|The Founder of OhmyNews: Mr. Oh|
In his article “Gatewatching, Gatecrashing,” Bruns praises that citizen journalism is the true second-tiered form of media than alternative or tactical media. He also argues that citizen journalism “provides a pathway for off-mainstream news sites as they progress beyond a purely tactical stance, avoid the simplistic oppositional posturing of alternative media, and develop into a fully formed second tier of news media” (257). Therefore, citizen journalism allows participants to become a hybrid “producer” where they not only consume but produce media at the same time; this ultimately causes the news to have omni-perspectives rather than dictated solely by journalists.
OhmyNews is a South Korean model of citizen journalism founded by Oh Yeon Ho. It’s central idea is that “every citizen can be a reporter.” This site is unique in that it provides opportunities for anyone and everyone to become a “paid” reporter if he or she decides to register with the website. Initially started out as an attention-grabber for providing innovative public platform to the users, now it grew bigger and is constantly confronted with various challenges.
Publishing about 150 stories daily, OhmyNews catergorized about a third of them to have been written by professionals and the rest by citizens. Another one third of the citizens’ works is regularly rejected due to unverifiable facts or inappropriate topics. But there is a catch: if the authors of the rejected articles decide to attend the writing workshop and learn how to “re-polish” their stories, they get a second chance at publishing their stories. The real question was how many of them would devote their own time out of secondary school and go back to school to take these courses. So far, this phenomenon has provided good reasons for journalists to reaffirm the fact that majority of the ordinary citizens are simply not cut out to be professionally participating in the realm of digital media without proper training.
The economic depression also plays a part: “the bad encouragement.” The subscribers can pay “tips (better known as the donations)” to the articles they like, and this has become a big motivation for some. AndrewGruen, an OhmyNews journalist, claims that the biggest payment he received from the public was an amount of $20,000 in US dollars. If this incentive stimulated large amount of bad quality articles, now it is influencing to make people stingy. Less money equals less motivation to some, and less motivation leads to less participation.
However, despite its troubles and competitions from alternative competing citizen media platforms, OhmyNews is still thriving. It is still trying to employ demoncratic measures to ensure that everyone has a voice. It has become a useful and productive source of media as well, which was seen in the South Korean election of 2002. It is led to think that amongst many reasons for Preisdent Roh’s victory, one of them is the favorable articles written by many citizen journalists supporting his campaign which changed many voters’ perception about him.
This is a real example that citizen journalism is not a joke. It’s not just simply about writing their opinions on the blogs without thinking about the consequences; their voices can influence a nation, where another instance can be seen with Wendy Chun’s story about the Mad Cow disease. This right to express is given freely to everyone, but it is important to note that it should be used with responsibility and caution.