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Unsung Players on the Frontline: An Examination of Sport Journalists in the Korean Press

Sang Keon Yoo & Paul M. Pedersen (Indiana University-Bloomington)   

Abstract: Sport provides substantial content for a wide range of media platforms. Accordingly, numerous scholars (e.g., Schultz & Sheffer, 2010) have investigated sports journalists, sports journalism, and the changing related workplace circumstances and journalistic roles and routines. However, previous studies (e.g., Boyle, Rowe, & Whannel, 2010) are mainly focused on sports media in Western societies. Sports journalism and affiliated journalists located in Northeast Asia countries (e.g. Korea) have not been the subject of much scholarly inquiry. Because of this dearth – along with the impact and influence of sports journalists and the changing nature of the sport journalism profession – there is a need to examine who Korean newspaper sports journalists are, how their job routines are currently affected by technological changes and industry transition, and how satisfied they are with their jobs and future expectations. To appraise the current status of sport in contemporary Korea, it is beneficial to know sports journalists who are covering sports, because they are the professionals who depict, present, and portray sport for the mass media audiences. Overall, there is a need to study Korean sports journalists per se and how sports journalists are finding a breakthrough in a present newsroom labyrinth. As noted by Yoo, Smith, and Kim (2013), various theoretical foundations have been used to study myriad personnel and topics in sport communication. The present investigation – which is grounded in Social Identity Theory (Tajfel, 1978) – uses a qualitative approach to explore the present situation, work routines, job satisfaction, status, and future strategies of Korean newspaper sports journalists. In particular, the study seeks to examine how technological changes and industry transformations have affected the journalists’ jobs and to determine what they are using to overcome these challenges. Qualitative in-depth interviews were conducted with a sample of eight Korean sports journalists recruited from general, sports, and economic newspapers. The results of the in-depth interviews with the Korean newspaper sports writers – which were selected and categorized according to career longevity, sex, role, and newspaper type – cover the four thematic areas of general demographic data, technological impact, industry transformation impact, and future strategy. The presentation will illustrate both practical implications for the sports journalists as well as theoretical implications for sport communication scholars.