TikTok is a window to convey the voices of underprivileged teenagers… “You have to get into the media.”

When I asked if ‘TikTok journalism’ was possible, the answer came beyond ‘yes’ and ‘should’. It means that there is a need for someone to convey the voices of teenagers who are marginalized in society and to correct the false information overflowing on TikTok. Some pointed out that “if you don’t jump in now, ‘Cyber ​​Lexa’ can dominate like YouTube.”The eDaily TikTok channel ‘Highness’ is one of the leaders in the media short form world. They are one of the few teams that focus more on TikTok than YouTube. Highness posted a video from January of last year, when TikTok was less interested. It reached 10,000 subscribers within a year of its opening, and in March, it surged 2.5 times to 25,000 subscribers. While the news media’s TikTok subscriber trend has been relatively constant this year, Highnity shows a clear increase. It currently has about 28,000 subscribers.

‘Highness’ does not upload simple gossip videos, but focuses on delivering necessary information to teenagers. ‘Bus fare increase’, ‘measures to eradicate school violence’, etc. It does not miss social issues related to teenagers such as ‘youth cigarettes’ and ‘room cafe sex’. How to survive in TikTok, where stimulating short forms are rampant? On the 28th of last month, the Highness team, who met at the E-Daily office building in Jung-gu, Seoul, gave a positive view of the platform, saying that TikTok is more productive than Naver and YouTube.

“I don’t need a childish tone… Directing the feeling of the scene behind the curtain in the newsroom”- There are few media channels that specialize in short form. How did ‘Hinity’ start?

“At the company level, there was a voice saying that we should target the younger generation, and since the MZ generation was too broad, we kept reducing our target to generation Z and teenagers, and then we paid attention to TikTok. Now, portals are also doing short form, but at that time there was less interest than now. We is a small number of people, so I thought we should take on the challenge at a time like this. In reality, we have many interns. It is also the result of thinking about ways to utilize the emotions of the younger generation. (Reporter Sangmin Kwon)

– It is not easy to choose ‘TikTok’ even if it targets teenagers.

“Usually, I have a strong opinion that I should do a portal or YouTube. All media companies are similar. This is because TikTok has a relatively poor revenue model. Compared to other platforms, there is a strong perception that TikTok is out of the system. TikTok is easy to bet on. It is true that newsrooms focus on portals such as Naver, but I think at least the new media team should boldly break away from existing platforms.” (Reporter Sangmin Kwon)

“TikTok does not require a lot of editing work compared to YouTube. The length of the video is short and it does not require spectacular effects like YouTube. It seems that the aspect that depends on is big.” (Kyungmin Lee Intern)

– You are not originally a broadcast journalist. I wonder what they pay attention to when filming TikTok content.

“I’m not shy about standing in front of the camera. I also have experience in filming. In fact, at first, I thought ‘TikTok’, so I dressed brightly and spoke like a child. But the reporter said, ‘Let’s do it professionally.’ Wearing a shirt and wearing an employee ID while filming a video.” (Lee Kyung-min, intern)

“When you say TikTok, you tend to use a childish tone. I was like that at first too. It was like mixing ‘feeding food’ or putting on sloppy BGM . “If you look at advertisements for fashion brands that students like, they express the tone and style of adults in a sophisticated way. Rather, they look down on them if they look childish. It’s better to look like a professional reporter. But apart from this, I try to look natural.” (Reporter Sangmin

Kwon) – I don’t think it will be easy to show the image of a ‘professional reporter’ while being ‘raw’.

“This feels a bit like a trade secret, but I deliberately get it wrong while filming the video. I grab the paper and say, ‘This is what I announced this afternoon. N Newsroom people have to pass by. Behind a certain curtain in the newsroom, show realism and direct ‘I’m communicating with you’.” (Reporter Kwon Sang-min)

– Among the media, TikTok belongs to the axis with the most followers. Do people recognize you when you go out to shoot content?

“When we go out for an interview, we recognize them by saying, ‘Ah, TikTok Highness.’ What’s interesting is that we don’t know what ‘eDaily’ is, but what we know as ‘Highness.’ doesn’t differentiate between media outlets very well. I don’t feel the need to stick to them.” (Reporter Kwon Sang-min)

‘Room Cafe’, ‘Genealogy.com’… Even if teenagers use it, there are no teenagers in the article- Highness recently started YouTube. If you compare YouTube and TikTok.

“YouTube doesn’t really feel like communicating with readers. TikTok, on the other hand, makes it easy to communicate with comments and DMs (direct messages). What’s surprising here is that TikTok’s communication is much more productive. Teenagers have much better quality comments and DMs . It’s like, ‘I always wanted to talk about this, but I couldn’t’.” (Reporter Sangmin Kwon)

“There was a time when I was covering youth smoking. I went to several convenience stores in Gangnam and asked how teenagers buy cigarettes these days, but it was not easy to hear the answer. At that time, I posted a video on TikTok. When I asked to know if I was buying it, there was a really explosive response. And a very vivid answer came. If I posted the same video on YouTube, this kind of reaction would have happened. Since it is TikTok, students find more and reply to it. There are other items as reported by students. They are often found.” (Kyungmin Lee Intern)

– There is a prejudice that TikTok is shallow. It’s surprising that more productive discussions emerge.

“Wherever you go, you talk about room cafe reports a lot as an example. Many media outlets stimulatingly reported that ‘teenagers have sex at room cafes’. Of course, it is wrong to have sex at room cafes. It was said that if cafes are blocked, students go to more shady places.” This is the result of hearing from students a lot. On TikTok, students explained, “If you block room cafes, you go to coin karaoke rooms or comic cafes.” Through general reports, room cafes Sexual intercourse itself can be prevented. But what happens next? The established media did not capture the voices of students very well. Immediately after the report on Room Cafe, which contained the voices of students, the number of followers more than doubled.” (Reporter Kwon Sang-min)

– It’s definitely not easy to hear the voices of teenagers in the media. I also feel that the youth are marginalized.

