Newspeppermint - Civil Registry Discussion

Hi Newspeppermint. You have successfully submitted your application to join the Civil Registry. Over the next 10 days, members of the Civil community may reach out to you with questions regarding your editorial policy, privacy policy, and business model. Newsrooms will get an email alert every time there is a comment relating to their Civil Registry Profile. Please make sure to check this discussion forum regularly to respond to community comments.

(Cross-posting from previous discussion forum, for posterity:)

3 months ago
I hope that challengers will take the time to closely edit and proofread their own text before setting a bar for others to meet.

I believe at this stage it is important we set the decor about what is a Newsroom and what are the limits between journalism and related contents or services.

2 months ago
With a rate of 100% vote for rejection, it seems this curator did their job just fine. However I don’t think your comment brought anything useful to anyone. Therefore, may I recommend that next time, you take the time to think about whether to make a passive-agressive comment towards people who take the time to create a challenge? To be clear, this challenge wasn’t mine, but I certainly would not have appreciated your comment if it was. Thanks,
3 months ago
Perhaps Civil could set up a forum where we might pursue some of the suggestions raised by this excellent string of comments by jer979, Benjamin and matei.

It strikes me that the first several challenges – which have all succeeded – suggest a need for some level of prior vetting by the Civil team. A 14 word application (mmviii) shouldn’t get out of the starting gate. Nor should the others that have been rejected.

Note that the number of tokens being voted seems to have already declined significantly with each new challenge.

There is a limited amount of time and bandwidth that journalists and interested laymen (like me) can be expected to devote to this system. If we are consumed with poorly thought through “newsrooms” or blatant efforts to test our most basic principles, we may well lose the attention of those we will genuinely need down the road for the serious examination and comment when really difficult issues confront Civil.
3 months ago
This is an excellent point as well @peterj. Plus, shout out to @benjamin and @matei. I keep getting a “can’t reveal vote” error, so I may have to sit this one out. Loving the discussion. If inventing the future of journalism were easy, everyone would do it ;-)
3 months ago
I don’t know how to account for this, but I think it’s important to consider how effectively and thoroughly a Newsroom creator responds to a challenge. In mmcxiii (or whatever it is), the creator was very silent. Here (and in more recent ones) we have seen a strong defense. I think that counts for a lot.

Plus, the early adopters to Civil are key.

Inkeun has been put on notice that the adherence to the Constitution is critical (as have others) and, if inappropriate behavior continues, there can always be another challenge.

As Civil is new, I’m reluctant to have a “one strike and you’re out” policy.

For egregious and non-responsive offenders, sure, you’re done. But if you’re willing to listen to community feedback and are committed to growing the network, I’d be inclined to vote in favor of a 2nd chance.

Open to other perspectives, however.
3 months ago
I agree in principle, but I don’t think that that applies here because the newsroom has not shown any intent to change their actions in order to address the concerns raised.
3 months ago
I agree in principle too, good intentions and respectful behavior are definitely values we want to encourage within the Civil community. However, imo accepting a media as a Newsroom should be very factual : does it or does it not respect the Constitution and journalistic ethics in the current state ? Admitting them as an act of good faith, hoping they’ll later change their content or policy to be conform doesn’t seem fair to other adequate candidates, and even less viable especially when we reach a certain volume of submissions. This is why a intermediary layer or maybe a forum to clear out doubts before the actual submission would be very profitable for such projects.

I agree with Benjamin, even if NP has provided clarifications to a certain extent, it has neither expressed the intent to change their actions nor acted in such direction. I see value in what Inkeun is bringing to Korea and I appreciate the time and efforts in answering the concerns raised, but to me it currently is too borderline ethically and legally to have a place as a Newsroom, so I’ll engage my vote against it.

3 months ago
Hi jer979, Benjamin, matei.

While I am waiting for the result of the vote, I guess it will be better to find other ways for NP to contribute to Civil’s mission or collaborate in somewhat different charter, i.e. Civil’s newsroom in other language.

I acknowledge that NP’s mission and operations are not aligned well with the requirement of the Civil’s newsroom charter and do not want to push further with making any exception for the case.

So let’s wait for the result and I will try to reflect on the next step for NP to contribute to Civil.

Thank you.

3 months ago
I have done a more careful review of the site as part of a collective of people who are trying to divide up the work of such reviews to make it more feasible to vet all newsrooms applying for and currently on the Civil platform.

