Three years ago, a crew of four people quietly launched the South Korean “citizen journalism” Web site OhmyNews. Since then, its staff has grown to 53, and the number of “citizen reporters” writing for the site has grown from 700 to about 26,700, with about 1 million readers each day. Its experiment with grassroots-led journalism has transformed Korean politics. (1)
OhnyNews apears in a Korean and an English version.
OhmyNews is transforming the 20th century’s journalism-as-lecture model, where organizations tell the audience what the news is and the audience either buys it or doesn’t, into something vastly more bottom-up, interactive and democratic.
The site posts about 70 percent of the roughly 200 items submitted each day, after staff editors look at the stories. Postings work on a hierarchy corresponding to their place on the page; the lower the headline appears, the less important or interesting the editors consider it. The higher and more newsworthy the story, the more the freelance contributor gets paid.
What’s so different here is that anyone can sign up, and it’s not difficult to get published. The Web means space for news is essentially unlimited, and OhmyNews welcomes contributions from just about anyone.(2)
Oh Yeon-Ho president and founder of OhmyNews, says his site changes the definition of journalism, of what a news story is and what a reporter is. In an interview with Japan Media review associate editor Yeon-Jung Yu he talks about the reason to start the site:
“In Korea, readers’ dissatisfaction and distrust with the conventional press had considerably increased. Citizens’ desire to express themselves greatly increased. Thus, on the one hand, discontent with the conventional press, on the other hand, citizens desire to talk about themselves. These two things were joined together.”(3)