Archive for the ‘Citizen Journalism and Mainstream Media’Category

Journalists exposed for their biased coverage of England riots

News outlets need to be held to account for their coverage of the headline-hitting English riots, a new report has argued.

Media and the Riots: A Call for Action, published on the first anniversary of the Tottenham, north London, riot which took place last August, is the first report to examine the impact of the mainstream print and broadcast media’s reporting on the communities most affected.

The report, written by University of Leicester sociologist Dr Leah Bassel, reflects the views of those people who attended the Media and the Riots conference held by the Citizen Journalism Educational Trust and in November.

Read more about the Media and the Riots – A Call For Action report on The-Latest.Com:

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NoCut News: The lowest of Korea’s tabloids

Refusing to be outdone in the xenophobe/racism department by TV station MBC, NoCut News has published a series of stories titled, “The Reality and Twisted Values of Some White Men.” This is on the tail of a series of stories about a foreign graduate student who allegedly (totally relying on one anecdotal source in typical tabloid style) filmed himself having sex with Korean women.

English language blogs The Marmot’s Hole and Gusts of Popular Feeling break down these articles and point out the bad journalism and inaccuracies.

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07 2012

Racist news piece on Korean broadcasting causes uproar

UPDATE: CNN iReport has posted piece on this.

Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) ran a piece on a show called “Think Different” (stealing slogans from Apple isn’t thinking different) called “The Shocking Truth About Relationships with Foreigners.”

The video presented Korean women who were in bad relationships with foreigners, people being intimate in dark clubs and some drunk foreigners talking about how Korean women are pretty. This was used with the obligatory “expert” saying that Korea needs to be more vigilant because foreigners are increasing in numbers.

Even aside from the racism, the piece itself was clumsily unprofessional. No facts were stated. One hilarious bit was when a producer called someone and said she’d heard that the person was a victim of a foreigner. When that person denied it, the voiceover replied that the victims have trouble admitting the truth.

When contacted by a staffmember at Busan Haps, an English language magazine in Korea’s large southern port city, the MBC representative claimed that their video was outsourced. They didn’t say anything about who decided to air this outsourced video.

It’s common in Korean media to outsource videos, even news pieces. MBC has had problems with a months-long strike. Was this video a side effect of the strike?

This isn’t the first time MBC has been in hot water for racism this past year. In February 2012, a skit aired that showed comedians performing in blackface. After facing international scorn, MBC gave a weak apology and promised not to let anything like that happen again.

After this video aired, it sparked controversy among Koreans and foreigners, condemning MBC for again airing racist programming. A Facebook group was started and gained over a thousand members in a couple of hours.

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05 2012

English Spectrum-gate: The systematic demonization of foreigners in the Korean press

Gusts of Popular Feeling has been running a series on a media-induced scandal in 2005 of a “sexy costume party” where photos of Koreans and non-Koreans in scanty attire were spread on the internet. The series goes into the origins of this party and the website associated with it, English Spectrum, and shows how a sensationalist unprofessional media and racist organization worked to create a meme of foreign English teachers being sexual derelicts, drug addicts, AIDS carriers, pedophiles and dregs on Korean society.

This incident was the spark that led to a series of government policies over the years making it even more difficult for Korean schools to find quality English teachers and running afoul of the National Human Rights Commission, particularly by requiring all foreign English teachers and only foreign English teachers to get AIDS tests.

This series is an interesting read and a great insight into how the Korean media works.

