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OhmyNews Japan Debuts
New site launches with 1,000 citizen reporters
OhmyNews (internews)     Print Article 
Published 2006-08-28 11:43 (KST)   
A new model of media is being exported from Korea to Japan for the first time in the history of the Korean media, OhmyNews CEO Oh Yeon-ho said on Monday, announcing the launching of OhmyNews Japan.

OhmyNews received investment funds of US$10 million (110 billion won) from Softbank, led by CEO Masayoshi Son, last February. It established a branch in Tokyo and finally launched OhmyNews Japan, utilizing $5 million (60 billion won) of these funds.

©2006 OhmyNews
OhmyNews Japan has been recruiting citizen reporters since last month. Up till now, approximately 1,000 citizen reporters have joined OhmyNews Japan. Shuntaro Torigoe (66), a well-known journalist in Japan who previously worked with the Mainichi Daily newspaper, was appointed as the chief editor of OhmyNews Japan. The site currently has 22 employees, including 10 staff reporters. The first issue of OhmyNews Japan published about 20 articles written by citizen reporters.

Oh Yeon-ho, CEO of OhmyNews, has been staying in Tokyo for the last two months to manage the launch of OhmyNews Japan. Oh said he was very excited about this new project because it was the first case to actively apply the OhmyNews model abroad. He added that many people in Japan were greatly interested in OhmyNews and citizen reporters submitted their articles on diverse topics even before the launch of the newspaper.

He explained that OhmyNews Japan planned to recruit 5,000 citizen reporters by the end of this year and 40,000 within two years. OhmyNews currently has about 40,000 citizen reporters in Korea. According to Oh, OhmyNews will implement cultural exchange programs, including mutual visits between Korean and Japanese citizen reporters in the near future.

World media takes notice

The launch of OhmyNews Japan has attracted a great deal of attention from both online and offline media in Japan. Some 40 reporters from major newspapers in Japan (including Asahi, Yomiuri, Mainichi and Sankei) will participate in the news conference on the launch of OhmyNews Japan at 3 p.m. today (Monday). Also, Fuji TV will interview Oh in its nightly news program. Furthermore, Fuji TV has prepared a documentary on the preparation and launch of OhmyNews Japan over the last two months. Bloggers and netizens in Japan are actively discussing directions and approaches OhmyNews should take.

The staff of OhmyNews Japan
©2006 OhmyNews
The launch of OhmyNews Japan has become a hot issue among the global media interested in citizen journalism. Foreign correspondents in Japan have expressed great interest in OhmyNews Japan and invited Oh and Torigoe to a meeting at the Foreign Correspondents Club. They will give a lecture and hold a news conference at the club on Sept. 7.

Localization key to success

Whether OhmyNews Japan succeeds or not depends on how it is localized to fit the news environment in Japan.

Oh said OhmyNews Japan has declared "political and ideological neutrality" in order to fit the socio-political environment in Japan, while OhmyNews Korea emphasized "open-minded progress" in order to change the distorted environment in the conservative-dominated media. Oh further explained that citizen reporters in Japan would use their real names in their articles like Korean reporters, but pen names would be allowed for some exceptional cases.

Globalization of OhmyNews

OhmyNews International has been published in English since 2004. OhmyNews International has some 1,300 citizen reporters in about 100 countries. OhmyNews will more actively promote the globalization of articles written by citizen and staff reporters with the launching of OhmyNews Japan. This will be done by translating article written in local languages to Korean, Japanese, and English.

To realize its new endeavor, OhmyNews actively seeks citizen reporters whose articles could be shared globally. For instance, five articles by Korean citizen reporters were translated into Japanese and presented in the first issue of OhmyNews Japan. Also, OhmyNews has launched a "Japan Watch" section prepared by Lee Byung-sun, a staff reporter. Lee, an expert on Japanese affairs, can report and write articles both in Korean and Japanese. His articles will be presented simultaneously in OhmyNews and OhmyNews Japan. This can be seen as the birth of the global reporter.

The launch of OhmyNews Japan can also provide those who are interviewed in Korea and Japan with excellent opportunities to present themselves to the other country and to the world. OhmyNews, OhmyNews Japan, and OhmyNews International will cross-translate important interview articles in each of the newspapers. For instance, an interview with a well-known journalist in Japan conducted by OhmyNews Japan which appeared on Aug. 30, will also be presented in OhmyNews and OhmyNews International.

There are several differences, however, between OhmyNews and OhmyNews Japan.

First, while OhmyNews requires resident registration numbers for registration, OhmyNews Japan asks citizen reporters to provide bank account numbers, because there is no resident registration system in Japan.

Secondly, OhmyNews calls articles that are not accepted by the editors "live trees." But OhmyNews Japan calls them "seeds of news." In other words, those articles have "hope" to generate quality news later although they lack some requirements at the moment. This name was created based on the characteristics of Japanese people, who are susceptible to others' criticisms.

Thirdly, OhmyNews Japan allows citizen reporters to use pen names if necessary, while OhmyNews strictly requires real names. To use pen names, citizen reporters have to provide acceptable reasons and their identity must be confirmed by the editorial bureau of OhmyNews Japan. In this case, a note will be added at the end of the article. This policy reflects the Japanese cultural practice that people are reluctant to use their real names in writing expose news articles.

Related Articles
Welcoming OhmyNews Japan
' OhmyNews Has Unlimited Potential '

©2006 OhmyNews
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