Classical news media such as newspapers, radio, television and various forms of digital media are common to the youth. The reason 20-year-olds’ interest in hard news is low might be because portals lead them to select limited information or they have lost faith in the reliability of journalism and society. By finding the obstacles that make the younger generation look away the hard news, The Argus revealed each reason and valid solutions.
Older generations say that younger generations are not interested in society and do not watch the news. However, young people think they do read the news mainly through their smartphones. The reason for the gap between each generation is that there are two kinds of news: hard news and soft news, which deal respectively with political, economic, and social areas, and entertainment, sports, and cultural news. Even the voting rate has increased compared to the past, why is our interest in hard news getting lower and lower?
These days, those in their 20s utilize information which is directly related to them. Therefore, they regard most hard news as irrelevant to them.
“I feel distant from current affairs and they do not seem to be influential to me,” said Lim Ye-ji, a sophomore in the Dept. of Arabic Interpretation and Translation.
The environment surrounding 20-year-olds makes them avoid complicated hard news. The media, originally newspaper, television, and radio, widened to Internet portal websites and social network services. Since portal like Naver or Daum is major news reading platform for those in their 20s, people can only choose soft news based on headlines.
“People in the past could naturally access to the issues of hard news when they read the sports section of the newspaper or listened to the weather report on the television. Now, we can select news tabs from the display on electronic devices, so people can thoroughly avoid hard news. I think many people may fall into this vicious cycle,” said Ha Joon-seok, a junior of Sogang Business School.
Previous generations have accumulated background knowledge on major issues. On the other hand, it is difficult for young people to fully understand social affairs unless they keep track of the events at the beginning. For example, the recent strike of public broadcasters from MBC and KBS was fundamentally started from the past government’s scheme to control TV networks in 2008, so people cannot entirely grasp the affair without knowing the former story.
Likewise, the current news has a series of connections with past events. Since Korea has undergone rapid social changes during the last 60 years, the coming generations need more and more background knowledge to understand the latest news.
Jeon Song-hui, a sophomore of Konkuk University Glocal Campus, said, “Hard news is unfamiliar to me because I do not exactly know economic terms, political institutes, or the principles of bitcoins or stocks.”
In other words, the younger generations are in troubles as they lack context that older generations have.
Recent news media environments have been broadened. Therefore, the need of journalism education has intensified as the reader should discern correct and meaningful information. However, the education curriculum for reading the news does not exist in elementary, middle, and high schools.
Compared to European nations, Korea is very poor in news literacy education, which encourages social participation and reading news by responding critically to news.
Filtering useful information is becoming complex. It does not make sense that society forces pupils to read hard news in this reality. Students who are in the process of becoming one of the mature members in society need to learn how to read and understand the context of the news properly.
The decisive reason that a lot of 20-year-olds feel disconnected from hard news is because they cannot play a role as influential members of society. Even if the voting rate itself is rising, their social efficacy cannot be grown with just a few peer politicians who cannot represent the majority. The youth cannot realize their social efficacy not only in institutional politics but also non-institutional politics, real life.
European Union (EU) political parties have organized a system that ensures the younger can solve local problems and grow as active agents of their region. As a result of the lack of similar institutions locally, twenty-year-olds in Korea who have a shortage of political leverage feel that they have no power to make changes.
The Internet is the main news media for those in their 20s, which tends to make fragmentary articles especially in hard news. However, segments are unable to reveal the entire incident.
Also, the press has focused on immediately delivering newly produced events, neglecting the fact that in the new flow of news the consumer needs a more specified explanation. While the media environment has experienced drastic changes, news coverage has failed to adjust.
Currently, secondary education is mainly utilizing a memorization method so as to garner higher scores on exams for university entrance. However, the closed education approaches fail to keep up with the changing reality. That is why education on journalism is not conducted enough.
Kwon Young-pu, an Economics teacher of Dongbuk High School, said, “The Economics textbook teaches the transition of money, but it does not contain practical knowledge about things such as bitcoins. The school that fosters children to become citizens should provide a substantive education.”
A teacher who teaches Korean, Kang Yong-chul of Kyunghee Woman’s Middle School also said, “I think university students do not look for hard news because they lack democratic citizen education through the participation in diverse fields when they were elementary and middle school students. They studied for university in school, but still there are few opportunities to discuss society or culture. After all, the cultural paradigm to watch the news led to decreased interest in hard news.”
It is necessary to enhance the political efficacy of young people because raising their interest in social issues is essential.
Society needs to develop citizenship so that the younger generation can have a role as members of the world. First of all, communication between the youth and politicians should be settled by ensuring a ratio of young politicians, who are less than 40 years old. That is, twenty-year-olds need to be able to consider politics as relatable. Specifically, there is a way to allocate parliamentary seats to young people.
People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy adopted their task to allocate 30 percent of the proportional representation and 10 percent of the local election to the youth at a press conference held last August.
Furthermore, society should foster the mood of reading hard news by increasing news exposure and lead indifferent twenty-year-olds to active civil participation.
An information provider should provide reliable information that explains the background and context, which enables many in their 20s to share and empathize. In Korea, JTBC is an example of a provider that is covering an affair for a long time and adding follow-up articles or anchor briefings with explanation. This in-depth reporting is more powerful than arraying simple situation.
Also, those in their 20s use their PC and smartphone to read news rather than traditional media such as newspapers, television and radio. Featuring new media’s hypertext, immediacy, and interactivity between journalists and readers, the press promotes overall the understanding of the reader.
The World Association of Newspapers announced that newspapers will face a risky situation unless they gain young people’s attention. Korean media should also consider people’s awareness by improving the contents of traditional media news or adopting new format programs.
Education that does not match with reality is preposterous. The bridge connecting theory and reality is news. The purpose of new literacy education is to develop civic capacity based on critical acceptance of the news.
Therefore, schools should help students to discern what is high-quality news and to have desirable attitudes. Ultimately, they should aim for students to find a balance between hard news and soft news.
The Ministry of Education could make an independent curriculum for news literacy education, but it is a good idea to focus on adopting additional sections within the current curriculum.
It requires a lot of studying to fully understand the daily news, especially hard news. However, if you constantly care about society by accessing news about social affairs, you will be able to form your own values gradually. Keep a balance between hard and soft news, not just reading about preferable issues but also necessary ones.
By You Seo-yeon, Han Byeong-ji
Associate Editor, Reporter of National Section