With the majority of media organisations incorporating social media into its reporting, it's easy to forget that among Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, there's another prominent news source that's growing in popularity between reporters and regular users: YouTube.
A new study from the Pew Research Centre's Project for Excellence in Journalism released its examination of 15 months of the most popular videos on the site. It found that while viewership for TV news still easily outpaces those consuming news on YouTube, the site is a growing digital environment where both professional and citizen journalism feature prominently.
Both have developed a relationship as citizens are creating their own videos about news and posting them while also actively sharing videos produced by journalism professionals. Also, news organisations are using citizen content and incorporating it into their reports, creating a new type of reporting.
Of the most watched videos on the site, 39% came from citizens, while 51% came from news organisations. In official videos made by the press, footage in these videos sometimes incorporated footage shot by YouTube users; 58% involved footage that had been edited, but 42% contained raw footage.
The most popular news videos tend to depict natural disasters or political upheaval, with the Japanese earthquake and tsunami being the most popular story covered on the site. The elections in Russia, unrest in the Middle East, the collapse of a fair stage in Indiana and the crash of an Italian cruise ship were also popular news events.
The deputy director of the project, Amy Mitchell said: "There's a new form of video journalism on this platform. It's a form in which the relationship between news organisation and citizens is more dynamic and more multi-verse than we've seen in most other platforms before."
The Pew Research Center for Excellence in Journalism examined 15 months' worth of the most popular news videos on the site, covering January 2011 to March 2012. The study looked at around 260 different videos, these videos featured on the five most-viewed videos each week located in YouTube's 'news & politics' channel. These videos were analysed by identifying the nature of the video, the topics that were viewed most often, who produced them and who posted them.
The report also noted that clear ethical standards on how to attribute the video content haven't developed. While YouTube offers guidelines, not everyone follows them and news organisations sometimes post content without any clear attribution as to who produced or uploaded it. The problem is that it creates the opportunity for news to be manufactured, or even falsified without giving audiences an opportunity to find out who produced it or verify it.
One of the most popular videos to feature involved the Japan earthquake. CCTV footage showing the tsunami wave hitting Sendai airport has obtained 20 million views since it was first posted in March 11th, 2011.