July 27, 2012

YouTube as a Major Platform for News Videos

Amy Mitchell, Deputy Director of the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, answers questions about PEJ’s report on the emergence of YouTube as a major platform for viewing news. She was interviewed by Lesley Lanir of the website, Digital Journal. The full article and interview can be found here. You can also view a video presentation of the report by Amy Mitchell.

Lesley Lanir: Why do you think people are turning to YouTube for News videos?

Amy Mitchell: The YouTube platform offers a new form of video journalism. Individuals can bear witness to events in a new and powerful way. As with other social and web-based media it also allows people to watch these moments on their own agenda, and to share them with others.

LL: Are you surprised at the type of news videos being viewed?

AM: There is a wide variety of videos in the mix of most viewed across these 15 months. In some cases they are major international events that were also covered heavily in the mainstream media. But in other cases, they demonstrate the way that as in blogs and other social media more obscure events can quickly gather massive interest. One element that was rather consistent was the event be centered around events rather than people – which supports the idea of bearing witness to events. Fully 65% of the videos studied did not feature any one individual.

LL: Are you surprised at the types of videos available, the quality, etc.

AM: One finding that stood out was the complex interplay between citizens and news organizations. All stages of the process — capture, production, posting — the data show both citizens and news organizations involved in different ways depending on the video and the news events. There is also a solid mix of raw footage and edited, with citizens and news organizations offering a mix of both.

LL: Do you think adding a video enhances interest and pumps up views no matter what the news story?

AM: It is unwise to make vast generalizations like that. Certainly certain events are more visually oriented than others and there are hundreds and thousands of videos that attract very few viewers. That said, more and more, producers of information are thinking about a multi-media approach, using all four methods of consuming information: visual, audio, text-based and graphical.

LL: Do you think more people in the future would rather watch videos than news on TV?

AM: Again, I would prefer not to answer such general questions like that. Network news offers something different than videos on YouTube and there are still somewhere around 20 million people watching network evening news daily.

Cite this publication: Tom Rosentiel. “YouTube as a Major Platform for News Videos.” Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C. (July 27, 2012) http://www.pewresearch.org/2012/07/27/ask-the-expert-youtube-as-a-major-platform-for-news-videos/, accessed on July 23, 2014.