In 2005, I was invited to speak at the Eurasian Median Forum in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

I only went for two reasons: First, I wanted to see Almaty. Second, I wanted to meet one of the other speakers –Oh Yeon Ho.

In 2000, Oh had founded OhmyNews (hangul:오마이뉴스) is a South Korean online newspaper with the motto “Every Citizen is a Reporter”.

Ohmy (based on Mr. Oh’s name, rather than an exclamation from Victorian England), was the world’s first open source style of news reporting. About 20% of the site’s content is written by a 55 person staff. The rest of the content comes from more than 27,000 ‘citizen reporters’ across Korea.

The Citzen Reporters are paid entirely on the basis of the number of hits their stories receive. It is a kind of pure market for news and information – a real ‘democratization’ of journalism.

OhmyNews was influential in determining the outcome of the South Korean presidential elections in December 2002 with the election of Roh Moo Hyun. After being elected, Roh granted his first interview to OhmyNews.

But Ohmy was done entirely in print.

I wondered if you could not do the same thing in video.

While I was in Almaty I met Ken Krushel, a former NBC executive and the founder of Proteus, a company that was one of the first to put video on cellular phones.

He liked the concept. So he, Carl Spielvogel (the former Chairman of Ad agency giant Backe/Spielvogel/Bates, and later Vice Chairman of Interpublic), formed CitizeNews.

We are out raising money to turn the vision into reality – a place where the burgeoning numbers of VJs around the world who already have video cameras and editing systems and stories to tell can post their work and get compensated for it.

I was not going to write about this until we had closed on the financing. But Josh Wolf beat me to it with a piece on C/Net today. I am not going to argue with a man who went to jail for half a year to defend the concept of free press.

Instead, I will gladly follow his lead.

We are looking to put together an open platform for the best videojournalists in the world. A place where their work, real news and information, honest and intimate reporting can both be published and compensated for. (not to end a sentence in a preposition).

Now, we are putting together a core group of ‘founding VJs’.

If you are interested in participating, get in touch with me directly.

We are heading out to the West Coast next week for a series of meetings with the silicon valley VCs. It’s going to be an interesting ride.


8 responses to “CitizeNews

  1. From the sounds of this, the ripple effect is going to be felt in the traditional media outlets. Detractors will express their disgust and make accusations of selling snake oil. The changes coming are for the better – but change is never easy or painless.

    As Morpheus said to Neo in The Matrix… “Welcome To the Real World”

  2. nice simple logo too!

  3. Cliff,

    The irony, of course, to your comment is….

    the Matrix is NOT the real world.

    Find a better analogy.

    Currently, citizens can already post their own videos, on any website. Usually…communities gather. Those interested in knitting, can post their own knitting videos on
    Those interested in fly fishing, on

    Drummers like me, can post their own drumming video on The list is endless.

    Citizens can already post citizen journalism. So while I definately am in favor of harnessing the best video journalism (I would watch it) some of this already exists. The NPPA I assume will at some point get its video act together to post their “Best of” on that website. B-Roll is posting videos (copyright issues, I am not sure about.)

    Brian Storm developed Mediastorm a year or two ago. There are likely other video outlets. The networks SHOULD develope a video journalism department. They will, I assume at some point. So, who knows where the economic model for this type of website will be.

    The competition goes both ways. Not only are the established networks facing more competition…but also any and all video websites, including start ups, will face the same competition.

    There has got to be something unique, creative and special in order for anyone to really remember why they would want to visit the site.

  4. Eric, You missed the point completely.

  5. Michael – all the best with the VCs –

    I still think my idea of a clearing house has better prospects. By all means promote the idea of a virtual auction house where news distributors can bid on (breaking) news footage uploaded by VJs and available for immediate download.

    If anyone out in LA is interested in my idea I’m sure we can come to an arrangement.

  6. Not to go too far from the original subject, but Bill Bryson wrote a usage guide for the English language which is very good, and focuses on “problem words or phrases.”

    In it, he discusses the idea of ending sentences with prepositions. Apparently it was not a commonly excepted rule, but some professor or other stuck to it, and it became “the law.”

    He gives several examples of sentences that would suffer greatly if forced to comply, and says that you might avoid it if possible, so as to avoid redundancies: “Where are you at?” But that if the sentence is made clearer by having the preposition at the end, then one should use it.

    “Michael, what are you looking for?” is more fluid than “Michael, for what are you looking?”

    So, abandon all guilt. If your “preposition ultima” makes better sense, then keep it. If you want to know “Where bubba got hisself off to,” then maybe you ought to stick to the drive through window.

    Back to the topic, I had just started writing a sort of VJ “Classifieds” site where VJs could post featurettes, and offer to sell them to the local newspaper website, or cut them so they would be useable on anybody’s site worldwide, and include a VJ channel to run the latest clips.

    It looks like I may be a little late, but I may finish the project anyhow. I just think of very simple (and ugly) sites like ebay was (especially in the beginning) and it gives one hope.


  7. Sorry, the word I meant was “accepted.” It is certainly excepted all the time.

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