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South Korean News Web Site Impacting Public Opinion, Politics

Dave Winer pointed out an article in The New York Times about a South Korean on-line news site that has gotten as many as 20 million page views per day by touting itself as an alternative to establishment journalism. Apparently, OhmyNews is the place that Koreans turn to for information about breaking news and on-going controversies. Examples of major stories that have been covered recently include the Taegu subway bombing and the accidental death of two Korean school girls hit by a U.S. Army patrol vehicle.

One of the most interesting parts of this article is the extent to which OhmyNews incorporates reports from its user community:

Although the staff has grown to 41, from the beginning the electronic newspaper's unusual concept has been to rely mostly on contributions from ordinary readers all over the country, who send dispatches about everything from local happenings and personal musings to national politics.

Only 20 percent of the paper each day is written by staff journalists. So far, a computer check shows, there have been more than 10,000 other bylines.

The article also talks about a grading concept that OhmyNews has developed to help readers understand the degree of editorial review that each story on the site has received. This may be similar to the score applied to comments on sites like Slashdot, except that this scoring applies to the stories themselves and it is applied by the site editors, not the readers.

The number of page views recorded by OhmyNews is staggering when the size of the South Korean population is taken into account. In a country of 40 million people, this web site gets as many as 20 million page views per day. It appears to be written entirely in Korean, so relatively few people outside South Korea are regular readers.

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