Lucky Thirteen

Lucky you, lucky me: it’s twenty-thirteen.  Before anyone has a chance to break a rashly-made New Year’s resolution, let’s take a quick(?) look at one of the few things that all of us can count on in the 21st Century … the annual New Year’s Day message from the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea.  Brought to you for the very first time by Korea’s version of Chris Christie:  the kinder, gentler, sensitive Kim Jong-un.

20121215_KJU

This year, Lunghu is going with quantity before quality when reviewing Western media coverage of the DPRK annual message.  Why?  Because past experience has shown that there generally isn’t a whole lot of quality reporting on this topic.  Sometimes there isn’t much quantity either, but this year the message was the medium –not just a newspaper editorial, but an actual TV and radio broadcast of the Luminous Comrade’s very own voice.  Even so, for most journalists who drew the short straw and were forced to file a story on New Year’s Day, it was pretty much the same-old/ same-old.

Here’s a synopsis of coverage from Agence France Presse, BBC News, Yonhap News Service, Associated Press, Bloomberg News, New York Times, Washington Post, and  … al Jazeera.  Compare and contrast.

N. Korea Leader Calls for Easing of Tensions with S. Korea
Agence France Presse

7 paragraphs

(14%) 1 summary (lead) paragraph [S]
(50%) 3.5 paragraphs quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK editorial [E]
(36%) 2.5 context/background paragraphs [B]
(1 paragraph mentioning Park Geun-hye)

here’s the semantic structure of the story:
S-E-E-B-B-B/E-E

3 DPRK message themes cited (in order of appearance):

  • achieving Korean reunification
  • remove confrontation between fellow countrymen that leads to war
  • build an economic giant in DPRK

North Korea Picks Stronger Economy, South Ties as Top 2013 Tasks
Bloomberg

12 paragraphs

(8%)  1 summary (lead) paragraph [S]
(16%) 2 paragraphs quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK editorial [E]
(50%) 6 context/background paragraphs [B]
(25%) 3 paragraphs of explanatory analysis [A]
(1 paragraph mentioning Park Geun-hye)

here’s the semantic structure of the story:
S-E-B-A-A
B-E-B-B-A
B-B

4  DPRK message themes cited (in order of appearance):

  • build an economic giant in DPRK
  • “reunification of the country is the greatest national task that brooks no further delay.”
  • “develop coal-mining, electric power, metallurgical industries and rail transport”
  • “success of economic construction will be gauged by betterment of people’s living standards”

Analyst(s) quoted:

  • Cheong Seong Chang, senior research fellow at the Sejong Institute
  • Unnamed analyst, who provided over-simplified economic rationale for China’s support of DPRK.

N Korea’s Kim Wants Better Living Standards, Arms
Associated Press

20 paragraphs

(5%)  1 summary (lead) paragraph [S]
(20%) 4 paragraphs quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK editorial [E]
(55%) 11 context/background [B]
(20%) 4 paragraphs of explanatory analysis [A]
(1 paragraph mentioning Park Geun-hye)

here’s the semantic structure of the story:
S-B-B-B-E-E
B-B-E-E-B-A-A
B-B-A-A-B-B-B

3 DPRK message themes cited (in order of appearance):

  • “The industrial revolution in the new century is … a scientific and technological revolution”
  • build an economic giant in DPRK
  • “The defense industry sector should develop sophisticated military hardware in larger numbers”

Analysts quoted:
Koh Yu-hwan, professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University
John Delury, an analyst at Yonsei University

North Korean Leader Reaches out to S Korea
al Jazeera

13(!) paragraphs

(8%)  1 summary (lead) paragraph [S]
(15%) 2 paragraphs quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK editorial [E]
(69%) 9 context/background [B]
(8%)  1 paragraph of semi-editorial commentary [C]
(2 paragraphs mentioning Park Geun-hye)

here’s the semantic structure of the story:
S-B-B-B-E-E
B-B-B-B-B-B-C

2 DPRK message themes cited (in order of appearance):

  • achieving Korean reunification
  • remove confrontation between fellow countrymen that leads to war

