The rise of YouTube as a news platform PDF Print E-mail

New research by the Pew Research Centre's Project for Excellence in Journalism has found that YouTube is growing in importance as a serious source of news.

Pew Research examined 15 months' worth (260 videos) of the most popular news videos on YouTube from January 2011 to March 2012. The researchers identified the five most-viewed videos each week under the “New and Politics” channel.

“In 2011 and early 2012, the most searched term of the month on YouTube was a news-related event five out of 15 months,” says the report.

“The data reveal that a complex, symbiotic relationship has developed between citizens and news organisations on YouTube, a relationship that comes close to the continuous journalistic 'dialogue' many observers predicted would become the new journalism online.”

A key trend is the rise of citizen-created and posted news videos, as well as the active sharing of news videos produced by professional journalists. “And news organisations are taking advantage of citizen content and incorporating it into their journalism. Consumers, in turn, seem to be embracing the interplay in what they watch and share, creating a new kind of television news,” says Pew Research.

A considerable portion (39%) of the most watched videos came from citizens themselves, while 51% had the logo of a news organisation. Although it is noted that even some of the footage in official news videos was originally shot by users rather than journalists. A further 39% of videos originally produced by news outlets were posted to YouTube by users rather than the news outlets themselves.

According to the findings, the most popular news videos depicted natural disasters or political upheaval. The most popular news events watched on YouTube were the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, followed by the elections in Russia, and the unrest in the Middle East.

In the week following the Japanese disaster (11-18 March), the 20 most viewed news-related videos on YouTube that were focused on the tragedy were viewed more than 96 million times.

While Pew Research acknowledges that the majority of people still watch conventional TV news, news viewership on YouTube is undoubtedly on the rise. “YouTube is a place where consumers can determine the news agenda for themselves and watch the videos at their own convenience – a form of 'on-demand' video news.”

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