As time changes, some journalists have consistently argued that the university press is in danger. However, CBT has published newspapers in this situation and is ready to celebrate its 50th anniversary on Dec. 20, 2023. Behind CBT’s 50 years of service as a university press lies the hidden efforts of those involved.
Introduction of CBT
On Dec. 20, 1973, Dept. of English Education in CBNU first published “The Chungbuk Times” as an English-language promotional magazine. Since 2000, it has been published regularly in the form of a newspaper with the ambition to communicate with the world. CBT is divided into three departments: University (Campus 1, Campus 2, and Campus People), Society (Feature, Society, and Global), and Culture (Experience, Culture, and Interview).
Depending on the situation, the subject of some articles can be changed fluidly internally. Currently, CBT consists of the director, editor-in-chief, administrative staff, foreign professor, editorial reporters and news reporters. The Chungbuk Times, an English-language newspaper containing the efforts of officials, publishes 3000 copies per semester six times a year.
CBT Amid University Press Crisis
According to Democracy and Human Rights, an academic journal published by The May 18 Institute Chonnam National University in 2022, despite the press suppression by the military government in the 1980s, college students constantly reported the truth of The May 18 Gwangju Democratic Uprising. In the 1970s and 1980s, university press served as a stepping stone to achieving democratization, but as democratization took root in the 1990s, the influence of university press became insignificant and CBT could not ignore this crisis. What kind of general problems are CBT and other university press facing?
First, the labor shortage. According to The Kyeongin Ilbo, Gachon News (Gachon University Newspaper) hired 10 apprenticeship reporters in March 2022, but within a month, more than half left the newspaper. Another problem is that the application for apprenticeship reporters decreased due to difficulties in concentrating on academic and external activities, leading to many students giving up their journalism activities. This problem of labor shortage quickly adds to the burden on the remaining members. Therefore, they are busy drawing results, which reduces the time and effort spent on coverage, which can cause other problems such as lack of reliability of information and indifference to any news related to the university. CBT also operates with a slightly smaller number of reporters, but according to CBT editor-in-chief Park Su-min, “There were more than 20 applicants in the 42nd term, but for the 46th term the number of applicants dropped to 7.”
Second, the demand for printed newspapers has decreased. According to a 2021 Korea Media Panel survey conducted by the Institute for Information and Communication Policy, 93.6% of readers’ newspaper subscriptions were portal sites and 2.7% were traditional newspaper subscriptions. As the times change, people become accustomed to online activities and have diversified channels for access to news such as social media, real-time news, and online articles. Seok Yeon-ji, deputy editor-in-chief of CBT, also expressed regret, saying, “In addition, there are definitely many Korean students in CBNU who are not particularly keen on finding and reading an English newspaper.”
Ph.D. Lee Dong-hee, a managing editor, added “The lack of budget, confusion of reporters’ sense of purpose, and poor press facilities can be seen as problems not only in the general university press but also in CBT.”
CBT’s Effort to Overcome Crisis
First, an online communication channel with readers was established to cope with the decrease in demand for traditional newspapers. After publishing newspaper, reporters make card news and post it on CBT’s official Instagram and the on-campus anonymous online community “Everytime.” For student readers who are not familiar with newspapers, the card news is organized into representative photos and article summaries to encourage them to find articles on topics of interest. In order to provide accurate information on the integrity of the recent heated integration issue between CBNU and Korea National University of Transportation, CBT tried to satisfy students’ interests by covering these topics: summary of the contents of the questions and answers of the glocal briefing session, interview with the president of CBNU, the schedule of the Glocal University 30 business briefing session, and the results of the glocal project. Furthermore, CBT collected questions related to the Global University 30 briefing session on Google form instead of the president on behalf of students who could not attend the briefing session during their vacation.
Second, CBT strives to make efficient use of human resources. A total of 11 reporters are usually in charge of about eight pages. Apprentice reporters work as sub-reporters and not only help main reporters, but also acquire the methods for planning and publishing articles in the process. In addition, student reporters spend their time efficiently writing good articles by creating a conducive environment for them rather than focusing only on press activities. Usually, planning meetings and feedback are conducted through ZOOM. Moreover, efforts are made to prevent overwork such as only editing two days a month during the semester, setting one day as a proofreading date, and working all night.
Third, communication among officials for the publication of articles is smooth. After writing the plan, a planning meeting for each department and a general planning meeting will be held to receive feedback from other reporters and to proceed with the final revision. The articles are written in Korean first, and the editor and deputy editor are entrusted with the first inspection. Ph.D. Lee will be in charge of the final inspection. At this time, they work together to publish reliable articles by communicating through online chat and leaving specific opinions. English typographical errors are checked face-to-face, and CBT reporters read other reporters’ articles and receive feedback from many perspectives. In addition, the editor and deputy editor create Google forms to actively reflect reporters’ opinions in CBT’s operation.
Despite the university press crisis, CBT will be able to successfully celebrate its 50th anniversary thanks to the efforts of staff and reporters. However, in order to remain as an effective press organization of CBNU for a longer and brighter future from the current 50th anniversary, it will have to proactively address the remaining problems.
By Seo Ah-hyun