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News :: Media
OhmyNews citizen reporters meet in Seoul, Korea
26 Jun 2005
Seoul – More than 300 "citizen reporters" hailing from countries as far apart as Chile and Norway are coming together at the OhmyNews International Citizen Reporters' Forum from June 23 to June 26, 2005 in Seoul. OhmyNews is one of the most popular South Korean news websites, and it has played an important role in the election of reformist President Roh Moo-hyun. Unlike traditional news sources, OhmyNews allows any individual with an Internet connection to contribute stories. A professional staff of journalists vets incoming submissions and decides which stories are to be published.

The project is sponsoring the forum in order to promote its English edition, officially launched in May 2004. Citizen reporters writing in English exchange ideas and stories, and try to understand the inner workings of the Korean edition. The conference is sponsored by Korean corporations such as Samsung, SK Corporation, LG, Yuhan-Kimberly, and Asiana Airlines.
Conference events

Speakers include Ken Takeuchi, president of JanJan, Shintaro Tabata, head of news service at Japan’s Livedoor, Professor Clyde Bentley from the University of Missouri and, Professor Neil Thurman from City University London, Jeremy Iggers from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and Erik Möller from Wikinews.

Conference participants were welcomed by OhmyNews founder and CEO Oh Yeon Ho on Thursday evening. On Friday, they toured briefly through Seoul's technology sector, including a visit to the "Ubuiquitous Dream" exhibition and Samsung's technology showroom. "Ubiquitous Dream" is meant to demonstrate Korea's vision of ubiquitous computing, including Internet-enabled refrigerators, household robots and voice recognition. Afterwards, conference attendees visited the OhmyNews news room, including a studio used for producing streaming video.

Visitors were given a chance to take a look at the Cheonggyecheon restoration site, an attempt to transform a riverbed into an avenue with parks and fountains. The restoration project manager gave an overview of the effort, and Seoul's mayor Lee Myung Bak briefly highlighted his vision of Korean city development.

At the end of Friday's events, speakers and citizen reporters alike met in the Grand Ballroom of the COEX Convention and Exhibition Center. Oh Yeon Ho gave a brief but passionate speech about his project: "We are from different countries and many of us have a different skin color, but we share one struggle: Every citizen is a journalist." He stated that citizen journalism needs "sustainable business models" to survive. OhmyNews is funded by advertising and subscriptions. He also pointed out the need for different citizen journalism projects to collaborate, and announced the creation of a global alliance to this end.

After Oh's speech, Chin Dae Je, South Korea's Minister of Information and Communication, gave a presentation about ubiquitous computing and the future of the information and communications technology sector in Korea. Lastly, many different citizen reporters, including an 11-year-old from Utah, told their stories about how they joined the OhmyNews community and participated in group photos and a flag ceremony.

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