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Yonhap News Agency: Gatekeeper of International News in Korea Won Ho Chang and Jung Ho Han I. Introduction Nowadays most international news comes from the "Big Four" agencies: Associated Press (AP), United Press International (UPI), Reuters, and Agence France Presse (AFP). These world news agencies not only collect news from most countries and territories of the world, they also distribute the news to most of the world's countries and territories.1 They are the paramount sources of world news. However, once the news departs from the world news agencies, it is at the disposal of other gatekeepers. Even though most of these gatekeepers do not have an ability to cover the news, and so cannot add to the amount of raw news, they can exert a gatekeeping power by their selective perception ofworld news. By controlling the size oftheir news hole, by controlling the news selection and by many other means, these gatekeepers can control the flow of foreign news. If their gatekeeping is effective and strong, the whole picture of the world news flow can be transformed, causing at least a partial diminution in the influence of the world news agencies. Among these many foreign news gatekeepers, the national news agencies, which are the coupled systems between the world news agencies and the domestic news media, have an extremely important role in the world news flow.2 The world news agencies do not directly control the distribution of their own news product to all their newspapers, broadcasters, and other clients. In most cases, it is the national news agencies that distribute the world news services to media that otherwise might not receive them. As large-scale news organizations that deal with world news comprehensively and professionally for their country, national news agencies usually function as a powerful foreign news source for their countries' domestic media.3 YONHAP15 Here we can expect a very important gatekeeping effect of national news agencies. These agencies can modify the power ofworld news agencies by transforming the flow of international news. If the national news agencies are sufficiently effective and strong, the impact of world news agencies, particularly their agenda-setting function, can be diminished. Ofthe many national news agencies, we shall focus on South Korea's Yonhap News Agency. Yonhap is Korea's sole independent commercial news agency: it serves newspapers, radio and television broadcasters, and other subscribers.4 Yonhap receives international news and photos from AP, UPI, Reuters, and AFP. It selects and translates them into Korean and distributes them to all the mass media in the country. As the nearly exclusive gatherer and redistributor of foreign news in Korea, Yonhap controls most of the foreign news in the country. The purpose of this study is to investigate how Yonhap filters the foreign news from the "Big Four" agencies, and what results from this gatekeeping. By extension, the authors, in investigating the process ofgatekeeping and the input and output offoreign news, will test the proposition that Yonhap functions as a strong gatekeeper that can significantly diminish the influence of the world news agencies. II. Method In studying the relationship between world news agencies and the Yonhap News Agency, an important question is whether Yonhap functions as a simple transmitter of foreign news from world news agencies or as an influential gatekeeper that can considerably change the flow of international news entering Korea. In other words, the role of Yonhap in international news could be either the "linear passing" or "flexuous redistribution" of raw foreign news from the "Big Four" world agencies.5 This study is concerned with the latter possibility. We shall test whether the Yonhap News Agency, by means of news selection, acquires a significant gatekeeping role. In its intermediary position between world news agencies and Korea's domestic news media, Yonhap is assumed to exert such a strong filtering function by its own news selection that the original characteristics of the news structure might be changed. Its own organizational requirements, which include various forces from outside the agency, are assumed to yield different characteristics of news production from the raw news provided by the world agencies. To test this assumption, we shall investigate both how Yonhap's news filtering...


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pp. 14-37
Launched on MUSE
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