Public Journalism and Civic Engagement: A Remedy to Cure Cynicism Caused by Objective Reporting

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Pundits agree that the journalistic norm of objective news reporting has caused public cynicism, disengaging citizens from public sphere. As an alternative, focus is given to public journalism or civic journalism, which re-maps the journalist’s role from observer to participant, takes a lead to engage citizens in public issues, and eventually searches for resolutions of social problem. News articles propelled by public journalism reflect deviation from the components of objective reporting as indicated by the fact that journalists express frankly their subjective opinions and put forth an effort to find out remedies for dogmatic social problems. From the interdisciplinary perspective of combining communication studies and political science, this study has conducted an experiment in order to answer the question of whether objective reporting actually causes disinterest in and cynicism on public matters and whether public journalism has potential to revitalize civic engagement. It has been revealed that subjects of a group who read objective news reporting demonstrated stronger cynicism whereas those who read public journalism articles expressed their intention to participate in public issues. In conclusion, opportunities and challenges of public journalism are discussed.


Keywords: Public Journalism, Civic Engagement, Objective Reporting, Public Cynicism
Stream: Media and Communications
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Prof. Minha Kim

Assistant Professor, Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, Sungkyunkwan University
Seoul, South Korea

I have received my doctoral degree from the University of Manchester in the UK with my dissertation focusing on the Internet, social capital, and political participation. I have been awarded Arthur McDougall Prize for Best Dissertation from the Political Studies Association of the UK in 2006. I am the first Asian who received the prize in the organization's history. Now, as a professor of journalism and mass communication at Sungkyunkwan University in Korea, I am conducting research on social capital, public journalism, and new media impact. My works appear in the leading scholarly journals including International Political Science Review and Information Polity.

Yun-Kyoung Shin

Graduate Student, Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, Sungkyunkwan University
Seoul, South Korea


Ref: I08P0840