“‘Geokbo.com’, a site that provides past school records problems, has become a hot topic. Most of the media criticized Jokbo.com from the perspective of teachers’ copyright issues and whether it is right to buy and sell problems. However, students’ thoughts is different. Without Jokbo.com, students can only obtain previous records from specific academies. This is because they are more dependent on private tutoring, which creates a gap. It is easy for established media to convey only the views of Jokbo.com and teachers. Students who actually use Jokbo.com It’s hard to hear your voice.” (Darae Kim Intern)

– In the ‘entry and exit’ culture of the established media, teenagers are structurally not well represented.

“Actually, I saw the media report and of course thought that Jokbo.com was at fault. But after hearing about the internship, it was different. I thought that someone should fill this gap. It may not be the best way, but even in TikTok, we can embody the voices of teenagers. Yes. I believe so.” (Reporter Kwon Sang-min)

“Personally, I just got out of my teens. The news I actually see and the stories of teenagers are really different. But there is no one who can tell me this. While doing TikTok, he said it would be great if we could become that communication channel.” I thought. I want to hear more of the students’ stories in the future. I want to approach them in a friendly way and proceed with ‘Ask me anything’.” (Darae Kim Intern)

A sea of ​​disinformation… ‘TikTok journalism’ is what you have to do- In fact, there are many people who consider TikTok an unsuitable platform for media outlets to jump into. This is because stimulating videos are mainly distributed due to the short length of the video.

“TikTok’s video length is actually 10 minutes. Long form can be implemented in TikTok, too, if desired. It’s my personal opinion, but when a new platform comes out, media outlets seem to feel a little distant. While large media outlets are on the rise, small organizations quickly break out. Rather, I think media companies should jump on TikTok.” (Reporter Kwon Sang-min)

– Most media outlets are not serious about TikTok yet. Does that flow have to change?

“Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you don’t need news. If you want to create news for teenagers and 20-somethings, it’s right to be on a platform where those people stay. Media companies should step in here.” (Lee Kyung-min, intern)

” The channel on social media that we really need to be careful of is not the absurd ‘fake news. ‘ If we don’t jump in, ‘cyber lexa’ can dominate like YouTube. The media that can create quality news should jump in.” (Reporter Sangmin Kwon)

– Do you believe that ‘journalism’ can be implemented in TikTok?

“In the first half of this year, there was a big issue on TikTok. When one TikToker became popular by making fun of Vietnamese women’s accent, another TikToker pointed out that it was ‘racism’. It was a big issue that many people were interested in on TikTok. There was no media reporting on it. Would it have been the case if this incident had occurred on Twitter or YouTube? If you go out on the street and ask students something, they actually search for keywords on TikTok. It’s scary to think that TikTok has a lot of exaggerated false information. It is possible to implement journalism within TikTok, and even if it is difficult, someone has to do it.” (Reporter Kwon Sang-min)

– There seems to be a dilemma for the media who create their own TikTok content. Isn’t it true that the more provocative the video is, the more excited it is?

“There is a difference in the number of views depending on the subject matter. Soft subjects such as love and ideal types have a high average interest. ‘Ten Persons’, a corner where you meet and talk to teenagers on the street, always gets a good number of views.” ( PD Lee Kyung-min )

“Even such a corner does not aim at ‘snack culture’ (cultural contents consumed in a short time such as webtoons). The purpose itself is ‘hardening’ of soft news. ’ For example, prices have soared since the war in Ukraine, so I ask, ‘What are the students’ thoughts on price increases?’” (Reporter Kwon Sang-min)

“The goal is to maintain our own profit channel… A strategy to create and visit videos first”

– Among the reasons why media companies do not jump into TikTok is a big problem with revenue. TikTok has short videos, so there is no advertising revenue. ‘Branded content’, which dissolves product advertisements in videos, is one solution.

“We’ve been in touch several times, but we haven’t signed a contract yet. There were advertisements for cosmetics, but we declined because it didn’t fit the context we were doing. It’s not that we don’t want to do branded content. However, I thought that if I received any advertisement for short-term profit, the먹튀검증 image itself would be damaged. There is a bit of a drop-off rate when out of the blue content comes out. These days, we are trying to make a video that fits our concept first and contact advertisers. It’s a strategy to get there first.” (Reporter Kwon Sang-min)

– Do you think it is possible to maintain the channel’s own revenue without company support?

“I think it’s possible and I think I have to do it somehow. Unless you’re an individual creator anyway, there’s a limit to how much you can earn from views. In the end, it’s branded content, and it’s possible if you create quality content with a strong fandom. I will try to contact them. Even if it’s not a lot of money, I think the minimum labor cost should come out.” (Reporter Sang-min Kwon)

“Some are sent to companies, but when youth policies such as the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family and the Ministry of Health and Welfare come out, they make a video. Students often listen to our news by watching our videos rather than news. We are also building a portfolio that delivers information.” (Lee Kyung-min, intern)

– What is the most difficult thing about running a TikTok channel?

“I’m really worried about manpower. It’s run by one reporter and two interns, but in fact, they do more than just interns. I recently started thinking about sustainability. If part of the team leaves or there is a transfer of personnel, this channel will not fade. I’m worried that it will disappear. All new media teams are similar. They have the direction they want to go and the lack of resources compared to that level.” (Reporter Kwon Sang-min)

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