Wednesday, February 28, 2007

OhmyNews: news "that's fit to share with you"

Now in its 7th year of operation, OhmyNews, a Korean online newspaper, has become a fast growing online participatory journalism site. It was launched on February 22, 2000 by Mr. Oh Yeon-ho, founder and CEO, as a place where citizens of a community can report on news for the citizens. According to Yeon-ho every citizen is a reporter and “only those citizen reporters who are passionately committed to social change and reporting” make the online newspaper(s) possible. In 2005, OhmyNews International was formed, an online newspaper for world news in English also written by citizen journalists.

Since starting in 2000 and harvesting around 727 reporters, OhmyNews now has approximately 50,000 citizen journalists from all over the world. These reporters are able to submit their stories on the website by opening a citizen reporter account free of charge. There they can also keep track of their readers, their reactions, and the amount of money they have earned. After the submission of their stories, OhmyNews editors read, edit, and check facts. They also give feedback to the reporters to help them improve their reporting and writing skills. The articles that don't make it unto the main page of the site, it is still in the database and is viewable to all as a "Saengnamu" article.

In an article posted on February 26, Yeon-ho lists 10 preconditions for the value of user-generated content. It focused on four main points which are; credibility, responsibility, influence, and sustainability. “More information does not mean better information. By the same token, more participation does not automatically ensure a better society for us. Valuable information and valuable participation are needed,” Yeon-ho said.

Masimba Biriwasha, a citizen journalist for OhmyNews puts it best. "As a citizen journalist, I am not a mere conveyer of information. I am more that just a cog in the wheel of information. I am a citizen first, with a sincere desire to see freedom, fairness and justice prevail."

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