July 26, 2011
With over 48 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, the content is becoming unwieldy. Speaking on a panel at Chicago’s TechWeek on Saturday, YouTube’s head of news and politics Steve Grove explained how YouTube is trying to organize the clutter–including YouTube Trends, which aggregates popular videos.
“We think this could become the YouTube homepage,” announced Grove, noting that YouTube Trends currently lives on Blogger. The blog-format site also features “4 at 4,” four hot videos posted at 4 a.m. and 4 p.m. and available by email. Grove said that “4 at 4” is interesting for everyone but designed for TV producers.
This is only one of the ways YouTube is targeting the media. While the 2008 CNN-YouTube presidential debates helped every day citizens participate in politics, YouTube has launched various initiatives that help everyone participate in news–or, more accurately, that provide needed content to understaffed and underfunded news organizations.
To make newsworthy videos easier to find, CitizenTube aggregates content on current events, like the Mumbai bombings in July. As part of this “B2B play,” Grove said, YouTube encourages users to tag videos by location.
A YouTube guide for media recommends that reporters browse the most-viewed videos on YouTube Charts. In a lull, these videos could spur a humorous story on the latest viral sensation. Or, YouTube could function as a public opinion forum, “a whole other layer of man-on-the-street perspectives,” explained Grove. In other words, whereas reporters would usually hit the streets to understand the public’s perspective, they could instead search YouTube and find videos, like tributes to the late Amy Winehouse.
If reporters don’t want to comb through YouTube videos, there’s also YouTube Direct: a video platform integrated on their site to solicit citizen reporting, which has been used by media including the Huffington Post and Al Jazeera.
While these options can provide needed content, the accuracy of that content is more uncertain–reporters don’t know whether the video was filmed years ago or in a different location, or whether it’s been edited. And with strict deadlines, they don’t always have much time to verify. I think the best result might be media leveraging YouTube to find regular, trusted freelance contributors.
Whatever role YouTube ends up playing in the news, changes are clearly in the works for viewers–keep an eye on the homepage.
Photo of Steve Grove by Michael O’Donnell.
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