Part 1: English Spectrum and ‘Ask The Playboy’
Part 2: The Kimchiland where it’s easy to sleep with women and make money
Part 3: English Spectrum shuts down as Anti-English Spectrum is created
Part 4: How to hunt foreign women
Part 5: Did the foreigners who denigrated Korean women throw a secret party?
Part 6: The ‘Ask The Playboy’ sexy costume party
Part 7: Stir over ‘lewd party’ involving foreigners and Korean women
Part 8: The 2003 post that tarred foreign English teachers as child molesters
Part 9: Netizens shocked by foreign instructor site introducing how to harass Korean children
Part 10: Movement to expel foreign teachers who denigrated Korean women
Part 11: “Middle school girls will do anything”
Part 12: Netizens propose ‘Yankee counter strike force’
Part 13: Segye Ilbo interview with the women from the party, part 1
Part 14: Segye Ilbo interview with the women from the party, part 2
Part 15: Web messages draw Koreans’ wrath
Part 16: Thai female laborers and white English instructors
Part 17: ‘Regret’ over the scandal caused by confessions of foreign instructors
Part 18: “Korean men have no excuse”
Part 19: “Unfit foreign instructors should be a ‘social issue’”
Part 20: ‘Clamor’ at foreigner English education site
Part 21: Foreign instructor: “I want to apologize” 

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05 2012

[Ohmybus No. 411] Media revolution

[Ohmybus No. 411] Media revolution

1. [Definition] About Ohmybus No. 411 (acronym ‘Ohmybus’)

‘Ohmybus’ is not a commercial bus service but a mobile broadcasting studio. The number ’411′ means the date of the general election, April 11th. The bus ran around some parts of Korea during the general election. The Ohmybus broadcast was an internet TV program, adopting the idea of ‘beyond articles’ in OhmyNews. The founder and representative journalist of OhmyNews, Yeon-ho Oh, is the main presenter and a considerable number of candidates for general election from the whole nation were invited as guests for Ohmybus. Not only citizen reporters and OhmyNews full-time journalists, but also guests such as a writer, a professor and a monk made appearances to talk about the Korean election and politics. The phone interview with citizens and specialists had been taken also. Pictures were taken of both the inside and outside of the bus at the same time. The audience could watch this program through their smartphones or the OhmyNews webpage via the Ustream website, which is a platform for live video streaming of events online. The interviews were sent to the editorial office of OhmyNews in real time by full-time journalists on the bus, and citizen reporters also contributed to create some content using social networking services, such as Facebook and Twitter, to improve communications between audiences and broadcasters.

There is enough space for both live broadcasting studio and a workspace for journalists in the Ohmybus


2. [Background] 2012, a significant year in the Republic of Korea

The President of the Republic of Korea is elected nationwide and serves a single five-year term with no additional terms being allowed. The general election for selecting 300 lawmakers is held every four years. In that way, only once every twenty years is the presidential election and the general election during the same year. This year, 2012, is one of those years. This is a remarkable year because the results of the general election will directly link to the presidential election in December.
Amid the increasing polarization of wealth, people’s antagonism toward neoliberal economic values and political conservatism deepened during the last four years. Therefore the opposition alliance has been organized, and they call on voters to “pass judgment” on the Lee Myung-bak administration. Meanwhile, the ruling Saenuri party organized an emergency council headed by Park Geun-hye, who is the conservatives’ front-runner for the presidential race in December. In addition, the journalists from the major broadcasters: KBS, MBC, and YTN have walked out to protest against ‘management censorship’ of their news. Under such circumstances, OhmyNews planned to run a special feature on-air, live on the bus.

3. [Features] The appreciable effects in Ohmybus

(a) Collaboration of old and new concepts

Over a long period, the ‘bus’ has been a common and conventional transportation in South Korea. At the same time, ‘broadcasting’ is very much a traditional way of delivering messages in the media industry. Recently, social media has become the most popular communication tool among Koreans. They have realized that social media is a powerful instrument in building consensus and mobilizing massive crowds within a short period of time. ‘Ohmybus’ has adopted three of the old and new concepts cohesively.
The program was on the air amid a better-than-expected public response. In terms of bus concepts, the audiences wrote positive comments constantly throughout social media. Some comments include, ‘It feels like travelling around the whole nation for myself’, ‘It was a great opportunity to know other candidates besides my MP’, ‘The OhmyNews should visit my area too,’ and so on. The travelling bus made people feel nostalgic for their past memories, and it took an important role as mobile broadcasting equipment. There is enough space for both a live broadcasting studio and a workspace for journalists.