I admit that I have had to rely on Google Translate to do this review, but it seems clear in your About section that you acknowledge what you are doing is not entirely ethical and is borderline illegal, in that you are translating and sharing articles without permission of the original authors or publications. You clearly acknowledge the potential illegality in your statement (per Google Translate) that “not all our lives have to be done on legal judgments”. I acknowledge that you might be providing a valuable service, especially as many of these publications are not translated into Korean. But the fact remains that your entire business model is based on the unethical retransmission of other people’s work without permission. It is hard for me to imagine a way you could make sufficient changes to the newsroom without taking down so much material that you would not have a newsroom left. But if such changes are made in a timely fashion, it might be possible for you to still be accepted to the Civil Registry. At this point, however, I would have no choice but to recommend a vote against your inclusion. I welcome any comments you might have.

3 months ago
Hi Reidob,
Thank you for your thoughts and suggestions.

First of all, can I ask which part of the About section did you review with Google Translate? If you followed the link of the interview we had with the Korean media, can you specify which part was it? Because as often the case, there are a lot of natural missing during the translation and Google Translate is still not near closing the gap. So I might want to explain the context and translate with more clear context for the part you quoted.

Also, as I mentioned before, I admit that some of the curation and translations are done with the clear permission from the source right holder as we wanted to position NP as a gateway platform to bridge Korean people with the media over the language barrier. And that is where we put the principle of ‘fair use’ as we interpreted that we do not seek any commercial revenue with the translation on NP itself and do not claim any rights for our work. I acknowledge it still stays in the grey area, but when asked, we have followed up with all the requests to take down the contents. While some media simple sent sort of cease and desist notice, the other media such as NYT and Coindesk saw the potential and build up cooperative project with us.

What I want to work within Civil is to extend that cooperative project with Civil community and newsrooms to bring quality contents and media to Korea. As I said, I understand it does not have to be done under the Civil Newsrooms hat, but applying for the Newsroom was seemingly available option for us.

3 months ago

Thank you for this. Even if you don’t seek direct compensation for translated articles, if your publication reproduces whole articles without permission, and seeks any revenues at all, it will likely violate US copyright laws.

Can you please be more specific about your exact arrangements with NYT and Coindesk? Please provide links to the correspondence or publish it here.

3 months ago
Hi mariabustillos,

Sorry for delayed response.

First of all, it is not a full translation. Some of them are full translations, others are translated summaries and curations added.

NYT reached out to us and we did a project together to test out Korean markets interest on NYT stories translated. We provided translation and copyediting to NYT. Articles we worked are still available here (

I took the role in launching Coindesk Korea by engaging in the negotiation between Coindesk and Hankyoreh, Korean media company, who purchased license from Coindesk to be partnering with and run Coindesk Korea. (

I believe NP worked more as a gateway or reputation base project for NYT and Coindesk, because when they researched Korean market’s demand and appetite, they were directed to NP for the quality curation and translation service that bring English-written contents effectivel to Korea.

Hope this would answer your question.
3 months ago
In the section News for Koreans but not in Korean, the following text come out of the Google Translate submission:

"Copyright: Good things can sometimes be illegal - I have mentioned the intellectual value and hard work of translating and “summarizing” foreign language articles, but in reality, it is controversial whether or not the translation and summary distribution of such original works within the scope of “fair use” I think. How do you judge? Now, the possibility of controversial reality is very small, but I am questioning how I can cope with the copyright infringement that may arise when ‘Newpea’ grows as a big medium. Yes. There is controversy. Copyright is a problem that we have been worrying about since we started. First of all, let me quote his opinion during an interview with Harvard Law School’s Professor Yo Hien Vencler . “There are two aspects to your work. First, is it illegal? Yes. At least in the US. If you write facts, it’s okay. However, if you summarize the article, it is classified as a derivative work, and is included in the scope protected by copyright law. Second, does it harm the New York Times? Not like that. Is that a bad thing? As long as you reveal that the article is from The New York Times, it is not a bad thing. It’s just illegal. Not all our lives have to be done on legal judgments. There is a great gap between reality and legal judgment, and we can enjoy great freedom in between. Your work belongs to this domain. Of course, if the New York Times is publishing an official Korean version, and you’re infringing on their interests, that would be a different problem.”

It seems to me from this revealing text that you not only engage in unethical and possibly illegal use of others’ work, but that you are aware that you are doing so and that it is, in fact, the backbone of your newsroom. As I said in my original comment, and as this quotation would seem to suggest, you may well be providing a valuable resource to those who do not read English: reading articles that these publications do not translate into Korean. But without explicit permission from those publications and clear attribution that they are used with that permission, your actions fall outside the realm of ethical conduct, in my opinion. No matter how well-intentioned you may be, and no matter if you acknowledge the sources of the original work, it still is not yours to freely use and therefore such use is unethical.

