Jae-Kyoung Lee

Ewha Womans University

The Inverted-pyramid Writing Style and the News-centered Page Design: Modernizing Endeavors in Colonial Newspaper Journalism

This essay is an attempt to re-illuminate some of the neglected traces of modernizing endeavors by reporters and editors during colonial times, more specifically, the period between 1920 and 1940. The process of journalistic modernization was hampered by a number of structural constraints, including the presence of constant police surveillance, routine censorship of editorial contents, and the intermittent suspension of publication. However, despite these obstacles, various types of evidence presented in this essay strongly suggest that the fundamental foundation of journalistic modernity was established during this period. In other words, the 1920s and the 1930s are not to be completely written off as simply a part of a dark period of Japanese cultural assimilation. More than anything else, it was during this period that the fact-centered, inverted-pyramid writing style emerged as the standard mode of news writing by Korean newspapers. It was also during this period that the basic conception of the newspaper, or more broadly, journalism, began to transform in Korean society from an organ of public persuasion to primarily a medium for delivering factual news. The concomitant rise of trade associations and journals worked as critical facilitators for gradually institutionalizing journalistic professionalism.