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Journalistic Professionalism Revisited: A Case Study of Citizen Journalists at OhmyNews in South Korea

Wednesday, March 13, 2013
12:00 AM
Room 1636, School of Social Work Building, 1080 S. University Ave.

Deborah Chung, Associate Professor, School of Journalism and Telecommunications, University of Kentucky

While many citizen news operations have come and gone, South Korea’s OhmyNews has been remarkably successful and has become one of the most influential news sites in the country, directly challenging established traditional media outlets. The investigation into citizen journalists’ work in contemporary news media is significant because the activity of reporting has been exclusive to professionally trained journalists. Embedded within this notion is the idea of journalistic authority that assumes the public benefits from trained professionals. However, in the age of digital, interactive and citizen journalism, professionalism is being re-conceptualized. In this project, we examine OhmyNews citizen journalists’ perceptions of their work and align them with the three dimensions of professionalism (i.e., cognitive, normative and evaluative dimensions) identified by Singer (2003). We further integrate these perceptions into journalistic role conceptions that articulate how citizen journalists understand their functions as contributors of information. With the help of citizen reporters, it appears that OhmyNews seeks to more appropriately address the current climate of story telling through a negotiation of journalistic professionalism and a compromise of citizen-professional collaboration.
Deborah Chung( is an associate professor in the School of Journalism and Telecommunications at the University of Kentucky. Her research focuses on the changing dynamics between communication professionals and their audiences through emergent information communication technologies (ICTs) and in particular focuses on how ICTs may empower information consumers. She has studied the concepts of interactivity, participatory journalism and convergence.