TV shooting site. Getty Image Bank
I took part as a moderator for a period in a current affairs program co-produced by a local broadcasting station. It was a valuable opportunity to experience the broadcast production site up close, but the conversation I had with the 30-year-old staff in charge of make-up was particularly memorable. He said he had been involved in the production of the program for a long time before I joined, but had not actually watched the programme. This is because current affairs programs are considered irrelevant programs in all aspects, such as text and format, and above all, as a genre that men should watch. However, since I participated as a moderator, I thought I could watch it myself, so I started watching it from time to time. Although only the gender of the moderator was changed, the program felt completely different. The conversation I had with him transformed my abstract thoughts about media diversity into concrete direct experience. For me, who had approached media diversity from a ‘political correctness’ perspective, it gave me the realization that diversity can be considered not only in terms of a necessary concept, but also in terms of a broadcaster’s practical business strategy to attract viewers. What reminded me a long time ago is that (KBS) presented the results of a diversity analysis conducted on its content recently for the first time in the history of public broadcasting. On the 24th, the Korea Broadcasting System’s Center for Gender Equality and the Public Media Research Institute released the results of the diversity evaluation conducted on the Korea Communications Commission’s ‘Media Diversity Survey’ data from 2017 to 2021 and its current affairs program broadcasts. As a result of the analysis, the Korean society reproduced in Korean broadcast news was, in a word, a society of ‘men in their 50s and 60s’. The male-to-female composition ratio of the characters who appeared in the news was 3:1, and males were the majority, and according to age, males between 50 and 69 accounted for the majority. Unlike dramas which show a relatively equal gender ratio, news and current affairs programs are mainly produced by ‘men in their 50s and 60s’. This is because specialist informants who appear in news and current affairs programs focus mainly on men. A similar critical thought came from an article criticizing a new program (tvN). ‘Suseulinjap’ (various secret human dictionary that is useless if you know it), corresponding to the 6th derivative program of ‘Suseulsinjap (various secret dictionary that is useless if you know it) ‘, which gained popularity as information entertainment series (November 26th) noted that the participation of female panels was insufficient. Lack of diversity is not a problem unique to Korea. A similar problem was repeated in the results of ‘Race and Leadership in News Media’ carried out earlier this year by the Reuters Institute of Journalism linked to the University of Oxford in the UK, targeting five countries, including the UK, USA, Germany, Brazil and South. Africa. It was largely a racial issue, but only 21% of the 100 media brands surveyed had non-white editors (decision makers in news reporting) active. Excluding South Africa, the proportion fell even more sharply, with only 8% of non-white editors, despite 31% of the population being non-white. Even more surprising is the absence of non-white editors in Brazil and Germany. It’s late, but I send support to Korean broadcasting’s efforts to improve diversity, and hope that more broadcasters will consider this issue seriously. Not only because it is politically correct, but also because it will undoubtedly become a link that attracts viewers.
Seon Han, Professor of Journalism and Broadcasting, Honam University