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10 Preconditions for the Value of User-generated Content
[Speech] OhmyNews CEO Oh Yeon-ho's address on the 7th anniversary of the company
Oh Yeon-ho (internews)     Print Article 
  Published 2007-02-26 16:02 (KST)   
OhmyNews CEO Oh Yeon-ho and citizen reporters cut a rice cake on Feb. 22, commemorating the company's seventh anniversary.
©2007 Nam S.Y.
Dear readers and citizen reporters of OhmyNews, as well as our partners and contractors:

February 22nd is the seventh anniversary of OhmyNews. I'd like to thank all of you for your participation. I will address our new resolutions and aspirations here, concerning our seventh anniversary.

In 2000, we took our first step with OhmyNews under a somewhat peculiar motto, "Every citizen is a reporter."

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Having started with 727 citizen reporters, the number of our citizen reporters has exploded to over 50,000. Our citizen reporters work not only in Korea but also from 100 other countries. OhmyNews Japan was inaugurated last year and we are now realizing our motto "Every citizen is a reporter" all over the world.

Many Issues, One Foundation

Many international media has continuously paid attention to OhmyNews.

In 2002, they were interested in the power of the Internet media and netizens' participation in politics in Korea which generated changes in the presidential election then. Indeed, this issue concerns participatory democracy through the Internet.

In 2004, the main interest changed. People wanted to learn about the differences between OhmyNews and bloggers because "bloggers" was selected as the "word of the year" by many media. The focus on OhmyNews in 2004 was the Internet and personal media.

In 2005, another aspect of the Internet got a lot of attention. As Web 2.0 -- characterized as participation, openness and collective intelligence -- was introduced, people tried to interpret OhmyNews through this new technology. Their main interest included the Internet as a platform.

In 2006, OhmyNews attracted its audience and participants by user-generated content (UGC). TIME, a weekly news magazine in the U.S., selected "YOU," active netizens, as "The Person of the Year." TIME introduced a citizen reporter of OhmyNews as an example of "YOU." The main interest of 2006 was contents produced by netizens in the internet.

As we can see above, the focal interests in OhmyNews differ every year. But, there is one main foundation under the bottom line. It concerns how citizen participants create a new journalism and a new world.

A group of university students who are dedicated OhmyNews citizen reporters
©2007 Nam S.Y.
Two Blessings from the UNESCO Conference

I participated as a panelist in a conference on new media hosted by the UNESCO in Paris this February. The main topic of this conference was if the age of the Internet enhanced the freedom of speech for citizens. While joining the conference, I though of many issues and concerns. I learned through case studies on Egypt and Nepal how the freedom of the media has been violated there even in this era of the Internet.

Compared to the situations in these countries, I think that we Koreans are blessed particularly in two regards. First, we enjoy the world's best Internet infrastructure. Furthermore, we have achieved the freedom of speech at the highest level in the world (as some may joke that criticizing the president is the national hobby of the Korean people).

However, the two blessings, which we benefit now, are not free, but have been accomplished by our efforts. That is why it is more meaningful for us. We have paid priceless costs for our achievements. Thanks to the pains and toils of workers during the industrialization and informationization processes and the 20 years of the pro-democracy movements (such as the Popular Uprising for Democracy in Kwangju in 1980 and the June Democratic Uprising in 1987 in Korea), we are now invited to enjoy the fruit of this labor.

Therefore, we should mandate our duties by ourselves here. We are responsible for utilizing the precious values, which we have achieved. The world is watching us to see if we can effectively use our excellent Internet infrastructure and practice freedom of the press.

As UGC has become a new trend in the world, we should take initiatives towards creating a "productive UGC," based on our capabilities and capacity.

Ten Preconditions for the Value of UGC

I presented the "Ten Preconditions for the Value of UGC" at the UNESCO conference as following. They include four focal points: namely credibility, responsibility, influence and sustainability.

Credibility

To deliver correct and non-manipulated facts. Reporters should possess clear motives on contents before the audience.

To be free from copy-right infringements. Contents must be produced by reporters by themselves and not copied from somewhere else without permission.

Responsibility

To create contents with considerations on the needs of the audience and news sources and not only based on the own needs of reporters.

To contribute to improving the quality of the media, which reporters work with, by taking account of the nature of the media (platforms).

Influence

To produce contents recommendable to others. Stories should be worthwhile sharing with others rather than personal diaries.

To ensure the attention of the critical mass who are able to build public opinions. The media (platforms) should become supporters in securing a good number of the audience for valuable contents.

To make repercussions not only in the cyber world but also in real life.

To generate positive impact on the public spheres. Contents helping to resolve issues would be more desirable than simple criticism and raising issues only.

Sustainability

To win recognitions as useful contents among the audience and utilize the recognitions as a foundation for sustainable production of contents.

More desirably, to become marketable and contribute to establishing good and sound business models for the media.

Indeed, these 10 preconditions are nothing new. They have been pursued since the concepts of press and journalism were introduced. In the age of new media, we are seeking answers based on the old values of credibility and responsibility. It shows how basics are essential.

As like in the beginning, OhmyNews will go together with you.

More information does not mean better information. By the same token, more participation does not automatically ensure a better society for us. Valuable information and valuable participation are needed.

Celebrating the seventh anniversary, OhmyNews, as the originator of the UGC journalism, will take the lead to ensure our age of the UGC to become a productive, participatory era. We will lead to creating productive, valuable contents at the world's top level by utilizing our best internet infrastructures and the most secured freedom of the media.

I believe that our audience, citizen reporters and business partners will join us through their participation and criticisms. I thank again all of you for creating OhmyNews today.

Oh Yeon Ho, CEO and President of OhmyNews

- 10 Pre-conditions for the Value of User Generated Content by Oh Yeon-ho (read by Carlos Rix) 

Note: An alternative term for user-generated content is user-created content.
©2007 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Oh Yeon-ho

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