OhmyNews presents an alternative outlet to South Korea

My recent encounter with an international independent media outlet, OhmyNews, has challenged me to think differently about the journalism industry.

Growing up, it has always been know that professional writers, reporters, broadcasters and anchors report the news whether it is through newspapers or through television. Now, in today’s digital world of computers and technologies, new media has greatly shifted the definition of journalism, which now incorporates online media and digital reporting.

OhmyNews was founded in South Korea as an independent, online website for news. It was founded in 2000 by Oh Yeon Ho with the motto, “Every Citizen is a Reporter.” The outlet was responsible for changing the outcome of the nation’s election in 2002.

I think OhmyNews presents South Korean citizens with another alternative to receiving news. Rather than getting information from mainstream media, OhmyNews allows freelance, ordinary citizens to act as contributors to the site alongside some professional staff. The website provides readers with a wide range of topics to read about from personal anecdotes to hard news. OhmyNews is a website the emphasizes citizen journalism and allows for more accurate and fairness in reporting.

Independent media such as OhmyNews is growing in the journalism industry today because it provides a space for average citizens to converse and engage with each other. For example, through this website, the articles act as blog posts in which the writer has the ability to converse with the reader through the “comments” section. As a result, the reader is able to share with everyone else his/her thoughts and opinions, bringing in more perspectives to the issues being presented in the article. Through OhmyNews, there are a variety of topics covered because of the abundance of contributors to the site.

OhmyNews differs from mainstream media because it does not filter specific types of news, rather, it brings into conversation what people want to talk about. Without news outlets such as independent media, there is a one-way tunnel for reporting the news. With the existence of independent media, people can be more aware of the “other” news stories that are hidden by mainstream media. Often, as we have discussed in my “Independent Media” class, stories that are rejected by mainstream media outlets are published by independent media outlets because they are more willing to publish stories that would be criticized in mainstream media.

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The right to free speech is not a crime

In 2012, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange left the United States and found asylum in an Ecuador embassy after the American media called for his murder for the “crime” of publishing classified documents regarding national surveillance in the country.

Assange, who leaked federal government documents to the public, has put forth a national debate surrounding not only surveillance in the U.S, but also the definition of free speech.

As journalists, or muckrakers such as Assange, it is a responsibility to release information that the public may not be aware of or to expose issues that are hidden in mainstream media.

The fact that Assange needs to leave the country for a crime that is not illegal makes me think that journalism is being redefined by the mainstream media, specifically regarding the right to free speech.

In the age of new media, journalists have much more accessibility to documents, whether they are public or not. For example, the Internet allows for people to access much more information than intended. For Assange, he merely did what other investigative journalists do: inform the public about the truth.

With mainstream media covering up certain issues and important documents, it is hard for the public to really know what is happening in the nation. This allows us to question the ethics and truth behind the news that mainstream media presents.

If individual citizens have the right to say what they want under the Constitutional right to free speech, then why is it a crime for a journalist to report on what they want?

Assange’s actions and the creation of WikiLeaks are not unconstitutional, in fact, he also has the right to free speech like everyone else. He should not be put on trial under the Espionage Act because there simply is no evidence of crime or even any wrongdoing. If releasing classified documents is not a crime, then why does the public believe he should be put on trial under the Espionage Act?

Blogging as a journalism tool

Upon reading the article on the future of the journalism industry I am delighted to see the ways in which journalism is a changing industry; for, blogging is now used as a more journalistic medium rather than a diary of everyday life by the average millennial.

I started blogging approximately two years ago through my personal blog, The Carousel of Opportunities. “The Carousel,” for short, highlights the eye-opening experiences I have been fortunate to seek out and experience over the course of my college career. At first, I began blogging as a hobby (I am a writer after all!), but as I wore the shoes of a journalist, I have used blogging to communicate with an even larger audience. Yes, I can tease stories and use other media like Twitter and Facebook, but blogging allows you to express your thoughts and ideas in an even more powerful light compared to other media. Also, I can share my experiences with others seeking similar opportunities.

The article, which focused on Josh Marshall’s Talking Points Memo, highlights an important aspect of blogging. It hints at the fact that bloggers are online muckrakers – which proposes a new type of journalism through the utilization of our advanced and digitizing technologies. I agree with the idea that blogging is, in a way, changing the journalism diaspora. It is through blogging that writers get their start as journalists. And most often than not, blogging acts as a catalyst to citizen journalism, who drive investigative reporting and muckraking.

Bloggers drive the journalism ethics debate today because it questions the legal and professional dynamics of journalists. Without proper citation of sources, attributions or interviews, bloggers must solely rely on their opinions and perspectives when inquiring about a story. This, perhaps, contradicts the idea of non-biased, objective journalism. Blogging, for many, is considered unprofessional journalism that allows for the “average Joe” to diary his/her own thoughts into a story. These factors make it easier for bloggers to delve into the world of muckraking journalism.

Although I can acknowledge the debate on blogging and what it brings to the journalism industry, I believe that blogging presents readers the opportunity to learn about journalists in a new light. Through blogging, readers can see the writer’s perspectives and thoughts on an issue, independent of the images painted in mainstream media. As a blogger, I feel that it is important to share with others your own writing that is more freestyle than anything a journalist would ever publish. It is important to understand bloggers and the purposes of blogging; for, it presents us with another’s perspective on an issue, opening up another side to the story.