A story needs to be about more than just a blood-line

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A story needs to be about more than just a blood-line

Because of my May 28 column, “Just a drop of Korean blood enough for news media,” I am still getting some responses that look something like this:
Mike Choi, United States:
“Your editorial greatly offended me because you have no clue what it feels like to be Korean-American, and if you did, I guess something happened to you in the past for you to feel so bitter about successful Korean-Americans in the States.” Many readers also thought that I had probably not spend much time in the States.
So for the record, I lived in the States for some eight years and spend a considerable amount of time with Korean-Americans. Some of my friends are Korean-Americans. Now having said that, let me go on with my defense.
I don’t harbor any bitter feelings towards successful Korean-Americans. I salute them for their accomplishments and think it’s great to see what they have achieved.
In my column, I used Hines Ward, a wide receiver for the Pittsburg Steelers, as an example of how the Korean media tends to write about some athletes just for the reason that they have some connection to this country.
The point of my column was that if you write in a newspaper about someone and use more than half the page on him, there needs to some kind of interaction with that person. As far as I am aware, there isn’t a single newspaper in Korea that has had an interview with Ward.
Nobody ever asked him if he knows anything about Korea. Does he has any plans to visit the country? If not, why? Is he aware that the newspapers here write about him? What does he think about it?
These sort of questions are never asked, not only in his case but often with other successful Korean-American athletes. Yet papers write about them, often glorifying them just because there is some connection in the blood line.
I think that’s funny and absurd. Period. This country does not care about football and never writes about football, or even about the Super Bowl (rarely).
Still, they write about Mr. Ward’s achievement for the sole reason that he has a Korean mother. If you are an editor of a paper, you certainly need more than that to justify putting an article in your paper. The bottom line here is this: Why write this article? What’s the news value?
What if Mr. Ward does not care at all about this country (which I think is highly likely)? There is nothing wrong with that. Korea has done nothing to help him to get where he is now. If he views himself as an American, that’s perfectly fine. But then there is even less reason to write about him.
On a side note, I am a great football fan and I would draft Mr. Ward on my fantasy team anytime he is available. (Unfortunately, he has been someone’s keeper for the past three seasons).
I am questioning the practice of some in the media here in that aspect. It’s very shallow journalism ― if you can call it “journalism” at all. My point is only that what some non-Koreans with a touch of Korean blood have done may be great achievements, but they don’t belong in a Korean newspaper unless there is a real context to it, other than just the ethnic factor.

by Brian Lee
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