3 months ago
The fact this is all in Korean is proving a borderline insurmountable challenge for me to properly evaluate it, even with the help of Google Translate. So based on what I am able to understand from looking at the site and reading the comments so far related to this challenge, I will make three comments to contribute to the conversation:

  1. All third party content on this or any other site needs to be attributed to its original source. So, if it is not on NewsPeppermint (I believe it is, and consistently so?), it certainly needs to be for this to even be a conversation. The Constitution additionally requires:

“Verifying information before releasing it (including verifying third-party content)”

It is not clear to me that this is happening on NP. Inkeun says:

“But it is also our editor/translator’s input of explaining context, rephrasing terms into Korean to make them available for Korean readers.”

This feels like part of but not all of that job. I would like Inkeun to share either how they are already doing research to verify the accuracy of their third party sources, and/or how they will amend their process to do so. I would also like, if possible in English so I am completely clear on what I am evaluating, the distinction between merely translated aspects of NewsPeppermint’s posts and the ways and degree to which their internal editor is editing, adding to, or meaningfully contextualizing the content.

  1. There seems to be an initial concern about this site being a news aggregator, and a news aggregator not counting as journalism. The Civil Constitution does not specifically prohibit aggregation. Here is how it defines journalism for our purposes:

“Journalism can be defined as the the(sic) activities involved in an independent pursuit of accurate information about recent or current events. It can take many forms including audio, video, illustration, photography, data visualizations, animation and text; “straight” news reporting, features reporting, long-form narrative journalism, opinion writing, advocacy journalism and personal essays.”

While, if someone asked me, “Is a news aggregation site journalism?” I would probably say no. In light of this specific definition, though, I’m not so sure. Why is a person, with a specific audience and editorial agenda, curating content from a wide variety of sources, not journalism in the very specific language that Civil provides here? I am happy to have someone disabuse me of this notion. But strictly interpreting the activities of NP and the language of the Civil community, I actually lean toward these activities qualifying.

  1. The Constitution mentions “International Standards” with specificity at the end of section IV, sentiments found in other places between the preamble and the Constitution proper. Specifically:

“We recognize that some countries have varying norms when it comes to media, the press and privacy.”

I am a native English speaker and, indeed, like the stereotypical American, cannot read in any other foreign language beyond the most elementary of words. In that context, as a consumer of news, it is easy for me to find content that interests or is relevant to me. Well, what if my only language was Korean, not English? Assuming the editorial focus of NewsPeppermint was copacetic with my interests, it would be providing an invaluable service. It would be evaluating a world of information that us inaccessible to me and giving it to me in a consumable form. It is not immediately clear to me that this is so very different from, now putting on my journalist hat, my researching the topics and contexts I do and providing a combination of first-person interviews and original content to my audience. In both cases we are exploring spaces not easily accessible to our audience and bringing them to life.

Looking at it another way, in producing our show, Michael Hermes is part of our team. He is the audio engineer. He takes a lot of rough stuff and puts it together to sound good. He is, to my way of thinking, a journalist. Or, at least, he is certainly part of the journalism team, doing one of the important functions that brings the final content to our audience. In isolation, audio engineering feels less journalistic than news aggregation for a non-native speaking audience.

  1. In the preamble of the Constitution, Vivian Schiller the CEO of Civil writes:

“Should the Constitution be a ‘ceiling?’ Or a ‘floor?’ By which we mean: is it the minimal standard for newsrooms operating on Civil? Or should the Constitution be an aspirational document towards which newsrooms can aspire, even if they don’t currently meet all the criteria? In the end, we opted for a floor, meaning we wanted to create a big tent, not a bubble of only newsrooms that meet the strictest interpretation of journalistic ethics.”

I read this as a charter to be permissive. When in doubt, let them come. While my vanity may prefer an elitist community, both Civil’s own language and likely the common good are best-served by grace and inclusion, lacking obvious violations to the Constitution.

In conclusion, NewsPeppermint’s being entirely in Korean prevents me from reviewing it in a truly useful way. From my limited engagement with it, and in the context of the specific statements made on this platform including my own above, I’m not seeing a good reason to reject it - assuming my questions and requests in (1.) were answered and addressed in a satisfactory way. There may be various and sundry violations relating to other points in the Constitution that I am unaware of because of the language issue. I am commenting only on those things that have been raised in challenge or here, or perhaps the Slack as I may have read things there that are bleeding into my stuff here. Thanks.
3 months ago
Thank you for very thoughtful comments. I will get back to this soon with more detailed answers especially for your first question about the process of NP work.
3 months ago
Let me answer to your first question here.

