Knight Center
Knight Center

JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

YouTube emerges as major news source, Pew study shows



YouTube has turned into an important source for viewing news, creating a "new kind of visual journalism," according to a new report from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, released Monday, July 16.

From January 2011 to March 2012 (the length of the study), the most-searched term of the month on YouTube was related to a news event for five of the 15 (one-third) months studied, according to the Economic Times, which indicates that "at any given moment news can outpace even the biggest entertainment videos," the report said.

The study also highlighted the role of citizen journalists in capturing news footage and posting it to YouTube, as more than a third of the most-watched videos came from citizens, reported the Associated Press. Citizens also actively shared a good number of news videos originally produced by news organizations (39 percent), illustrating "that a complex, symbiotic relationship has developed between citizens and news organizations on YouTube, a relationship that comes close to the continuous journalistic 'dialogue' many observers predicted would become the new journalism online," the report said.

Other findings from the study show that the average link of the most-popular news videos was two minutes and one second long, most YouTube traffic (70 percent) comes from outside the United States, and the three most-popular news events came from outside the United States (the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, elections in Russia, and unrest in the Middle East).

Of course, as the Washington Post pointed out, no matter how popular the news videos on YouTube are, entertainment still reigns: the most-watched video of 2011 was "Friday," a pop song by 13-year-old Rebecca Black.

PC Magazine also noted that the study reveals that "clear ethical standards have not developed on how to attribute" YouTube videos, creating 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."



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