One of the most successful citizen journalism ventures, Korea’s OhmyNews, said Wednesday it had received an $11-million investment from Softbank.
Softbank’s cash infusion gives the Tokyo-based firm 12.95 percent of OhmyNews’ outstanding shares.
Six-year-old OhmyNews, which has previously said it is profitable, will use the investment to launch a Japanese news site, the first “stepping stone” of the soon-to-be-formed OhmyNews International. It also plans to develop its video journalism arm and improve its English-language edition.
OhmyNews CEO Oh Yeon Ho has built a team of almost 40,000 citizen reporters who are compensated for newsworthy pieces.
At a gathering of OhmyNews contributors last summer, he told them “You have made one-way journalism into two-way journalism. Citizens are no longer spectators. A new era has begun in which regular citizens can become reporters whenever they so desire, and by doing so contribute to public opinion.”
A team of editors maintains the site, which reportedly has more than 500,000 visitors a day, and contributes a small portion of its content.
I’ve long believed that citizen journalism is a viable alternative to mainstream media. This development is a positive sign that the public savours the ability to shape and mould the news for their interests, rather than simply pandering to the corporate dollar.