We are proud to present the annual KACA Dissertation Award for 2018 to Byung Wook Kim, for his dissertation project titled The political economy of media framing in Korea: An analysis of Korean news coverage of climate change from 1995 to 2015 using text analytics.
This award is given to assist the completion of a dissertation project focusing on Korea-related communication topics. The recipient will be awarded with a total of $1,000, and the findings will be presented at one of the KACA research sessions at the NCA, ICA or AEJMC in 2019-2020. The abstract of the project and a brief biography of the author can be found below.
The political economy of media framing in Korea: An analysis of Korean news coverage of climate change from 1995 to 2015 using text analytics
This dissertation lies in the intersection of global and local discourses of the issues surrounding climate change in South Korea (hereafter, Korea). The purpose of this study is to show how those holding neoliberal ideologies have co-opted environmental discourses in Korea that have traditionally been used by more progressive and pro-environmental groups in order to promote the views of more conservative and market-oriented groups.
I examined the newspapers from before economy-oriented ideas became noticeable in the news coverage of climate change and then continued to examine the newspapers through the time period when these trends became noticeable and persisted in both conservative and progressive newspapers. Presenting the shifts of the trends in news coverage as evidence of naturalization of thoughts that associated the environment with the economy in Korean society, I argue that the Korean media intentionally or unintentionally have imbued the discourses about the environment with economy-oriented ideas.
With regard to supporting climate science, drawing attention to environmental issues, and calling for actions to mitigate the problems attributed to climate change, the increased news coverage of climate change in Korea is a welcome trend. However, the political economy scholars have warned that the directions in which such discourses lead us need to be scrutinized because certain ways of defining the environmental problems and representing corresponding solutions embed ideological processes. If the directions of such discourses are left unquestioned, Koreans may only experience meaningless words, such as ‘green,’ ‘environment,’ or ‘eco-friendly,’ on the news coverage that can be used to represent most policies, technologies, and ideologies as if all of those favor the ideas of environmentalism, even though many of them in fact favor the ideas of developmentalism.
I analyzed four key Korean newspapers, focusing on their reactions to the 1997 Kyoto climate conference (the Kyoto Protocol) and the more recent Paris Agreement. By defining the networks of words and clusters of words as the news frames, the research questions ask how the news frames were distributed over time reflecting political, economic, and cultural changes of Korean society, and how these trends of news frames differed from one newspaper to another based on the different political or ideological leanings of each of the newspapers. I used a computer language software, Python, to collect and analyze the data. My data set consists of 21,423 news articles that of 4,865,686 keywords in total by exclusively extracting nouns and noun-forms from sentences. I employed the so-called ‘big data’ analyses to show the shift of semantic networks over time and that of clusters of words over time.
Theoretically, my study suggests that media framing of climate change in Korean newspapers has been an ideological process to make it natural to associate the economy-oriented ideas with the environmental discourse, representing the neoliberal transition of the country weaving into a structure of the world economy. Methodologically, my study suggests a way to analyze the news texts by using a computer programing. Providing the Python code, I may help the future researchers to employ this technique.
Byung Wook Kim is a Ph.D. candidate (ABD) of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Iowa. His research interest includes media framing of global issues, or the process of construction of social meanings of issues, in the political, economic, and cultural contexts. His research employs content analysis, time-series analysis, and computational methods. Research topics encompass global issues, such as man-made disasters including climate change, and other issues contextualized in global and domestic politics such as, images of nations and relationships between countries. He received his master’s degree in Mass Communications from Iowa State University, master’s degree in Communication from Korea University, and bachelor’s degree in Engineering from Korea University.