Skip to main content
The Web    CNN.com      Powered by
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
SERVICES
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
SEARCH
Web CNN.com
powered by Yahoo!
Technology

Korean bloggers making a difference

From CNN's Kristie Lu Stout

story.newspaper.jpg
Web site "Ohmynews" is giving mainstream media in South Korea a run for their money.
QUICKVOTE
Do you write a Web log?
Yes
No
VIEW RESULTS
ON CNNI TV
Click here  for Spark show times on CNN International.
SPARK
Find out how tech is changing our lives  Click here
YOUR SAY
Send your views to spark@cnn.com or read what others have to say.
YOUR E-MAIL ALERTS
South Korea
Media
Newspaper and Magazines
Spark

SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) -- It's a typical newsroom in downtown Seoul: reporters rush to meet deadlines and editors eye copy for mistakes.

But in this newsroom, some of the stories are being filed from a lingerie shop.

Just outside Seoul, lingerie shopkeeper Lee Eun Wha is preparing for a winter sale, but when there's free time, she hits the keyboard and begins working as a budding "citizen reporter" for Internet media site "Ohmynews."

The Web site is paving the way for a new kind of journalism in South Korea, where every reader can be a reporter and the establishment is being forced to take notice.

One of Lee's most recent stories, about hardships of small business owners, made a difference, she says.

"The public wasn't aware that small business owners were suffering so badly. But after my article went out, people were able to really see that small business owners were having difficulty just making ends meet," says Lee.

Lee has earned $5,000 from her work as a citizen reporter, but she says she is not in it for the money.

"By writing, I've been able to look more closely at my own surroundings and take a more proactive view of things."

"Ohmynews" draws half a million visitors a day -- most are young and male, but nearly all are tech-savvy Koreans out to challenge the elite.

South Korea leads the rest of the world in terms of broadband Internet access, with more than seven out of 10 households having access.

Political observers say "Ohmynews" influenced the election of outsider president Roh Moo-Hyun in February 2003 -- and it was no coincidence that Roh granted his first post-election interview to the site.

Oh Yeon Ho founded "Ohmynews" in February 2000. As CEO, he now manages a team of 50 reporters and editors, and heads a legion of 36,000 "citizen reporters."

"Our slogan is 'every citizen is a reporter.' We've created a new kind of journalism. We call it 21st-century journalism, two-way journalism. So the readers are no longer passive. They are very active and participate to say what they want to say," he told CNN.

About 150 stories are published on the site each day. If a contribution is deemed extra-newsworthy, the editors give it a higher billing and a token $20 fee.

Citizen reporters file stories on subjects ranging from musings on daily life, to political essays and a lot of criticism of South Korea's conservative mainstream media.

Media analyst Yoon Young-Chul, of Yonsei University in Seoul, says "Ohmynews" is also guilty of bias because a lot of its content is not balanced.

"They (citizen reporters) don't want to be objective. They don't pretend to be objective. What's more important for them is to make it clear their viewpoint and (to) advocate to a certain group of people."

Four libel cases have been filed against the site, but its CEO has no apologies. He says the freedom of speech found on "Ohmynews" is what makes it works so well.

"Our citizen reporters' reporting may seem very unprofessional. But that's the merit of 'Ohmynews' citizen reporters' writing. They don't follow the professional reporters' media logic. They do their own style," says Oh.

Despite the controversy, the site has attracted advertisers, including Korean company LG Electronics.

And Oh says the site is profitable, thanks to online advertising, sales of news content and a tipping service that allows readers to reward their favorite writers.


Story Tools
Subscribe to Time for $1.99 cover
Top Stories
Burgers, lattes and CD burners
Top Stories
CNN/Money: Security alert issued for 40 million credit cards
Search JobsMORE OPTIONS


 

International Edition
CNN TV CNN International Headline News Transcripts Advertise With Us About Us
SEARCH
   The Web    CNN.com     
Powered by
© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser.
CNN.com does not endorse external sites.
 Premium content icon Denotes premium content.
Add RSS headlines.