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Interview with Oh Yeon Ho

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Interview with Oh Yeon Ho,
Yuli Ismartono [time 29:53]

26th March, 2007

Yuli Ismartono: OhMyNews is a ground breaking journalistic concept, can you tell us how it began?

Oh Yeon Ho: Well, I started my career as a journalist in 1988 just after I graduated from university. I began working as a reporter for a monthly magazine called Mal - meaning speaking the truth. It was a small and minority magazine, especially compared to other mainstream publications. So I worked at the magazine for 11 years. At that time, I felt strongly that the Korean news market was severely distorted by the mainstream media. The main problem was the process of making public opinion, because the conservative newspapers dominated the market. I felt more citizens' voices were needed to make public opinion more democratic. So I came up with the slogan 'every citizen can be a reporter.' As you know, 20th century journalism was a one-way journalism: reporters were reporting and readers were reading. But I wanted to create a two-way journalism where all audiences can participate in forming public opinion. I thought the internet gave the possibility for that kind of participation. I had the notion for 11 years the concept that every citizen can be a reporter. Then I realized the internet could give ordinary citizens this chance to participate. So in 2000 I founded OhMyNews.

YI: How do you maintain quality if the source comes from different people?

Oh Yeon Ho: We opened up the opportunity to every citizen, but all articles from our citizen reporters and writers, should be screened and checked by our staff members. That is why we have about 15 staff reporters to do this. They are in charge of screening citizens reports. Nowadays, we see many users generating contents, such as through personal media bloggers. But blogs are not contents which are sent by third persons. But OhMyNews checks every citizens articles to be sure all the stories have factual accuracy. Regarding that point, we are quite different from individual bloggers.

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Personal Plofile
Oh Yeon Ho Oh Yeon Ho,
Oh Yeon-Ho from South Korea is the creator of 'citizen journalism,' in which ordinary citizens contribute towards a news organization. Through his OhMyNews online publication, Oh has virtually revolutionized journalism in Korea, allowing for citizens to report events from their places of origin.

OhMyNews is not a blog. Facts contained in reports submitted by people at large are thoroughly checked, verified and edited by professional staff at the OhMyNews office.

Oh, already an experienced journalist, developed the idea for OhmyNews in the United States, while he was a student. He launched it in Seoul on February 22, 2000, and it soon became one of the country's most influential publications.
Born in 1964, Oh graduated from Yonsei University in 1988 with a degree in Korean literature. He also holds a masters degree in journalism from Regent University in Virginia, USA and a Ph.D. in mass communications from Sogan University in Seoul. He received the Wharton Infosys Business Transformation Award for his work in information technology, particularly for his pioneering development of OhMyNews and the society-transforming contributions that resulted.
Yuli Ismartono Yuli Ismartono, [Interviewer]
Yuli Ismartono is an executive editor at Tempo, Indonesia's foremost weekly news magazine. Ms. Ismartono, who holds degrees in political science and journalism, has been with Tempo for 15 years, mostly assigned to covering events around the Asia region and interviewing national leaders - such as former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto, former South Korean president Kim Dae Jung,Cambodia's King Sihanouk and prime minister Hun Sen, the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and other newsmakers. She is currently in charge of Tempo's English language edition and managing editor of AsiaViews, an online and hardcopy magazine featuring news and commentaries from the Asia region, of which Tempo is a member and coordinator of the media group that publishes it.
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