So each article on NP ends with
(ooo, abc)
원문보기 with link embedded.

It is how we attribute credit to the original source that we curate from and translate in. (ooo is the media, abc is the author), 원문보기 is the link to the original text so that readers can find out the original text in English. We hope this also helps the traffic and attract more readers to the original source platform as well.

Our editorial guideline is not strict, meaning editors/translators are not required to do line-by-line translation. I rather encourage them to decompose and restructure the stories if they think doing that will help demystifying contents. What I meant by editor’s input plays a role was that some of the facts or contexts are irrelevant to Koreans while others need to be processed with more details. So I recommend to kindly bring explanations for the readers. But changing facts or tweak the argument of the original text is obviously not allowed. If the editor wants to add more explanations or offer background context, I also recommend to mark the part with a separate note so that readers can relate to the source texts and copy-edited parts.

To sum up, the readers of Newspeppermint are clearly aware that this story is somewhat derivative from the original source text, and there are curation parts while most of the lines have a base that translated from.

I want to add two more things.

There are though always this thing called natural loss in translation, so it is very difficult to draw the clear line between strict, line-by-line translation and liberal translation. Natural loss will be a familiar term for who is interested in NLP issues. So what I try to make sure is that the main argument and context of the story is well delivered in easy-written Korean language. It should not be 번역체(literal translated tone) as it brings down readability.

There have been so far about 15 editors in and out as all of them including myself did this for a voluntarily fashion, meaning we have not paid anything to the editors as we did not make any revenue from the NP contents. As an editor-in-chief, I appreicate each editor’s contributing voluntarily and try not to change or interrupt their copy-editing work as long as they make foul on the hard facts or arguments.

Hope this was helpful to address your question. Writing something not in my native language is always challenging and if you follow up with any clarifying question or additional question, I will be happy to try my best to get back to them.

Thank you.

3 months ago
So without further due, let me jump right on to the points.

  • News aggregator & News Curation service & Language barrier When you call Newspeppermint a news aggregator, you got it right. I would suggest though we consider one more critical layer here, the language barrier. Since language barrier between Korean and English is real and high enough, news curation does really matter to offer good quality contents. To be clear, it is not just an aggregation of news articles and stories because English is simply not available to Korean people. It is also not just a line-by-line translation. Google Translate will ultimately get us over the language barrier, but I don’t see that is the case for news consumption at least as of now.

We believed Korean people deserve a good quality content and great journalism, so we started up Newspeppermint and stepped in to make great contents accessible to Koreans by demystifying and curating contents. It is definitely still based on the original source text, and that’s why we make sure to credit each source at the end of each article. But it is also our editor/translator’s input of explaining context, rephrasing terms into Korean to make them available for Korean readers. One of the punch-lines that we used in the early days was “한국에는 없지만, 한국인에게 꼭 필요한 뉴스”. It means basically “We offer news which was not available for Koreans, but really matters to Koreans,” though Google Translate gives us “Not necessary in Korea, but necessary for Koreans”, which is somewhat misleading, as often it is.

To simply put, the stories we have on NP are the ones available nowhere else. If we find out the story had been worked out in Korean language somewhere else or if we are notified by the source text right holder that they already have presence in Korea to bring their contents and brand separately, or if we are told to simply stop including their contents, we have immediately taken down the stories. This leads to my next point of ‘fair use’ and ‘NP as a gateway platform into Korea.’

  • Sticking to the principle of ‘fair use’ and NP as a gateway platform for potential media partners. Early on in 2012 when we started up NP, we viewed ourselves as more of a team blog of translation and just introduce news lines for sharing. We had not thought of Newspeppermint as a service. But as time goes by, we found out that we actually had a traction as people have been thirsty of good contents to read and reflect themselves.

Around 2014, we repositioned NP as a news curation / translation service that we provide “한국에는 없지만, 한국인에게 꼭 필요한 뉴스”. It was when we also did research on how we should run the ‘service in system’ and learned the principle of the ‘fair use.’ We tried to label our curated stories as public goods rather than a proprietary work with strict right. We made sure to credit the source text and provide links to the media page so that readers know where to find out the source and explore. We tried to stay away from seeking any commercial revenue directly from the works on NP. So we have not put any ads on the website and we have not done any paid translation on the NP website.

We hoped NP to be considered as the gateway platform into Korean market for any global media outlets or companies who are interested in making or extending their presence within the region. We want Newspeppermint comes to their minds when it comes to the issue of news curation and translation with the expertise in localization.

