A number of Thursdays ago, I was invited by the fearless and mighty Cynthia Yoo, the nigh-superhuman juggernaut behind Nanoomi.net, and TNM’s connections with English language blogs, to attend an introduction of a new “media mashup project” between Yonhap News and TNM. Personally, I think this is a really cool project.
(What’s a mash-up? Originally, it was two songs that seem dissimilar, combined by a clever DJ, in a way that just really, really works, despite the dissimilarity.. that’s a mash-up. Mash-up is starting to stretch its meanings to include things other than songs, it seems.)
TNM is a huge network of blogs and bloggers in Korea, and Yonhap News is a news wire that sends Korean news around the world: Korea’s Reuters, if you will. Now, these days, both of those groups face challenges in meaningfully introducing issues and events to the world: bloggers, because blogging is a new media which doesn’t carry a lot of clout or credibility in many circles: phone an embassy for a comment and tell them you’re a famous blogger, and then phone them again and tell them you’re from the Washington Post, Reuters, or Yonhap News… you’ll see what I mean.
Yonhap news, and many traditional news media also have a problem: while they have the name recognition to get that interview or comment, reporters at such places often have to complete several article write-ups per day, which means that even if they’d like to, often they don’t have the time to go into depth, and call all those sources that would deepen their reports, or write in a way that includes perspective or background knowledge of the underlying issues, even if they do know about them. And issues drive news stories, not events – news stories that tap into important issues spread, and ones that don’t drop like a tree in the forest.
To worsen that inability to go deep, traditional media also find themselves wildly outnumbered and unable to compete with the immediacy of bloggers, twitter users and the like. By the sheer law of averages, a few twitterers will be right where the news is happening, as it happens: beat reporters still have that dispatch time-lag. Thanks to things like twitter and tumblr, some kinds of breaking news have been pulled, unceremoniously, right out of the hands of those trying to report it. For example: I learned of Michael Jackson’s death and the Japan tsunami through twitter, and the suicide of ex-president Roh Moo-hyun through blogs, and the pictures of the Seoul floods that knocked my socks off weren’t the ones from any news source, but the ones people retweeted from instagram, tumblr, ACME tweet-a-photo, and Facebook status update links.
Another problem lies in the nature of the Korean Internet climate: if you follow Korea tech news even a little, you’ll know how Naver and Daum, the two biggest portals in Korea, utterly dominate the Korean Internet experience. They have recently been blasted for this – one Korean blogger took the portals to task for some of their manipulation of search results, and actually encouraged Koreans switch to Google, and try to break the Korean internet monoculture. Korean portals have been taken to task by others – one example.
One of the accusations against these portals is that they direct people to news articles that have been cut and pasted (perhaps without accreditation) onto pages hosted by the portals, rather than directing readers to the original articles hosted outside the portal’s network. By doing this, the portals keep readers inside their network, and get more eyeballs looking at ads in their own ad network. (By dishonestly (illegally?) copying content.) Previous efforts to get blogs and news gathered into one place has usually involved either bloggers copying content from news sources, or news sources copying content from blogs…often without permission from the other. Neither is an ideal situation.
Enter news Kurry (거리)
(One kind of kurry/geori-this is the picture on the top banner of my blog.)
A 거리 is (see the note at the end of the post), if I’ve got this right, the streets or the marketplace, in the sense of English idioms like “He knows the streets” or “Word on the streets…” It can also indicate a street that has a concentration of some one product – the office furniture street (Euljiro 4-ga) or the ddeokbokki street (Shindang) - so the title of the project– Kurry (I’m not wild about the transliteration, but…) evokes a marketplace for media, news, and insights. The Kurry Project is a collaboration between the many bloggers on TNM, and the journalists at Yonhap News, which will ideally bring the best of both sides into one project:
Bloggers will be able to grab a Yonhap story (legally) and highlight the issues or background that make the story compelling, and Yonhap will be able to (legally) pick up that more in-depth report from the blogger and circulate it (legally) along the Yonhap news wire as a follow-up. Meanwhile, Yonhap gains from the immediacy and depth bloggers and social network news can provide, while bloggers involved in the project have a chance of being picked up by an international news wire, and will be able to introduce themselves, when digging for a story, as “from Yonhap news” instead of “from JennyTheKittyLover on TiStory”… big credibility jump there. Some bloggers will be the “curators” drawing out stories that could be improved with some knowledge or expertise from the combined knowledge of the bloggers involved.
Sounds good, right?
One of my buddies who’s closer to the Kurry Media project just contacted me with a little more to say about the name, to clear up some confusion we’ve had in the comments, and a bit more about the goal of the project:
Turns out the Kurry is meant to be a kind of a triple-play on words: Kurry can refer to the 거리 – the marketplace of ideas etc., as I described it above; it can also refer to 카래 – Curry, the Indian food, which is a mix of different flavors coming together in harmony, OR the main meaning, as a transliteration of 꺼리, a verb-modifying tag which is used in Korean like this: 읽을꺼리 means something to read, 볼꺼리 means something to see, 말꺼리, something to talk about, etc.. — the Kurry project is meant to give people something to see, to read, to talk about, or to think about, that is keyed to their interests, rather than just the stuff newswires tell them to be interested in.
So, I hope that clears things up.