Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 01/2014

The People Behind the Press: Building Social Capital in New Media Ecologies

Steve J. Fox

December 2013

East-West Center


The aim of this article is to introduce an original framework in which new media ecologies can be understood to develop. Specifically, it examines the unique, world-leading online ecology of South Korea, to suggest how new forms of democratic process and social organisation can be emulated elsewhere. The discussion identifies and analyses several policy and cultural factors to distil three encompassing variables that comprise a framework for understanding the Korean situation, and the application of new technologies: structure, ethos and activity. Ultimately, it is a framework that may be used to investigate social organisation mechanisms that may potentiate news media's role in democratic society. This concept of social organisation is constructed around the notion of social capital and theorised as an infrastructure for new news media models. In the outcome, it is argued that news media could themselves become civic socialization mechanisms that encourage a more active and engaged citizenry, reflecting social capital's strong relationship with political participation, and thus a continuing foundational role for journalism in democracy.