  • New York Times / Coindesk Korea
    It gave confidence to us that NYT reached out to us first to see if we could collaborate to potentially build up NYT Korean edition. We have provided curation and translation of about 100 stories which is still available on NYT’s test page to the public. Though they end up not launching the Korean edition as they did Chinese or Spanish edition, it was their managerial decision and not about the quality of NP’s work.

Then Coindesk Korean is the current partner of NP and we work in the backend as a team of translator and curator as I participate in the discussion of article selection with CDK newsroom. Among Coindesk Korea’s stories, all the stories originally published in Coindesk and translated are the works done by NP. (I hope this would suffice the answer for the challenge additional details no.2)

  • Civil as a next partner? Newsroom charter fitness (Third party contents & First-person reporting issue)
    So let me go back to my initial concern that I was not 100% confident if NP would make a perfect fit for the Civil’s newsroom charter. As I touched on some details, and as some of you raised very solid points, I acknowledge that NP relies on the third party contents and may not be up to standard to satisfy the First-person reporting issue.

What I envisioned for NP to be a good citizen of Civil community was somewhat different than newsroom charter. If I may build up something from the scratch, I would call it “Civil’s certified partner for Korean edition”. I would see NP will be a certified curator / translator to bring Civil newsrooms’ quality contents into Korean. Covering cost part was somewhat open-ended for me since I was not going to ask to pay for translation from the beginning and open to community’s suggestion from launching subscription for Korean readers to searching for investors who have a faith in the independent journalism in Korea.

I agree with the challenge statement that it is important we set the decor about what is a Newsroom and what are the limits between journalism and related contents or services. Regardless of the result of the vote, NP will remain as a big supporter for the Civil and try to find out a better position or charter to help Civil pursue its mission. Since it seems, however, that registered as a newsroom will give us a room to reach out to other fellow newsroom, I still want to make the case for the community to consider Newspeppermint as a newsroom.

Thank you for the challenge and comments again. Hope to continue to have a great discussions.

Thank you.
3 months ago
First of all, I want to say that I think that the project that you are doing is very important and I like your project. However, on the other hand, I think that your newsroom is not appropriate in its current state for the Civil Registry given its reliance on third-party content. I think that your idea of translating Civil content into Korean (of course, with permission) would be an interesting way to participate in the community and serve it. Additionally, I think that producing Korean or English content alongside the translation services could make it compliant with the Constitution. In my mind, one way to do this would be to write articles reporting on how the media has been covering various issues, which would integrate well with translations of the reporting on those issues. This would still be somewhat reliant on third-party content, but I think that there would be enough original analysis for it to fulfill the spirit of the Constitution, if not the letter.
3 months ago
Hi Benjamin, thank you for the comments and suggestions.
3 months ago
Hi all,

My name is Inkeun Song and I am a co-founder and editor-in-chief of Newspeppermint. First of all, thank you for the challenges with a very thoughtful points raised. I also appreciate the comments and discussions followed.

Probably as many of you have been, I have been exploring the Civil community and tried to learn more about how Civil works and the newsrooms operate to get a better sense of what it is and how I could contribute to while I can take benefit from. I have to admit though that I was not 100% confident if Newspeppermint would make a perfect fit for the Civil’s newsroom registry. So let me walk you through some of the thoughts and visions I have had, which I should have provided more details with the application.

I am pulled up with Coindesk Korea project during the day, but I will make sure to get back to provide explanations and thoughts behind our registry not too late.

I just wanted to leave a note that I have read challenges and comments very carefully and working on the response.
3 months ago
I have discovered (the challenger probably already knew this) that if you highlight the title link and enter it into Google, it will offer to translate it for you. This does appear to be entirely a news aggregation site. I am having trouble, though, finding the reference to partnering with media outlets to pay for translation. There is a lot of text to dig through and have Google translate.

3 months ago
I believe this reference comes from the Charter, ‘Current or intended revenue sources’… Google translated quite a bit too and in the last post of their blog part (dating March/18), they also write : “News Peppermint promised to translate English articles from Coin Desk into Korean and provide them to Coin Desk Korea.” This could be one of the partnerships, but no further explanation is provided about it.
3 months ago
Hmmm…is there by any chance someone who reads Korean who can help us here? It is very difficult to formulate a response without actually being able to read the content. I’m thrilled that newsrooms in other languages want to be on Civil, but it does present a unique challenge for governance.

3 months ago
Initially reading this, I had similar concerns, but I do not read Korean, so I did not raise a challenge. However, I agree with the challenger that the concept of this newsroom seems to be intrinsically dependent on third-party content.