- 評論・社会科学 (ISSN:02862840)
- no.74, pp.1-108, 2004-12
"OhmyNews" is an independent Internet newspaper in the Republic of Korea, and as such it wields great influence now. It is reportedly the largest Internet newspaper in the world. Five years ago, OhmyNews was published by four professional reporters and 727 "citizen reporters. "The number of OhmyNews citizen reporters has grown to more than 35,000 today. Mr. Oh Yeon-Ho, founder and chief representative of OhmyNews, gave a lecture at Doshisha University on 15 September 2004. We could hold a subject of inquiry on alternative media from Mr. Oh's lecture and could interview him. We found that, in fact, the success of OhmyNews is a remarkable accident in the world of journalism. So much so that many big media outlets in the world, such as the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and BBC have covered Mr. Oh's experimental challenge and his success with OhmyNews. We consider one of the big achievements of OhmyNews to be the abolition of the closed system of press clubs in Korea known (in Japanese) as Kisha Clubs. We thus refer to Internet newspapers in the Republic of Korea (especially OhmyNews) and Kisha Clubs in this article. As to why "OhmyNews" succeeded, we can point to several reasons. The most important reason, however, is the existence of the "prepared citizen" in the Republic of Korea. In the Republic of Korea, through a long fight for democratization, people have come to not believe in the traditional corporate media. The corporate media is identified in the public mind as standing by the "powers that be" and not reporting the truth. Consequently, people in Korea have held high expectations for the appearance of alternative news media. Many people harbor a strong will to change their society, and they can do so by supporting OhmyNews and participating in it as "citizen reporters." OhmyNews operates on the basis of several important concepts, the most important being : "Every citizen is a reporter." Mr. Oh explained that "This concept is the most characteristic" of OhmyNews. The traditional corporate media represents journalism of the 20th century. It is a one-way stream in which professional reporters write articles and the reader only reads it. But OhmyNews is breaking that cycle of 20th century journalism. OhmyNews has made journalism a two-way stream in which the reporter is reader, and the reader is reporter. The system of Kisha Clubs is a unique system in Japan and the Republic of Korea. It is an exclusive and conservative system which excludes non-member reporters. Mr. Oh of OhmyNews had successfully sued for abolition of the Kisha Clubs in Korea, and following that, President Roh Moo-Hyon abolished the Kisha Clubs of the country's central administrative offices. This dismantling of Kisha Clubs is rapidly advancing in the Republic of Korea. Yet in Japan it is not advancing at all, rightly inviting criticism of Japan's press system. But that does not appear to faze Japanese reporters of the corporate media and some Japanese scholars, who insist that Kisha Clubs are the most proper system for Japan. By contrast, abolishing the Kisha Clubs in Korea is the result of strenuous efforts by alternative media such as OhmyNews and a large number of supporters. All of which begs the questions : What benefits do we receive from the Japanese press club system? And what needs to be done to eliminate this outdated, injurious system? We dare to envision the kind of journalism in which people take part -as with OhmyNews- and at the same time, we aim to solve the many problems of journalism in Japan, above all permanently dissolving the Kisha Club system.