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.
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.