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Kim Phil-kyu, JTBC Reporter to fact-check factual assertionsJTBC <팩트 체크> 김필규 기자
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승인 2016.03.21  15:27:26
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▲ Kim Phil-kyu, reporter of JTBC

     A news program attracts young people because of its new format of fact checking politician’s statements and commonly accepted views. It is JTBC’s "Fact Check", awarded as the best broadcast news of the year by the Citizens Coalition for Democratic Media in 2015. Last February, the Chonnam Tribune visited JTBC to interview a news reporter, Kim Phil-kyu, a host of "Fact Check".
     The day this reporter met Mr. Kim was the first day of his vacation. With a trembling heart, I arrived at JTBC where Mr. Kim welcomed me with a big smile. The interview started with a conversation. As the conversation went on, I became relaxed and asked why he decided to become a reporter. He said that being a reporter was not his dream job as a young kid. “To be honest, I did not know much about reporters. After I became a reporter, I understood what reporters do. Through the job, I am still learning.” He was very prudent to answer each question and had a humble attitude during the interview. 
     Most of people might recognize him as a host of the "Fact Check" spot in the “Newsroom” program. However, it was not easy for him to decide to host this. He had refused the offer to operate it at first. Despite of his refusal, Sohn Suk-hee made him host the fact checking spot. Which I think was an excellent choice of Mr. Sohn. With a smile, he gave me the excuses about his first decision. He was in charge of another program for six months. So, he did not really want to start something new. Besides, he thought it would be impossible for him to broadcast every day, all alone. He was also afraid of all the risks he might face. He sounded just like others which made me feel emotionally closer. I mean, he sounded very normal. But, over time, he realized we need such a program as "Fact Check" to monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by the media. He said, “Now, people think fact-checkers are important adherents of journalism, so I do not regret my decision.”
     Being a fact-checker is a tough job. Being a reporter means that you are sorry for someone all the time since this job is to criticize and point out wrong things. He reminded us to always deal with thoroughly prepared facts. He, himself, tries to have more information than anyone else. Any questions should be within the boundary of our studies. He pointed out that, “The more information you have, the better the news article that is produced.” He joked, “Usually, it is the personal questions that I find hard to answer. For example, if I wash the dishes well or why I did not donate blood. I laughed.
     Before letting him go on a vacation, I asked him for one important thing to keep in mind as a pre-journalist. He said, “We cannot ask for nor push readers to read the news. It is a boilerplate but the most important thing is you, student reporters, to come up with GOOD content!” An hour of talk motivated me to put more effort into the things I do. It seemed like he is making his own values and beliefs through his career. With respect, I think he deserves the title of ‘real journalist’.

 
   
▲ Interviewing with Kim Phil-kyu at JTBC

Why did you decide to become a reporter?
Being a reporter was not my dream job as a young kid. I started late. To be honest, I did not know much about reporters. After I became a reporter, I learnt who reporters are. Through the job, I’m still learning. Since I had a later start than others, I have become a more prudent and humble person.

We’ve heard that Mr. Sohn Suk-hee made you host “Fact check”? Were there any special reasons that you did not want to host it?
First, before I hosted “Fact check”, I was in charge of another program about politics. I was responsible for this program for six months, and I finally became familiar with it. So, I really did not want to start something new. Second, I thought it would be impossible for me to broadcast everyday all alone. Third, this is the main reason. The Korea Communications Commission will impose sanctions against the broadcast that is not based on the web as well as the Press Arbitration Commission and there is also a risk of a lawsuit. So, I thought, if I take this work, I might be covered all over with wounds. That is why I refused to host “Fact check”. But, over time, I realized we need a program like “Fact check” to monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by the media. Now, people think fact-checkers are important adherents of journalism, I do not regret my decision.

What was an unexpected question that was hard to answer from the JTBC president Sohn Suk-hee in “Fact check”?
You can argue for one’s point only when you know more about them or at least the same amount. Indeed, most of the time, I could not be super knowledgeable but I try to be. My team covers tons of content and we study and discuss it together. The article reflects only half of our knowledge. The other half remains in our head. So, unexpected questions from Mr. Sohn are usually within the boundary of my studies. So I can handle it. Usually, it is the personal questions that I find hard to answer. For example, “Do you wash the dishes well?” or “Why did you not donate blood?” or “Why do you go on vacation after me?”

What do you remember the most while hosting “Fact check”?
I have received this question before. It is hard to answer because I usually handle political issues. I do not try to make one highlighted masterpiece. But, I try to produce newsworthy news keeping our own values. I am satisfied with the fact that we have made it this far without big problems.

Throughout your experiences as a reporter, do you have your own beliefs or values about the job?
Well, I haven’t been a reporter for a long time. So I am not sure if this question is applicable to me. Maybe after a decade, if I have a chance to interview again, then, I might be ready to answer it. I can’t talk big now, but I have learned things. The more information you have, the better the article that is produced. Also, being a reporter means that you are sorry for someone all the time, since our job is to criticize and point out wrong things. So, I try to deal with facts that are thoroughly prepared.

Lastly, tell us one thing that we should keep in mind as student journalists.
We are also struggling with the indifference of viewers and readers. This problem cannot be solved through asking or rushing. It is a boilerplate but the most important thing is that you, student reporters, come up with GOOD content. 
 

By Kim Yu-na, Tribune Reporter

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