Member Sign In or Register
Study:YouTube emerging as a news platform for many users
Study:YouTube emerging as a news platform for many users
By: Sneha Bokil-Paranjape

With humorous gags and funny videos, YouTube is undoubtedly the power packed source of entertainment. But, according to a recent study YouTube has got much more than dancing cats and cute babies on its platter.

According to a new report from the Pew Research Center more and more users are turning to the Google-owned site for news footage."YouTube is becoming a major platform for viewing news. There's a new form of video journalism on this platform," said Amy Mitchell, Deputy Director of the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. 

The Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism released their examination of 15 months of the most popular news videos on YouTube. 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. During the period between Jan. 2011 and March 2012, news-related terms topped search queries during five of the 15 months.

The percentage of Internet users who use video-sharing sites climbed from 33% in 2006 to 66% in 2010 and citizens played a substantial role in producing and supplying the footage. Thirty nine per cent of the most-watched news videos in 2011-12 came from citizens. And 61% of this was raw footage.

That the prevalence of cell phone cameras is creating a huge shift toward user-generated news content is hardly news in itself, but the Pew study turns up some interesting numbers about which videos gain the most traction with viewers. In the period under survey, the Japanese earthquake and tsunami was No. 1 with 5% of all the 260 videos watched, followed by elections in Russia (5%) and unrest in the Middle East (4%).

Natural disasters and political upheavals were the most popular news video topics. After the earthquake/tsunami, the Russian elections and the unrest in the Middle East topped news-related video views, Pew said.

The advent of YouTube has changed the game. Footage is becoming more potent because of this platform. It makes shots of a dead Muammar Gadhafi or a Saddam Hussein going viral possible.

As Pew noted, the growth of news videos on YouTube has been a help and a hindrance to traditional news outlets. Media organizations sometimes supplement their broadcasts with citizen-captured footage, but it is also another medium with which they must compete.

"One of the things that emerge here is the power of bearing witness as a part of a news consumption process," said Mitchell. "Many of the most viewed stories that we're looking at here have real powerful imagery around them."

Of the videos examined by Pew, about 39 percent were from citizens, while 51 percent had a news organization logo. Edited footage was a bit more popular than raw footage at 58 percent to 42 percent, Pew found.

"The data reveal 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."

In news on YouTube, so-called citizen reports represented 39 percent of videos. Some 51 percent bore the logo of a news organization, but some of that footage appeared to have been originally shot by users rather than journalists.

Google bought YouTube in 2006 for $1.65 billion. According to the company’s own statistics, more than 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. The site gets over four billion video views a day.

The Mountain View, California-based Internet search and advertising giant has not yet announced a profit for the video-sharing site despite its massive global popularity.

YouTube has been gradually adding professional content such as full-length television shows and movies to its vast trove of amateur video offerings in a bid to attract advertisers.