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Every citizen is a reporter - the story of OhmyNews

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Before the brouhaha over BrooWaha there was OhmyNews. Based in South Korea, it is the world's first and largest citizen journalist online newspaper.

Founded seven years ago by Oh Yeon-ho, OhmyNews has grown into an influential media outlet not only on the Korean peninsula but on the global stage as well. Three years ago Yeon-ho and his dedicated staff launched an English language version, OhmyNews International, and over 40,000 citizen reporters now contribute to both the English and Korean language sites.

With major news outlets such as MSNBC.com posting photos, videos and text from citizen reporters and citizen journalism sites such as BrooWaha sparking heated debate in academic circles and editorial pages of major newspapers, OhmyNews has seemingly charted a steady course for itself since it began in 2000 and is now poised to take advantage of the newfound interest in citizen journalism.

While most of the articles are written by citizen reporters, the top news on the site is still reserved for a 55-person staff of professional journalists and there are more editors who review as many as 200 articles submitted daily by people from around the world. Around 30% of the articles are rejected for various reasons ranging from quality to content. The site receives around 2 million page views a day.

OhmyNews is widely credited with influencing South Korea's election of President Roh Moo-hyun. The reformer granted his first post-election interview to OhmyNews, passing over traditional news outlets such as The Korea Herald. It was a major coup for OhmyNews and the entire citizen journalism movement.

Yeon-ho continues to take risks, some more successful than others. Last year OhmyNews and Japanese firm Softbank signed an $11 million investment deal to launch OhmyNews Japan. However, some of the articles were a source of controversy and the citizen journalist aspect of the site was scrapped.

The company also posted a loss in profits last year but aims to turn that around in 2007 with OhmyNews 2.0, a relaunch of the site that will empower citizen journalists to take more of an editorial role in the website including the ability to create a "personal edition" of the day's news.

Supporters of OhmyNews say that the newspaper is living proof that citizen journalism has the potential to influence events on a regional, national and even global scale. Seven years in and OhmyNews continues to lead the way for the ever-growing ranks of citizen reporters.



About the Writer

Josh Marks is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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3 comments on Every citizen is a reporter - the story of OhmyNews

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By Steven Lane on April 10, 2007 at 12:59 pm
I just visited OhmyNews International. What a great site, really diversified, it is going my favorite list. Thanks Josh
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By Ariel on April 10, 2007 at 03:18 pm
What's interesting about OhMyNews is that they require their users to provide them with proofs of identification, phone number, and addresses. It's a good way to ensure that only serious people will sign up and participate and consequently receive quality content. They also have a strong editorial control, very similar to a regular newspaper. They fact check the articles, edit them, etc. This is obviously great, but I have a hard time seeing how this can scale to a growing number of contributors. I guess that's where their new "Web 2.0" version will come into play.
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By Josh Marks on April 10, 2007 at 06:38 pm
One addendum to the article. In the headline it says "every citizen is a reporter." I didn't explain in the article the reason I chose this headline -- it is the OhmyNews motto.
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