[Documents menu] Documents menu

Online ‘news guerillas’ shaking up Seoul media

The Straits Times, 26 October 2000

They scoop the press on Kim’s Nobel Prize award

SEOUL—An army of online news guerillas is shaking up South Korea’s traditional media, breaking scoops such as who would win this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

The fledgling www.patzzi.com got the scoop on the Nobel Peace Prize being awarded to President Kim Dae Jung, even though he held back the news from some government officials.

The online news media often beat major newspapers and broadcasting companies to stories which the mainstream media miss.

Seoul’s OhmyNews (www.ohmyNews.com) created a sensation with its scoop on newly-elected young reformist law-makers going on a drinking binge in the southern city of Kwangju, where they went to commemorate the 1980 massacre of pro-democracy protesters there.

Launched in February, OhmyNews has emerged as a front-runner among the Internet news providers in South Korea.

Apart from 12 full-time staff reporters, it boasts 5,600 news guerillas—readers who can send in their own stories and who often pay more attention to hidden stories than mainstream journalists.

We produce what the conventional news media don’t produce or will not produce, OhmyNews president Oh Yeon Ho said, referring to newspapers and broadcasters under pressure to keep their owners and advertisers happy.

Industry sources say on-line news media have the advantage of a real-time service and interactive relations with their consumers.

In addition, South Korea has become an Internet haven with one of the highest rates of use in the world.

But analysts warn against the flip side of the brewing digital revolution as there is no whistle-blower against on-line disinformation.--AFP