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What Does OhmyNews Mean to You?
A call for 100,000 strong OhmyNews member club
OhmyNews (cloudatlas)     Email Article  Print Article 
Published 2009-07-09 10:37 (KST)   
This is a partial translation of an OhmyNews article in Korean found here.  <Editor's Note>
100,000 Member Club
©2009 OhmyNews

"If citizens do not awaken, there's no hope left for me," said former President Roh Moo-hyun.
"If citizens do not act from their conscience, we have no democracy," said former President Kim Dae-jung.

Citizens, awake and ready to act with their conscience.

These two leaders who led the past 10 years of democratic rule in Korea, declared that democracy's final stronghold rested with the people.

I too, am a believer. Because I believe the citizenry to be democracy's final stronghold, I would like to declare my deepest hopes in front of you as the representative journalist of OhmyNews.

Let us surprise and shock the world once more. Let us change the course of media once more. Together with you, we would like to become the first model of citizen participatory internet media that becomes financially self-reliant through the power of the people, awake and acting with their conscience.

Today, OhmyNews will begin the "100,000 member club" project. Our 100,000 member club is a group run by citizens acting with their conscience to makeOhmyNews financially independent.

What is OhmyNews' value for you? Our 100,000 member club will contribute KRW 10,000 per month (about US$9) and enable OhmyNews to become wholly financially self-reliant and continue to develop and sustain itself.

I am asking you to become part of a revolution. In the past, about 70 to 80 percent of OhmyNews revenue came from corporate advertising and sponsorships. In contrast, contributions from readers only totaled five percent of total revenue. I have always believed that if we are truly a citizen participatory Internet media than the contributions from readers should be at least half of the total revenue. OhmyNews has succeeded in creating a revolutionary model for news production and consumption, but only if we can also create a new revolutionary revenue model, then can we call ourselves a true citizen participatory new media.

OhmyNews has about 70 employees on staff. Every month, about 450 million won is spent to pay wages, article submissions and server costs. Everyday, over 4 million readers read our content. However, only about 2,000 freely contribute financially. That is why we have relied on corporations, large and small, for their advertising revenue.

However, with the international financial crisis at hand, corporate advertising dollars have dropped dramatically. We are grateful for the remaining advertisers that have stayed with us. But we cannot continue to ask our advertisers for further support. And in contrast, we have not received a cent from the Lee Myung-bak government for central government advertising.

The outcome is that last year, OhmyNews was 700 million won in the red. At the half-way mark this year, we are 500 million won in the red. Last year, we initiated salary cuts and we have lost 10 employees since, however with the situation as is, it would be impossible avoid another deficit.

There are two choices left.

OhmyNews broadcasting team is on the scene from Gwanghwamun to the Legislative Assembly to report on all breaking news and events to OhmyNews readers.
©2009 OhmyNews

June 7, 2008, OhmyNews is on the scene, reporting and live-webcasting on the Candlelight vigils.
©2009 OhmyNews

One choice is to reduce the organization dramatically to decrease costs. But this would dramatically lower the level of services and we may have to discontinue our beloved OhmyTV live webcasts. It would take longer to edit and publish our citizen journalist articles and we couldn't perform our watchdog function of government and government organizations.

The other choice is finding a solution through citizen power. It is within the power of the readers and citizen journalists of OhmyNews to create a sustainable model for OhmyNews.

We at OhmyNews decided the latter option. We have decided to trust our readers and contributors. We hope to create a subscription membership of 100,000 in the next three years. First, we have set a target of 10,000 members by the end of this year. This will enable us to balance our budget. Please join us in our efforts.

We will mail our Weekly OhmyNews to our 100,000 member club and will offer special rebates and invitations to OhmySchool workshops and OhmyNews events. All our services on OhmyNews will continue to be free, but in the future we hope to offer some new services to our 100,000 member club.

Next February, OhmyNews will celebrate its 10 year anniversary. Let us declare the following for the 10 year anniversary: that we have enabled financial independence for citizen participatory internet media. If we can realize this hope, then the world will once again focus on OhmyNews and the Korean citizens. And our democracy will flourish.

2009.7.8


OhmyNews Representative Journalist, Oh Yeon-ho
Update: Within 20 hours of the announcement, some 1306 contributors joined the "100,000" member club and further 1800 have pledged their support.
©2009 OhmyNews

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