Election report card

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Election report card

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After the April 13 general election, the three parties’ situation reminds me of a certain high school moment that always used to frighten me.
The Saenuri Party, which was always at the top of the class, couldn’t believe its eyes when its report card came in — second place, a certified B. But the Saenuri Party does not want any consolation. It wants to fabricate the report to change the grade.

The Minjoo Party of Korea performed better than expected, and now it cannot help but smile. Amid the crowd’s applause, it glanced at the Saenuri Party, feeling a little awkward, but finishing first. Now, however, it worries that it has to do well the next time around.

The People’s Party is a transfer student who came in third — the dark horse with full marks in mathematics. While it didn’t do so well in other subjects, excelling in math is impressive.

The analogy may seen comical, but after the election, broadcasters are also in similar situations. They, too, are now reflecting on their report cards.

The three networks are evaluated according to the exit polls. They spent more than 6 billion won ($5.3 million) on the survey, and since the money practically comes from the viewers and citizens, they are pressured to make accurate predictions.

The three networks praised their predictions. While the margin of error was in the double digits, they predicted the Saenuri Party would fail to keep the majority. The Saenuri Party got 122 seats. MBC predicted they would take 118 to 136 seats, KBS predicted 121 to 143 seats and SBS forecasted 123 to 147 seats.

They used colorful graphics and stage settings. This time, expensive robot shows and period dramas were used as well. Some viewers found it entertaining; others criticized the networks for making their election coverage look like a variety show.

I don’t want to criticize people for making a big fuss over the election. After all, the election process is the flower of democracy. But it is regrettable that this flower has lost its scent. Broadcasters don’t seem to care about the public sentiment expressed. The flower of democracy has become an artificial one, and broadcasters are racehorses dashing to the finish line.

For the election coverage, JTBC made an attempt to seek new ways of communication. For the first time in Korea, JTBC had a live broadcast on Facebook. The anchor came out of the studio to talk to viewers and communicate with posts and replies.

The new attempt received positive responses, and posts by the viewers, and Facebook users, were the most surprising. There were 18,000 replies. If it takes two seconds to read one reply, it would take 10 hours to read them all. While the networks were dashing for ratings, viewers were waiting for a chance to speak. The 18,000 replies are the grim report card from viewers to the media.

JoongAng Ilbo, April 22, Page 30.

KIM SEUNG-HYUN

*The author is a deputy political news editor for JTBC.

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