Making Korean American news : Korean American journalists and their news media



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One of the main purposes of this dissertation is to examine who Korean American diaspora-oriented journalists are and how they make news, taking into account several forces on the individual, organizational, extramedia, and social system levels that influence the gatekeeping processes and news content. In addition, this dissertation investigates what interests Korean American diaspora-oriented journalists mainly serve. The author surveyed journalists working for major Korean diaspora-oriented media in Los Angeles and conducted in-depth interviews with experienced personnel involved in the Korean diasporic journalism industry. In addition, two major Korean diasporic dailies were content-analyzed.
The basic characteristics of the majority of Korean American-oriented journalists in 2008 are depicted as follows: male Korean Americans, 30 to 40 years old, born in Korea, with a bachelor’s degree, in the United States and working as journalists for less than 15 years, politically liberal, Protestant religious backgrounds, with previous journalism experience at another media organization. Korean diaspora-oriented journalists place emphasis on three major news topics: immigration, business/economy, and education. Cultural proximity rather than geographical proximity significantly influence the degree of newsworthiness of a news story. Newsworthiness is highest when an event/issue has both high cultural proximity and geographical proximity. When geographical proximity is low and cultural proximity is high, newsworthiness in Korean American-oriented journalism is moderately high. If the degree of cultural proximity is low, however, it does not matter whether the news story occurred in Los Angeles or other states or countries in determining the degree of newsworthiness.
The Korean American journalists value the interracial harmonizer function most, followed by the disseminator, ethnic consolidator, and interpreter functions. The finding suggests that Korean diaspora-oriented journalists keep in mind that their foremost responsibility is to help Korean immigrants settle smoothly in their new host country and to live in harmony with other racial groups. The longer a Korean journalist has lived in the U.S., the more he or she tends to embrace the interracial harmonizer and ethnic consolidator functions. In other words, the longer Korean American journalists stay in the U.S., the more sensitive they become both to racial issues and to their own ethnic identities.