Wednesday, February 22, 2006

OhmyNews going global

OhmyNews, the Korean citizen-journalism site that has been credited with helping to get that country's president elected, now has $11 million (U.S.) from SoftBank to try to expand its English-language site and its model to other countries.

According to the release, Softbank will make a direct $5.2 million investment in OhmyNews and end up with almost 13 percent ownership. OhmyNews will use that money to develop its TV arm and expand its English site.

The companies will also launch OhmyNews International Co. Ltd. to spread the Ohmy gospel worldwide.

I'm not sure Ohmy's success can be exported worldwide. Korea's culture and technological development make it highly suited to a citizen-journalism venture. But it is not unique, and I think Ohmy will have some success elsewhere.

Will it roil the U.S. scene? I don't think so; I do not sense in too many quarters the same desire for participation here. But that, too, is likely to change over time, and Ohmy has built what seems like a sturdy framework of integrating participatory journalism with a system of rewards for the best work and a system of editing to help standardize quality and credibility. I predict a toehold for now, but publishers who don't at least keep their radar up on what Ohmy does will be taking a risk.

Jeff Jarvis' take on things.


At 2/27/06, 11:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think there's any way this will fly.

As an editor at Winthrop's paper, I have to constantly scold and cajole students into giving me timely story assignments. They're paid to do it too.

I'd be deeply surprised if the American public were up to reporting events for free.

At 2/27/06, 6:08 PM, Blogger Doug said...


Well, of course what OhmyNews has done differently is introduce the concept of the "tip jar," where writers can be paid by the public for good stories. The tale that often surfaces about this is of one Ohmy contributor who made thousands of dollars with one piece.

Of course, that is the exception. Most make little. But I'm not sure that for some of these writers it takes much more than that. I think there are a number of people who want to write, and while they don't necessarily want to do it for free, they just want a little recognition. We'll see.


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