequality of information for the public, and the right for the public to know and receiving those political issues from the media? Why do the government want to shift the public attention to the gossip issue rather than to let them know the real site of those the political issue?
‘Issues are covered by issues.’ this is a quote from the Korean film ‘The King’. (Wishnote, 2018) The right of the public to know the truth seems to be inequality of receiving the issues from the media. As the gate-keeper for the public, the role of media should be equality on reporting what the audiences need to know. However, nowadays the media seems to put the priorities and the value of news to what audiences may want to know rather than what they should be concerning of. This is also the reason why the public can easily shift their attention to the celebrities gossips rather than the social issues they may concerning to before. And the one who didn’t want the public pay too much attention to those social issues also seeing through with this phenomenon.
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