Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The role of media in Korea's 2012 presidential election

December 19, 2012--I've been watching Korean television all evening, watching the election returns and it just seems an appropriate time to make some observations on the role of media in this year's election.
First, the internet, digital networks and social media played a role in the election, but it was not at all like 2002, when youthful members of "Rohsamo" were credited with sweeping Roh Moo Hyun to victory on election day.  Ten years of experience with the new digital media seem to have given Korea a more mature media and political culture.  Mobile voting was used by the opposition party in the Korean equivalent of primaries that chose Moon Jae In as the presidential candidate, and it caused some controversy but there were no major controversies involving the internet and digital networks in the general election.
Second, all of the major television broadcasters covering election results followed some basic rules.  The first of these was that there were no exit poll or computer projections aired until after the polls closed, at 6:00 P.M. in the evening.  The broadcasters did make an effort to build up some suspense leading up to the 6:00 hour.  YTN, for example, displayed an on-screen countdown during the last 60 seconds before 6 P.M. and then proceeded to broadcast its projections based on exit polls.
Third, at 6:00 P.M. all but one of the leading broadcasters projected a narrow win by Park Geun-hye.  However, YTN television predicted that Moon Jae In would win the election.  No doubt there will be considerable analysis of polling methods and results in the coming days!
Finally and perhaps most interesting, most of the broadcasters used cartoons, caricatures of the candidates or animations to illustrate their presentation of results as the night wore on.  For example, SBS used an Indiana Jones, Raiders of the Lost Ark motif along with music from the movie to accompany its presentation of some results, after final projections had been made.   It should be noted that this addition of a light, animated or humorous approach is a general pattern in Korean television content.

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