N0rth Korean Leader Makes Overture to South
New York Times

21 paragraphs

(5%)  1 summary (lead) paragraph [S]
(19%) 4 paragraphs quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK editorial [E]
(14%) 67 context/background [B]
(9%) 2 paragraphs of explanatory analysis [A]
(33%) 7! paragraphs discussing Park Geun-hye [P]

here’s the semantic structure of the story:
S-B-B-A-A-E-E-B
E-B-E-B-B-B-P-P-P
P-P-P-P

7 DPRK message themes cited (in order of appearance):

  • improving living standards
  • rejuvenating agriculture and light industries
  • “improve economic leadership and management”
  • development of more advanced weapons
  • “expand and improve upon friendly and cooperative relationships with all countries friendly to us”
  • “end the situation of confrontation between North and South”
  • “honor and implement North-South joint declarations”

Analysts quoted:
none — analysis limited to Kim’s media style is attributed to unnamed “outside analysts.”

In a calculated insult to the DPRK, the NYT website gave more prominent placement to a lifestyle story about the trendy Gangnam district of Seoul.  You know, that horse dance thing.  The Grey Lady also set its online-headline for the Kim Jong-un story using the “Zero” character instead of the capital “O” character.  Take a close look at the screen shot.  The Propaganda Model of journalism needs no finer exemplar.

38 N0rth

Kim Jong-un Calls for Building Economic Power, Resolving Tension with South
Yonhap News Service

20 paragraphs

(5%)  1 summary (lead) paragraph [S]
(35%) 7 paragraphs quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK editorial [E]
(5%)  2 context/background paragraphs [B]
(10%) 1 paragraph of explanatory analysis [A]
(5%)  2 paragraphs of reaction/ commentary [C]
(35%) 7 paragraphs covering KJU’s concert attendance [M]
(0!  paragraphs mentioning Park Geun-hye)

here’s the semantic structure of the story:
S-B-E-E-E-E-E-E-E
B-B-A-C-C
M-M-M-M-M-M-M

7 DPRK message themes cited (in order of appearance):

  • “launch a dynamic struggle to carry out to the letter the June 5 Joint Declaration and the October 4 Declaration”
  • prioritize “the great national cause of reunifying the country”
  • “develop relations of friendship and cooperation with nations that are friendly to our country”
  • build an economic giant in DPRK
  • rejuvenate agriculture and light industries
  • stabilize and improve living standards
  • “fully demonstrate the high level of space science and technology, and overall power of Juche Korea”

Analysts quoted:
none — unnamed analysts comment on KJU’s efforts to emulate his grandfather by using a radio broadcast.

20130101_KJU

In New Year’s Speech, N. Korea’s Kim Says He Wants Peace with South
Washington Post

10 paragraphs

(10%) 1 summary (lead) paragraph [S]
(35%) 3.5 paragraphs quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK editorial [E]
(45%) 2.5 context/background [B]
(10%)  1 paragraph of reaction/ commentary [C]
(2 paragraphs mentioning Park Geun-hye)

here’s the semantic structure of the story:
S-B-E-B-B-B
E-E/B-E-C

3 DPRK message themes cited (in order of appearance):

  • implement North-South joint declarations
  • economic improvement
  • build an economic giant in DPRK

North Korea’s Kim Jong-un Makes Rare New Year Speech
BBC News

13(!) paragraphs

(7%)  1 summary (lead) paragraph [S]
(31%) 4 paragraphs quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK editorial [E]
(55%) 1 context/background paragraphs [B]
(7%)  1 paragraph coveringKJU’s concert attendance [M]
(1 paragraph mentioning Park Geun-hye)

here’s the semantic structure of the story:
S-E-B-B-B
E-E-E-B-B-B
M

4 DPRK message themes cited (in order of appearance):

  • improve the economy
  • remove confrontation between fellow countrymen that leads to war
  • build an economic giant in DPRK
  • “Only when a nation builds up its military might in every way can it develop into a thriving country.”

And the winner is … Yonhap News Service, for the third consecutive year.  That’s a wrap!

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