Ohmybus visited Jagalchi market in Busan and interviewed the market traders

 (b) Live coverage 2.0

In 2008, OhmyNews also broadcasted live about the candlelight vigils sites where nearly the whole nation rallied against importing U.S. beef. It has implied that internet live could be used to present live broadcasts as well as major television networks. In comparison with 2008, the Ohmybus show brought another new idea such that audiences can enjoy the internet live in HD. Furthermore, there were improvements of solving buffering problem and pop-ups. Above all, viewers can watch the show with smartphones in most any environment.

(c) Politainment

‘Politainment’, a portmanteau word composed of politics and entertainment, indicates tendencies in politics and mass media to liven up political issues. This term does not seem to have become common in Korea yet. Last November, comedian Choi Hyo-jong was sued by Kang Yong-seok, who is an independent lawmaker, for collectively defaming him on the show. Mostly, politicians are likely to make appearances only to talk about topical issues and their election pledges. Their inflexible political posture can be seen here. However, those who visited ‘Ohmybus’ had slightly different attitudes. The secret behind their attitude difference is ‘the power of music.’ There were three singers invited on the bus, and their music touched candidates as well as audiences.
Korean’s famous ‘socialtainers’–writers, professors, a monk and broadcasters–also joined the program to liven up the mood. The term ‘socialtainer’ is a compound word of ‘social’ and ‘entertainer,’ which indicates people who are in positions of social influences who express their social and political ideas. There are other special guests, such as the candidates from the minority parties, such as the Green Party, Chungple Party and Newjinbo Party. It is supposed to be communicated over a variety of groups in terms of political issues and general elections.

About OhmyNews

OhmyNews is an online newspaper website with the motto “Every Citizen is a Reporter,” which is based on citizen journalism. It was founded by Yeon-ho Oh in the year 2000. Now he is the prototypical journalist and CEO of OhmyNews. In 2004, the OhmyTV website was launched. About thirty percent of the articles on this website are written by full-time reporters while most of the articles are posted by ordinary citizens. Only the editorial full-time staff takes charge of this edition. OhmyNews had made an impact on the results of the South Korean presidential election in 2002. After being elected, President Roh Moo-hyun granted his first interview to OhmyNews.

The staff of Ohmybus gathered in front of the Blue House after 14 days of travel


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04 2012

Shuttle Discovery Citizen Photospotting

On my Facebook wall yesterday, every now and then a friend would pop up to say they had seen the space shuttle Discovery being piggybacked by a plane. These were not just the odd enthusiasts. This journey was photographed by hordes of people and posted around the internet. You could say it was a shared cultural moment that used the internet instead of broadcast media. Would it constitute a pop culture moment?

Discovery’s last voyage as seen from below (CNET)

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04 2012

Bloggers’ Lawsuit Dismissed Against AOL, HuffPo

A New York federal court judge has ruled against bloggers who sued The Huffington Post for compensation for their contributions to the news website.

“There is no question that the plaintiffs submitted their materials to The Huffington Post with no expectation of monetary compensation and that they got what they paid for – exposure in The Huffington Post,” U.S. District Court Judge John G. Koeltl wrote in his March 30 dismissal of the lawsuit.

Jonathan Tasini and others contributors /bloggers filed the class action suit after AOL purchased the Huffington Post for $315 million in February 2011, claiming their contributions and articles contributed to the value of The Huffington Post.

They were seeking back pay – to the tune of $105 million, according to the suit that was filed April 12, 2011, against AOL,, and Arianna Huffington and Kenneth Lerer, the news website’s founders.

Judge Koeltl found that the plaintiffs represented “professional or quasi-professional writers” who “submitted significant volumes of content over varying periods of time. For example, plaintiff Tasini, described in the Complaint as a professional author, politician, union leader and successful United States Supreme Court litigant, submitted content 216 times over the course of more than five years and publicized that content through social networking media such as Facebook and Twitter.

“Rather than monetary compensation, the unpaid content providers are offered exposure — namely, visibility, promotion and distribution, for themselves and their work,” the judge continued.

