YouTube: The future of news.

by Colin McGuire. 0 Comments

In the week following an eathquake in northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011, the 20 most viewed news videos on YouTube — most of them posted by people who lived through the quake, mind you — were looked at more than 96 million times, which is approximately 95,999,999 more times than this blog is typically viewed on a daily basis. In 2011 and the first part of this year, the most searched-for videos on the site were news-related for five out of the 15 months considered. And what did the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism learn from all this? Among other things …

– The most popular news videos tended to depict natural disasters or political upheaval-usually featuring intense visuals. With a majority of YouTube traffic (70%) outside the U.S., the three most popular storylines worldwide over the 15-month period were non-U.S. events. The Japanese earthquake and tsunami was No. 1 (and accounted for 5% of all the 260 videos), followed by elections in Russia (5%) and unrest in the Middle East (4%).

– News events are inherently more ephemeral than other kinds of information, but at any given moment news can outpace even the biggest entertainment videos. In 2011, news events were the most searched term on YouTube four months out of 12, according to YouTube’s internal data: the Japanese Earthquake, the killing of Osama bin Laden, a fatal motorcycle accident, and news of a homeless man who spoke with what those producing the video called a “god-given gift of voice.” Yet over time certain entertainment videos can have a cumulative appeal that will give them higher viewership.

And the biggest, most important finding of them all …

– “To Rome With Love” doesn’t suck.

OK. So, maybe the people there found only two of those three things.

And — lucky you! — to find out which one of those three things is something they didn’t conclude, you can simply click here. There’s a whole lot more to digest. No, honestly. There’s something like five more bullet points to read. Yes. FIVE MORE. The use of the ALL CAPS button is for emphasis.

To break it all down, though, we now turn to the fine people at the Associated Press. From Jake Coyle …

“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,” he wrote. “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.”

Whew. We could have gotten that out of the way a lot sooner in this post, eh?

 As it turns out, that’s not the only citizen-produced news video to be viewed eight bagillion times. Other leading videos were the collapse of a stage at an Indiana fair last year, that pesky sinking Italian cruise ship we all remember from months ago, and, of course, the uprising in the middle east. In short, more and more people continue to turn to the Internet for their news consumption, while other 24-hour news channels are beginning to sink like that Italian cruise ship.

Thus the question must be asked: Are we as a society tired of what has become consistently slanted news deliveries, whether it be from the left or from the right? Political ideology has completely transformed the once-reputable profession of journalism into a party-divided realm for rich white people to yell about how awful America is. Does this play into the notion that more and more people are turning to their InterWebs to see the unedited, raw footage from said news events, just to be sure they are getting the news unfiltered?

Maybe. Or, of course, this could all be because of smartphones, you know.

Hey — it could go either way.

“One of the things that emerges here is the power of bearing witness as a part of a news consumption process,” Amy Mitchell, deputy director of the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, told the AP. “Many of the most viewed stories that we’re looking at here have real powerful imagery around them.”

Longing for numbers? How about these …

More than 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, says Netcraft, a British research service. YouTube receives more than four billion views a day. And finally, in 2001, it was found that 71 percent of adults have used either YouTube or Vimeo at some point in their lives, a number that is up from the 66 percent found in 2010.

YouTube: Your new Wolf Blitzer replacement. Grab on to your hats, friends. The future is now.

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