This study examined the causal relationships among the issue agendas of three online news media in South Korea during two time periods. The issue agendas of the two online newspapers at Time 1 influenced the issue agendas of the online wire service at Time 2. The online wire service did not influence the issue agendas of the two newspapers during the same time periods. The leading online newspaper influenced the issue agendas of both the secondary online newspaper and the online wire service. The findings extend intermedia agenda-setting studies to the online environment.
Theoretical and practical implications of agenda-setting research have grown since the birth of online news media. Theoretical questions include whether intermedia agenda-setting theory is applicable to the relationship of issue agendas among online news media. If wire services continue to influence online newspapers, the online news market will be a profitable, alternative outlet to wire services. This additional news market is a major reason why many newspapers invest in online news sites.1
In this sense, the years 1995 and 1998 set the stage for the Internet boom in South Korea's media industry. In 1995, the Chosun Ilbo and the JoongAng Ilbo, two major Korean newspapers, developed their Web sites, and, on 19 November 1998, a South Korean wire service named Yonhap News Agency launched its news site. This online world has rapidly expanded in South Korea. According to the 2003 annual report by the Ministry of Information and Communication in South Korea,2 the broadband penetration rates reached about 70% of the total 11.1 million households.
These Korean news media provide an opportunity to examine intermedia agenda-setting effects in the online news environment. When online wire services upload top stories on a real-time basis, how do online newspapers respond to those stories? Conversely, when online newspapers break stories first, how do online wire services respond to them? Prior intermedia agenda-setting research has neglected these theoretical and practical implications of the relationships among online news media. To this end, a time series analysis is useful ecause it illustrates a process of the directional influence among news media.3
Therefore, this study attempts to explore the directional influence between an online wire service and online newspapers during two different time periods. Data originate from online news stories of the Yonhap News Agency and of two major Korean online newspapers.
Big Three Online Media
According to press release data,4 the Yonhap News Agency is a Korean national wire service that has provided three types of news and information-national news, economic information, and photograph/graphic information-since its advent on 4 January 1989. The Yonhap News Agency has since dominated the news service market in South Korea. Domestic news media rely on these three types of news information for their news production. The wire service also provides English editions to about fifty foreign news agencies, fifty-three South Korean foreign embassies, and major international organizations. Currently, the wire service produces more than 1,000 daily news stories in Korean and more than fifty daily news stories in English. Its bilingual news service also began on 4 January 1989. At the end of 1998, it launched its news site (), from which the general public and online newspapers access daily news stories.
According to their Web sites,5 the Chosun Ilbo and the JoongAng Ilbo, two major newspapers in South Korea, took the initiative in developing news sites. In October 1995, the Chosun Ilbo established the DigitalChosun (), an affiliated company providing news on its Web site (), and in the same year, the JoongAng Ilbo set out to release news through its news site, Joins.com (). Like the Yonhap News Agency, the two newspapers post English editions on their Web sites. …