Television news formats and constructing the public sphere: A case study on the sewol ferry disaster

Yungwook Kim, Jiyoung Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper uses four types of television news formats and other variables (news story types, news length, news contents, and news sources) to examine how the public sphere is formed by disaster news today. By using content analysis, news stories aired on seven major broadcasting channels in South Korea were investigated. This paper found that restricted and limited formats comprise the majority of South Korean disaster news. These formats consisted of straight news reports with a short length while extended and expansive news formats used interview reports the most with relatively extensive lengths. Comprehensive programming channels, especially the JTBC channel, presented more open formats portraying various opinions in more depth than terrestrial broadcasting channels. The results of this study also showed that government-related officials and perpetrators functioned more often as news sources in an extended format than in other formats. However, in a limited news format, victims and citizens served more often as news sources than others.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)453-488
Number of pages36
JournalKorea Observer
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
**** This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea grant, funded by the Korean Government (NRF-2014S1A3A2038236). **** Corresponding Author; Yungwook Kim is professor at School of Communica-tion and Media, Ewha Womans University. E-mail: **** Jiyoung Lee is Ph.D. student at S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communica-tions, Syracuse University. E-mail:

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 by INSTITUTE OF Korean STUDIES.


  • Disaster news
  • News sources
  • Public sphere
  • Sewol ferry
  • Television news formats


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