Progressive media – Made in S Korea

Extraordinary story of successful alternative newspaper model from South Korea’s Hankyoreh – brought to my attention in a video interview by VisionOntv’s Richard Hering at the recent Rebellious Media Conference in London. No news to Korea hands, I’m sure, but interesting for the rest of us.

Who wouldn’t kill, well not literally, for 60k shareholders and a readership of over half a million? Having such a broad ownership structure helps mitigate the effects of corporate patrons or wealthy individuals driving the news agenda. It is unavoidably more accountable to the public precisely because so many of the same public have a say in how the newspaper is run. It plays a vital role in improving the public discourse about governmental accountability, its inherent legitimacy forcing potential competitors to raise their games. We need that in Britain – maybe we all need to learn Korean to find out how they did it.

In the newspaper’s own words:

The Hankyoreh’s financially humble, popular beginnings are part of its legacy: its initial capital stood at 5 billion won, falling short of what most media experts considered the minimum necessary funding for a startup newspaper company. The Hankyoreh solved this issue by instituting a computerized editing system, which replaced the old type-mounted system. The new editing system reduced expense by 90 percent.

There’s hope for us all yet then.