“Under New York law, a plaintiff must plead some expectation of compensation that was denied in order to recover under a theory of unjust enrichment. The complaint fails to do so and the claim for unjust enrichment must therefore be dismissed,” according to the judge’s ruling.

Susan Cormier is the co-author of the “Handbook for Citizen Journalists” (

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04 2012

Facebook ‘Common Sense’

Last September, I was experiencing the first probable feelable shock of an earthquake in my life. I was riding towards my room on my bike that evening. On reaching the center of the Sankhamul Bridge of Kathmandu, my bike got stopped. Suddenly, the 8.9 scaled quake started swinging the bridge. After seeing the public scampering, my heartbeat also got faster because of fright. I was thinking, the bridge may break down. After escaping out, I was so eager to update my Facebook status about this most memorable incident. Through the hurdles in network connections, I accomplished the job of updating. Some friends liked and some of them commented on it.

Besides the comments, I admired something else. The wall of this social network was filled up with current updates about the recent quakes. Casualties, damages, intensity on different areas were all seen in the posts of the users. Facebook at that time stood as an open portal for citizen journalism. Merely 10 percent of my Facebook friends are journalists working for different media or freelancing, but I was seeing the posts from about 50 percent of my friends who have not done their first reporting. I was getting the updates from most of the districts in just seconds.

“No one has to be a professional Journalist to disseminate the Information or news.”

This statement has been proven because Facebook was the only news source for me that day. Most of the radios and TVs were playing music. Some were talking about politics and some were scrolling flash news. But naively I was searching for full details about the casualties in the areas of my concern, which may be my homeland or somewhere else. But none of the media were providing the full details. I thanked my friends for updating their statuses. I, too, was updating my experience and perceptions about the quake, through which my friends abroad could get informed. After that day, I am always thinking and searching for ways to use this social portal as a space for citizen journalism. If used decently, Facebook permits us to get a lot of news, information and updates through an individual citizen journalist. In my sense, every Facebook user is a journalist who may be narrowcasting, but is propagating the news. All of us, you and I.

You may be wondering what I mean by decency. I do have another experience to share. I have liked some interesting Facebook fan pages. Some of the pages I have liked contain more than seventy thousand likes. One day I got the sad news of the demise of Ram Man Trishit, the popular music artist from Nepal. Again Facebook was the medium to give me the news.

“May his soul RIP,” I wrote on the status of With a profound heart, I was just signing-off, my eyes scanning loosely over notifications. Some of the users liked the status were there was written, “Ram Man Trishit is no-more.” I didn’t feel, I should say something to them because it is just common sense that no one likes his demise.

After the demise of Dalit-Activist Subas Darnal, many were writing on his Facebook wall. Some of them were stating, “I am sad to listen the news of your death, I do not believe it,” and some were writing, “Is this news true?”

Where had the common sense of those users been? Do they not know that the dead cannot answer their questions and comment on their status posts? Again the question of common sense arises.

The same is happening nowadays. The vulgar posts on Facebook walls also lack common sense. If you want to read more about those unbelievable offensive stories by clicking on ‘Follow,’ you will definitely get the same problems as these. If you want to get rid of those stories posted on the walls of your friends by your name, just click on ‘Report as Spam.’ You can see this option to the right of the story post.

Finally, it’s my conviction that Facebook is an open slam-book protected with passwords. If used decently it is a space for sharing feelings but it is also a destructive technology if we forget the universal concern of common sense. Again I say, use Facebook as a diary, to share your experience as a storyteller and to share the news as Citizen- Journalist. Facebook has the largest coverage, which not only spreads your success but also your slip-ups. Mind your clicks on likes and keys on comments. That’s the rule of Facebook common sense.

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Yonhap libels foreigners based on 0.2% of its members

Matt at Gusts of Popular Feeling does it again. A month ago, there was a drug bust in South Korea in which some native speaking English instructors were involved. Predictably, this bust was used to paint all native speaking English instructors as drug smuggling fiends intent on corrupting Korean youth and thus calls were made for tougher regulations on those instructors.

