Taking into Naver’s powerful influence account on shaping mainstream opinion among the citizenry by its “news selection” in terms of “framing” effect, this kind of news aggregation service operator is destined to be embroiled in political controversy, especially in the runup to the Korean presidential election just about four month away from now.
Seoul, Korea ¶ July 11, 2012 -- As evidenced by iTune's growing power to influence users by leveraging its latitude to select and distribute content, an aggregation portal which is serving as a gateway to a collection of news and information, has carried huge weight in terms of “framing”—the inevitable process of selective influence over the individual's perception of the meanings attributed to words or phrases of some particular news provided by the aggregator site.
That is all the more important given that Naver, top aggregation portal in Korea, operates “Naver Newscast” service which, refers to a news streaming one by particular news subject and individual news outlets for the sake of convenience among users.
But, a way of bringing in revenues for the members of news outlets on the service was supposed to give rise to somewhat inevitable issue here: “yellow journalism.” No wonder it's because profits are proportional to the number of “clicks” by viewers, leaving just about any news outlets to come up with increasingly sexy and shocking headlines to be visible on the newscast service.
Taking into account of Naver’s powerful influence on shaping mainstream opinion among the citizenry by its “news selection” capabilities in terms of the “framing” effect, this kind of news aggregation service operator is destined to be embroiled in political controversy, especially in the run-up to the Korean presidential election just about four month away from now. Indeed, more than two thirds of Korean Internet users have Naver as their preferred web search engine and with a twist of sarcasm, some might argue that Korea has been undergoing “Naverization” and the relentless monster has devoured its competitors big and small.
And recently the thing happened: Naver has been under attack by three mainstream Korean newspapers—Chosun, JoongAng, and Dong-A—that its Newscast service has unwittingly helped spread “unsubstantiated” news stories on the Internet. And the major newspapers which run both on and offline newspaper business, have threatened Naver that they would stop providing their news articles to Naver if it fails to screen out those below-standard stories.
Under growing pressure, NHN, the parent company of Naver, decided to open a panel discussion inviting academic and media experts under the title of “Future Direction of its Newscast Service” jointly with the Korea Association for Communications and Information Studies on July 12 at Seoul Press Center located in downtown Seoul.
Naver said although the discussion is not directly related to its “newscast” service, the company is willing to review whether to adopt some of the insights and suggestions proposed in the conference to its business operation. Offering the portal space and blogs for user-generated contents, Naver has been regarded of as a pioneer in the area, locking horns with the established newspapers that have controlled the media industry.
However, the timing of the issue raised by the major three papers smells fishy, according to some media industry experts. They argue that most news shown on the Naver newscast service tend to be characterized by their “liberal-leaning” opinions and that facts are going against the most conservative top three, aka “Cho-Joong-Dong” in this time of an election season.
And some say the ongoing tension between Naver and “Cho-Joong-Dong” is increasingly turning into a kind of “proxy war” – in this case Naver on behalf of small, low-profit and independent online-only media groups and to some extent liberal newsmakers and Cho-Joong-Dong, big, lavish, conservative but having no choice but to be dependent on Newscast service by Naver to give much exposure to their news article in this time of predominantly “online” news consumption era.
Started off as a small start-up at the center of the whirlwind of the dot-com bubble in Korea 13 years ago, Naver grew into a company with a revenue of 2 trillion won, offering a wide range of services including e-mail, newscast, blog, search engine, knowledge search, shopping, and ticket booking.
The self-proclaimed advocate of small entrepreneurs also defends its keyword advertisement for protecting the ecosystem of small companies, saying that 80,000 to 90,000 out of 200,000 companies using search engine advertising service are small entrepreneurs.
Reported by Jeansun Kim; Contributed by Sam Kim (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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