Monday, August 11, 2008

[The Hankyoreh, August 8 2008] [Column] The souring of organizational culture

Yeo Hyeon-ho, Editorial writer

It was around 1993. A reporter for the Chosun Ilbo and a reporter from the Hankyoreh Sinmun were walking around the prosecution and ended up sitting next to each other in the office of Hong Joon-pyo, then a violent crimes prosecutor with the Seoul District Prosecution. We exchanged idle pleasantries but ended up in a childish debate about what a reporter is supposed to be. The Hankyoreh reporter said a newspaper reporter needed to be a critical intellectual, and the Chosun reporter said the reporter’s job was to gather information. Prior to taking the hiring test at the Chosun, this person had taken the hiring test at the Hankyoreh. I don’t remember his facial expression at the time. What I do remember was the curious smile on Hong’s face as he watched two early thirtysomething journalists in a lame debate.

I’m not trying to play a rerun of that discussion. Opinions can differ about whether it is criticism or producing content that should come first for a newspaper. My own thoughts on this have changed over the years. The two young journalists may now feel differently as well about the question of whether a journalist is an intellectual who keeps watch on those in power or a salary man who handles information, depending on the situation or position in which one may find oneself.

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