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Journalist Fellows' Papers

Striking a balance between informing and sensation-alising: South Korean broadcasters and the MERS outbreak

Reuters Institute Fellow's Paper

Disaster reporting by public broadcasters fulfils a number of roles: the provision of accurate information, on the ground reporting and holding the authorities to account. But the role of the PSBs has been changed by the reporting of direct experience made available via social media networks and user generated content. Using the MERS outbreak of 2015 as his core research, Jay Daniel Kim shows how the broadcasters covered the outbreak, and the extent to which their “control” of the narrative - already to some degree constrained by earlier criticisms of their “over-reporting” of the previous SARS outbreak - was changed by the increasing volume of social media reporting. He concludes that the editorial balance of power shifted - away from government controlled messages, faithfully reported by the media, to social media derived reporting which became the staple of broadcast news: and he looks ahead to how broadcasters will need to adapt themselves to this changed environment in this, one of their most important and exposed roles.

As with all Fellows’ research papers, any opinions expressed are those of the author and not of the Institute.

Image: REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji