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.