But Matt breaks it down.

First, the content of the bust. Matt went through multiple articles on this and found that the majority of the people in the bust, by far, were Koreans–not foreign English teachers. One was an underground hip hop singer. Many of the others were “office workers.” A little more digging found that this was likely a media cover up. These “office workers” were the children of prominent leaders in Korean society. But that doesn’t fit in with the foreign-English-teachers-as-drug-addicts meme. So the headlines, news stories and subsequent editorials stuck with their old whipping horse–foreign English teachers are dangerous drug fiends out to poison Korean society. Let’s panic and pass even more restrictions.

But Matt breaks it down again.

Through more digging, Matt found that the Americans and Canadians in the bust were of Korean ethnicity.

Why does that matter?

Korea has a visa type set aside for this category, the F-4 visa. Koreans from certain countries with Korean blood can get these visas and basically have all the economic freedoms Korean citizens have. In other words, they can have any job they want without having to get another visa for said job. The most popular choice is teaching English.

The other English teachers in public schools and private cram schools (hagwons) come in on a very restrictive E-2 visa. To get an E-2 visa, one has to exhaustively prove that she has graduated from a four-year university, has to provide a thorough criminal background check from a national agency (like the FBI) and must go through a string of tests for drugs and sexually transmitted diseases. Once this visa is acquired, the teacher’s owner owns the visa. That sentence may come out awkwardly, but that’s basically how it is. The owner of the business owns the visa and basically owns the teacher. The teacher cannot change jobs easily if it’s an abusive owner and usually has to wait until the one-year period runs out on the visa.

Contrast that with the Korean blood F-4. There are new laws requiring hagwon owners to verify university degrees for all teachers, but that’s about it. F-4 visa holders do not have to go through drug testing.

The crime here, as Matt suggests, is that many of these busts on foreign English teachers, if not the majority, involve people who aren’t on E-2 visas, yet it’s the E-2 visas holders that are made the societal scapegoats. The Yonhap editorial I mentioned in the title, which was published within mere hours of the drug bust story, was titled, “It’s regretful that English education is entrusted to marijuana smoking native speakers.”

It did not say, “Some marijuana smoking native speakers.”

Without that crucial modifier, the headline implied that most native speaking English teachers are pot smokers. In short, the headline alone libeled an entire demographic in Korea, despite the statistics, as Matt found, showed that less than 0.2% fit that category. Keep in mind that Yonhap is the South Korean version of the Associated Press and has a level of respect internationally.

In South Korea, libel is a criminal offense. One of the reasons it’s difficult on this site to publish original citizen articles is because of this law. It’s even libelous if it’s true. And in this case it’s definitely not.

In the eyes of the Korean public, F-4 visa holders aren’t true foreigners. They’re in a gray area. When Korean-blooded foreigners do well, the media treats them as if they’re Koreans. When they do badly, like get busted for drugs, they’re foreigners. There is a deep, likely subconscious but obvious, racial bias in Korean media. This drug bust is but one of many examples. Most of the people busted were Koreans. Most all of them were ethnically Korean. But the media did not want to embarrass the children of the rich and didn’t want to acknowledge that its rules for teachers are based on race. So it turned the bust into a convenient way to repeat the centuries-old mantra–foreigners evil.

A closer look at Friday’s hagwon instructor pot bust (Gusts of Popular Feeling)

Yonhap: “It’s regretful that English education is entrusted to marijuana smoking native speakers” (Gusts of Popular Feeling)

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‘Twitter censorship’ raises concerns from press freedom group

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Head of new media at press freedom group Reporters Without Borders says Twitter’s ability to ‘withhold’ content from users based on local restrictions could have ‘real consequences’ for journalists.

They are preparing an open letter to the chief executive of Twitter, to raise concerns about an announcement that the social media platform now has the power to “reactively withhold” tweets from users to meet country-based restrictions.

Read the full article on UK website

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