This year is the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Chonnam Tribune, first published on July 15, 1968 as the third English campus newspaper published in Korean universities. This article takes time to think about the current role of English university media. – Ed.
In 2018, the Chonnam Tribune, the only official English language magazine of Chonnam National University (CNU), is turning 50. The first publication of the campus media was one of the initial histories of the nation’s college English newspaper as it was only the third nationwide. Starting with a six-page tabloid newspaper format, it has been contributing to CNU and Gwangju as a media of communication between Koreans and international residents in the region and between Koreans and foreigners abroad.
However, its 50th anniversary seems to be different from any other milestone through which it has been. It is being said that many changes in society are followed by different expectations we have as English campus magazines. To celebrate its 50th birthday, we have time to discover new expectations for English campus media and how to deal with it in this article.
Defining Target Audiences
There is a drastic change in the distribution of nationalities of the students at CNU. According to the university, there were 504 international students enrolled in degree-seeking programs last year. Considering that there were only 296 international students in 2015, it is a huge change. Because of the change, the Chonnam Tribune has been struggling with defining its target audience. Professor Kim Bong-joong (Dept. of History) who was a student reporter for the Chonnam Tribune in his college years from 1980 to 1982 remembers it back in those days. “When I was in college, the Chonnam Tribune was mostly used as an English learning material. It was widely read by students because of its uniqueness as an English newspaper,” he said.
However, with the increased number of international students on campus, finding its new position as a college English magazine became essential. From the interview with The Chungbuk Times (CBT), the English magazine of Chungbuk National University, we could find that this is not the only problem for the Chonnam Tribune. “It is not easy for Korean students to read our magazine because it’s written in English. However, if we define our target audience as international students, we won’t be read widely because of the limited number of international students,” they said.
To solve this problem, Professor Kim Bong-joong said, “As an English magazine, the Chonnam Tribune needs to make sure that international students are not isolated in the community. It should contain information needed for international students.” For the last couple of years, we have been trying to enlarge the pages involving international students. “The Chonnam Tribune connects international students to CNU. Not only does it provide important information to international students, but it also allows CNU to know international students’ thoughts,” said Im Hyeong-yun (Senior, Dept. of Economics), a member of The Chonnam Tribune Assessment Committee (CTAC). In the change of the audience group, such an effort to meet the new needs of readers are necessary for campus English magazines in Korea.
|▲ The brief history of the Chonnam Tribune
Communication Is Always the Key
The most important factor to keep up with the needs of the audience is to communicate with them. Along with the development of social media and networking technology, broader options are given to English magazines to choose from as a communication channel on campus. As an example, CBT is actively using SNS. “We try to involve readers in the publication as much as possible. We hold a public contest to select the cover photo of the paper, and use ‘Kakaotalk Plus Friend’ for students to participate in events related to articles,” said CBT.
The Chonnam Tribune is making efforts to listen to the audience and reflect their opinions to the magazine publication. It is holding meetings with CTAC regularly and operating its Facebook site and website to communicate with the audience. “One of the best things about the Chonnam Tribune is that it never stops in its traditional magazine format. It keeps trying to listen to the readers’ feedback and find better ways to go,” said Im Hyeong-yun.
Back to the Basics
There is no doubt that all the things mentioned above are important to make a better university English magazine. There are, however, fundamental duties and responsibilities expected of them. One of our readers, Kim Gyu-ri (Junior, Dept. of English Language and Literature) suggested going back to the basics and seeing how the media is dealing with those responsibilities. “I understand that there are new problems that English magazines are facing. Nevertheless, I suggest looking back and seeing if they are doing well with what they were made for: to represent students’ voices. CBT also mentioned basic roles. “Regardless of the language we are publishing in, we should make sure that a college magazine is well functioning as an outlet for college students to make their voices heard from an objective and logical point of view.” They also added, “Especially for English magazines, we should take a role to give a voice for the students to be heard by readers abroad. As we could see from the movie ”Taxi Driver”, we can convey foreigners’ opinions precisely to them if we write in English.”
As the roles of university English magazines are becoming more and more important in the globalized campuses, all English magazines should keep their eyes on the readers by actively communicating with them. In addition, we should not underestimate what we are standing for and double check our foundation stone.
Brief History of Chonnam Tribune
The Chonnam Tribune was first published on July 15 as the nation’s third college English newspaper in order to exchange information about academic activities with universities abroad.
The Chonnam Tribune was changed to a monthly newspaper in an enlarged size. The cover article of June 1977 had a unique title in Korean, “ViVian is Beautiful (Vivianneun Yeppoyo).”
The Chonnam Tribune was changed to a black-and-white quarterly magazine in a 36 page format from May 1995. From 2000, it opened its website to give readers unlimited access to its contents and to receive fast feedback.
The Chonnam Tribune started to recruit guest reporters and overseas correspondents among international and Korean students for enhancing the global content of the magazine. In 2006, the magazine was published in all-color that made it vibrant.
The Chonnam Tribune changed its publication cycle to a biweekly newspaper to respond to the changing media environment and readers and intensified its online activities.
The Chonnam Tribune was converted into a monthly newspaper to improve accessibility for its readers by renewing its website and opened its SNS accounts.
The Chonnam Tribune was modified into a quarterly magazine in a 28 page format from March 2014.
The Chonnam Tribune will celebrate its 50th anniversary on July 15.
By Lee So-yi, Guest Reporter