SNS vs. Media During Crisis Communication

Angry Korean Citizens from the Korean Ferry Sink Decide to Abandon Media

On Wednesday April 16, Korean media broadcasted the news of Korean ferry sinking. The ferry was heading form Jindo to Jeju Island holding 476 passengers. As the current situation goes, 25 passengers died, and 135 passengers were rescued leaving more than 300 passengers unknown. While the rescue plan continues til now, the media is being criticized for its inconsistency and reliability of the news.

Multiple Korean media outlets broadcasted news in real time, but information varied extremely making the public confused. They tried to broadcast real time news of the rescue plan process by interviewing victims’ family members. However, it faced controversy when it reported about providing air compression to the boat because it changed its news that it was not true after few hours. The public had to panic between the truth and the media, and were soon angered with how media handled the crisis.

It was not only the media that lost its reliability in the Korean ferry sinking crisis. The Ministry of Security and Public Administration also took back words that they said multiple times. It first announced that 386 passengers were saved right after the incident occurred, but it changed the number of survivors to 164 within the hour explaining there was a miscalculation. The government itself were unsure of what to do, which is why the media was also unsure of the claims they gave out to the public.

The angered public then changed its direction to trust social media whom they thought was more reliable. However, it caused more chaos to the situation. People started uploading posts, videos, and photos on their social network claiming they were either at the scene or the family members of the people who were involved in the rescue plan. Some social information were true, but some were found to be false. The weakness of social media where sources’ reliability came to play. One person uploaded a fake tweet about how most of the victims of the incident were dead already, and the government were just afraid to get the bodies out of the sinking boat. The information was found to be untrue, but people became more unstable of whom they should rely for the updates of the news.

Families of the victims are devastated and lost of who they should rely and depend on. They are still waiting for their children and family members to be safe inside of the sinking boat. There are many concerns surrounding the current issue as to how the government is controlling media outlets to prevent certain information getting known to the public, and how family members will act out of an overly emotional status. Despite all the controversies and concerns, I hope the media does not stir up the public with anymore confusion, and survivors would get rescued as soon as possible. It is important to focus on the issue first, and come up with a solution rather than having inner conflicts. More, the media should stop harassing families and victims of the incident through interviews. Approaching families to get more media attention compared other media companies is just against the code of journalism ethics.


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