JTBC Reporter Yang Won-bo
Working as a political journalist
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Each year, hundreds of people prepare for the press examination as well as interviews to become reporters. Passing the whole process for each broadcasting company is such an arduous journey that people even refer to it as a type of state level examination. Yang Won-bo (Political Science and International Studies, ’04) is a JTBC political journalist of 13 years who overcame the challenge and is currently living his dream as a reporter.
How it all started
“Ever since I can remember, I’ve always wanted to become a newspaper reporter. I started working for The Segye Times, a Korean newspaper company, in 2005, and for 13 years I’ve been working as a political journalist.” During those 13 years, Yang was also scouted by the JoongAng Ilbo, which is one of Korea’s three biggest newspaper companies. Now he is proudly working as a political journalist at JTBC, a broadcasting company which is also part of the JoongAng Ilbo’s cable TV network.
Yang admits that becoming a news reporter was quite hard. Not only is the press examination itself a gruesome process, but even after you pass the exam, you won’t make it if you fail to appeal to the head of the broadcasting company. It is quite common to see someone who got rejected by one broadcasting company become a reporter in another. Luckily for Yang, he was able to get through the whole process within a year after graduating.
Working as a broadcast journalist
Yang worked as a newspaper reporter for six years. It was only after he started working at JTBC in 2013, that he became a political broadcast journalist. According to Yang, even though both professions are refered to as “journalist” or “reporter,” they are two completely different jobs. It took Yang by surprise when he was told to write a short article based on a phone call soon after he became a broadcast journalist. In his previous job, all articles were based on the number of manuscript pages. “I found out later on that I was only supposed to write a few sentences. In a way, it baffled me because I always thought that writing was an essential part of being a reporter. Only after I started working and gained more experience as a broadcast reporter did I realize that it is a respectable job as it requires you to really think like a TV program producer, picturing every single scenario possible when reporting on an issue.”
Yang also emphasized how crucial it was not to make any news bloopers and to be prepared for all kinds of situations in order to properly and promptly deliver the message to viewers. He recalled last year’s Gyeongju earthquake incident, and he described how anchor Son, JTBC’s main anchor, was able to deliver the news on the spot without any preparation while it took much longer for other broadcasting companies to finally make a report.
When asked about an unforgettable moment as a reporter, Yang right away picked the “Choi Sun-shil incident.” Yang believes that journalism is all about withstanding strong pressure. “The reason why I respect anchor Son so much is because he persevered through all the internal and external pressure that former President Park Geun-hye gave him to get him off the case. October 24th, 2016 was the historical day that JTBC reported about Choi’s tablet PC incident, which worked as a trigger leading to the impeachment of former President Park.” He recalled how that night, all the political journalists stayed up all night, anxiously waiting for a response from the Blue House. The next day, late in the afternoon, former President Park finally made an official apology, admitting her relation to Choi. This is the only case where a news report alone acted as a strong trigger to actually bring down a powerful authority.
Of course, working as a journalist does not always carry benefits. According to Yang, there are times when you have to report a certain issue that involves someone you know. When you have to criticize them, it ruins your relationship with that person, and most of the time it is unamendable. This also happened to Yang, but he stood his ground as it is a journalist’s job to deliver facts and not get swayed by personal emotions. “I strongly believe that it is crucial for a journalist to remain unswayed by dichotomous logic and to take on the watchdog role of keeping authority in check,” said Yang. He ended the interview expressing a hope that there are more Hanyang students challenging themselves and not giving up on becoming journalists, as it is a job people can be proud of.
Park Joo-hyun email@example.com
Photos by Lee Jin-myeong
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