A new study has found that YouTube has become a major platform for news, one where viewers are turning for eyewitness videos in times of major events and natural disasters.
The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism on Monday released their examination of 15 months of the most popular news videos on the Google Inc.-owned site. It found that while viewership for TV news still easily outpaces those consuming news on YouTube, the video-sharing site is a growing digital environment where professional journalism mingles with citizen content.
More than a third of YouTube’s most-watched videos came from citizens. Than more half came from news organizations, but footage in those videos sometimes incorporated footage shot by YouTube users.
The results depicted both reasons for concern and encouragement for traditional news outlets. While citizen journalism accounts for a large slice of viewership on YouTube, its users are also eager distributers of professional news video. The study shows YouTube as a global news arena where professional and amateur video bleed together, and is made consumable in on-demand style.
That kind of atmosphere also makes for issues of authenticity. Though YouTube has guidelines for news video, they aren’t always followed and some videos go viral despite uncertain sources.
“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,” said Mitchell.
A relatively nascent new organization, Russia Today, a network founded in 2005 and backed by the Russian government that often reports rumor, had easily the most videos among the most-viewed. 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.