According to a study by the The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, YouTube is becoming “a growing digital environment where professional journalism mingles with citizen content.” It seems much like how Blogs have helped create the explosion of “citizen journalists” and the like, YouTube is turning into another avenue where this form of journalism (if that is what you’d like to call it) is expanding. YouTube is proving to be an invaluable resource for many individuals seeking first-hand video accounts of things like natural disasters and other high-profile news events. In a way, YouTube is kind of working like Twitter. People are able to quickly upload footage of events at a close to real-time capacity, with little to no editing, to present relevant footage. These “news” videos are like the video version of a Tweet. Also, many news outlets are now taking footage that has been directly uploaded to YouTube by normal citizen users and using that footage in official news videos. As people turn to YouTube videos as a news source, and news sources use YouTube users’ videos, the distinction between professional journalism and citizen journalism further blurs.
I personally think YouTube is a great source to supplement individual’s need for more news and current event-related videos. The ability we now have to access footage of first-hand accounts of events from multiple sources is quite amazing.
*UPDATE – I’m watching CNN right now. A number of top Syrian officials were just killed by a rebel bomb blast. All the video footage CNN is showing is labeled as “YouTube/Amateur Footage” and shows us on-the-scene vantage points of the building on fire and the aftermath of the bomb through shaky handheld cameras. All this footage is being produced by normal citizens, adding to the growing nature of “citizen journalism” (even though these individuals taking the videos and pictures probably don’t necessarily consider themselves as journalists). All of this is an example of the growing presence of YouTube and amateur video in the news and the importance of it. The unprecedented amount of video, audio and photographic evidence we have access to for events that are occurring in real-time is groundbreaking. Take this Syrian bombing story for example. Before the advent of YouTube and easy-access to amateur video online, news outlets would generally not have any video/audio/photographic evidence in a real-time format (or even at all) for something such as this unless they had proactively set up a film crew in the area and anticipated an event beforehand. That, however, is an extremely difficult thing to do with most news events, especially ones related to disaster and violence. In this case, YouTube videos are feeding directly into the story being carried by major news outlets. As viewers, we are seeing events occur and unfold in a much more timely manner than ever before thanks to websites like YouTube.