FRONTLINE/World [home]

Search FRONTLINE/World

FRONTLINE/World Rough Cut
Reporter's Notebook OhmyNews Web Site Vanessa with Farmer/Reporter South Korea at Night

Rough Cut
South Korea: Everyone's a Journalist
The story of OhmyNews


Vanessa Hua

Vanessa Hua is an award-winning journalist who covers Asian American issues at the San Francisco Chronicle. Her overseas assignments have included writing about adult adoptees in South Korea and reporting on returning expatriates in China. She has also reported from Panama and Burma, filing stories on human rights, AIDS, and microfinance programs. Hua began her career at the Los Angeles Times before heading east to the Hartford Courant. A Bay Area native, she graduated from Stanford University with a bachelor's degree in English and a master's degree in media studies.

Watch Video

Length: 14:34

I began my career as a newspaper reporter in the late 1990s, just as the Web began to take off. As a staff writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, I use the Internet all the time to dig up documents and track down people. It allows me to do my job better and faster.

But the Web has also forced the media industry to scramble. More and more readers expect to read the news online for free, and the proliferation of bloggers has made content cheap to come by and to create. Every day, I hear bad news about the decline in newspaper readership, about a public loss of faith in the media, about mergers and layoffs.

In 2005, I wrote my first report about OhmyNews, a South Korean online news site founded on the premise that every citizen is a reporter.

To get a closer look at the Asian media phenomenon, FRONTLINE/World sent me to the ultra-wired metropolis of Seoul, South Korea, to report on OhmyNews and explore whether such a model could be replicated here in the United States.

In the report, you will meet some of the site's most popular "citizen" reporters (more than 40,000 citizen journalists contribute to the site) and its founder, Mr. Oh; you will also see how the site morphed from the voice of a political movement in the 2002 elections into a vibrant news hub publishing hundreds of articles and attracting 2 million pageviews a day. When reformer Roh Moo Hyun won a tight presidential race in 2002, he granted his first domestic interview to OhmyNews, whose citizen journalists helped bring him into office.

It's also a personal journey for me, to see where my future as a journalist lies.

Vanessa Hua


london, nonn
Yeah no doubt very favorable for the students it was pleasant to read about this post!

I LIKE the fact that people can freely express their opinions and that many people have much to offer.We can learn from each other and I do appreciate that.Very progressive idea.Citizens being part of the world around them, and posting their thoughts, it's wonderful.

Vancouver, BC
As more people find entry into the online collective of blogs and commentary, just like this, citizen journalism will become more important and necessary. But the more of these articles I read, the more professional journalism I seek because the onslaught of what is opinion to what is comprehensive fact finding grows sparse. I find myself looking to those who have taken the effort to specialize and dedicate themselves, rather than those who do off the cuff reporting. Citzen journalism, in my opinion, will converge with opinion groups, each consumed depending on the sway of their readership. The hard part will be for the editors, seeking to present minimum bias to the balance of what will sell (be read). The more connected we become, the more liberty we can express, but be mindful and careful of the damning opinion which travels the fastest and sticks the longest. HRC

Omar Hassan - Mogadishu, Somalia
Amazing story!!! Great way to educate the pubic to be more influential !!

a f - sacramento, ca
great story....there is always a generational gap or educational gap that may hinder the utmost use of resources. did you find any? was the electronic medium used to the fullest potential and what are the margins you used to base your conclusions? i hope to learn from your story. thanks.

Tom White - Berkeley, CA
Great story here and in the San Francisco Chronicle. Thanks for the in-depth look at citizen journalism. This movement reminds me of Ashoka's effort to make "everyone a changemaker," empowering average folks to be social entrepreneurs. Similarly, citizen journalism encourages everyone to actively participate in the exchange of ideas and information, thereby reinvigorating our democracy. It's pros like you who remind citizen journalists about the basic elements and ethics of journalism.