YouTube Emerging As Important Source For News
July 16, 2012

YouTube Emerging As Important Source For News

Lawrence LeBlond for - Your Universe Online

Reporting the world´s news is big business and many large news corporations work tirelessly to get their stories out to the world, yet with no reporters, no high-tech equipment, and no satellite feeds, one company is emerging as a significant and important source for news, quickly catching up to networks such as Fox News, according to a new report released by the Pew Research Center.

Founded in 2005, video-hosting website YouTube has grown from a fledgling source for cute kitty videos amateur content uploads to a major source for reporting news, drawing a strong audience base with its creative “visual journalism,” making it an important information provider in today´s market.

Pew Research Center´s Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) found that in five of the past 15 months, up to the first quarter of 2012, the most searched term on YouTube was a news-related event. The report, released on Monday, found that while TV news viewership still outpaces the news consumed on YouTube, the video-hosting site is quickly growing with more videos being uploaded by professional journalists looking for more ways to reach the masses.

“There's a new form of video journalism on this platform,” Amy Mitchell, deputy director of the PEJ, told The Associated Press. “It's a form in which the relationship between news organizations and citizens is more dynamic and more multiverse than we've seen in most other platforms before.”

The PEJ study found that the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan received the largest viewership on YouTube in the seven days following the tragedy. The research group said that the 20 most viewed news-related videos on YouTube all focused on the disaster, and were viewed more than 96 million times.

The study also found that more than a third of the most-watched news videos on YouTube came from amateur sources, which is really no big surprise since the site is almost exclusively used by amateurs.

While most of the footage was recorded by amateur eyewitnesses, a lot of material was also posted by news organizations -- although many had not credited the footage as such. Perhaps one reason is that YouTube´s guidelines on attribution are often not being followed, which raises issues of authenticity.

“News organizations sometimes post content that was apparently captured by citizen eyewitnesses without any clear attribution as to the original producer. Citizens are posting copyrighted material without permission. And the creator of some material cannot be identified,” according to Pew. “All this creates the potential for news to be manufactured, or even falsified, without giving audiences much ability to know who produced it or how to verify it.”

Pew found that more than half (58 percent) of the most-viewed videos on YouTube involved footage that had been edited, and 39 percent of the videos posted by amateur citizens rather than news organizations was also edited.

“This is a young platform and there're certainly aspects of this interplay and the way information is going to flow that's still being worked out,” added Mitchell.

Another budding news organization, Russia Today, also launched in 2005 and backed by the Russian government, has been a popular source for video news, although it often reports rumor. The site produced 22 of the 260 most popular news videos, most surrounding the events of the Russian presidential election.

The second most-viewed news organization among the top videos was Fox News, although the study pointed out that more than half of those videos were posted in criticism of the network.

But the popularity of news viewed on YouTube shouldn´t be too surprising, given the site´s global reach. It is the third-most visited site on the Internet, behind search giant Google (which purchased the video sharing site in 2006) and social networking titan Facebook, according to research company Netcraft.

YouTube has more than 4 billion video views per day, about a third of which come from the US, PEJ said.

But as popular as news videos have become on YouTube, they still do not rival the entertainment videos found on the site. The most-watched video in 2011 was 13-year-old Rebecca Black´s music video “Friday,” which received more than 180 million views. The most-watched video of all time is Justin Bieber´s “Baby” video, which has been viewed more than 755 million times since it was posted two years ago.

The full report can be viewed at Pew Research Center´s Project for Excellence in Journalism.