OhMyNews Redefines Journalism

Dan Gillmor writes on the South Korean website and newspaper that has citizens as its reporters:

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.

The idea isn’t entirely new. News organizations have long used stringers, who contribute freelance articles.

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.

The real-people nature of the contributors lends further appeal to the site. The citizen-reporters do cover politics, economy, culture, arts and science — the usual subjects you’ll find in newspapers — but they tend to focus more on personally oriented issues like education, job conditions and the environment.

The easy coexistence of the amateurs and professionals will, soon enough, seem natural. Publications like OhmyNews will pop up everywhere, because they make sense, combining the best of old and new journalistic forms.

Wired News has more:

in South Korea, the publishing instinct is directed toward a big, collaborative online newspaper that has emerged as one of the country’s most influential media outlets.

OhmyNews is a unique experiment in “citizen journalism”: Anyone who registers with the site can become a paid reporter.

“With OhmyNews, we wanted to say goodbye to 20th-century journalism where people only saw things through the eyes of the mainstream, conservative media,” said editor and founder, Oh Yeon-ho. “Our main concept is every citizen can be a reporter. We put everything out there and people judge the truth for themselves.”

Launched three years ago, OhmyNews has grown from a staff of four to more than 40 editors and reporters who publish about 200 stories a day. The vast majority of the news, however, is written by more than 26,000 registered citizen journalists, who come from all walks of life, from chambermaids to professional writers.

The site attracts an estimated 2 million daily readers, and has been widely credited with helping to elect South Korea’s new progressive president, Roh Moo-hyun. The Guardian newspaper called OhmyNews “arguably the world’s most domestically powerful news site.”

This should be something that may be worth trying out in India.


Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.