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YouTube Emerges as New Platform for News

News events now account for one-third of the most-searched for terms on YouTube, a site often originally thought of as a place where people posted personal videos. A 15-month study finds more than a third (39%) of most-watched video news was produced by citizens who witnessed breaking news.


  1. The most popular news videos on YouTube tended to depict natural disasters or political upheaval--usually featuring intense visuals.  For example, this video, below, taken from a surveillance video at the Sendai airport in Japan, was the most-viewed video on YouTube in 2011, with more than 20 million views.
  2. Japan earthquake: CCTV video of tsunami wave hitting Sendai airport
  3. The second biggest news storyline on YouTube during the 15 months studied was the Russian parliamentary and presidential elections. A 50-second fake news clip posted in February used special effects to make it appear as if Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was on trial for corruption and terrorism. 
  4. ‪‪Арест Владимира Путина: репортаж из зала суда‬‬
  5. While pop stars often receive millions of hits for their videos and interviews on YouTube, the lure of personality was far less of a draw for news and political videos. Fully 65% of the most watched news videos did not feature any individual. President Obama figured in more of the popular videos than any other individual, like this video below, where the president sings a line from a song by Al Green.
  6. Raw Video: Obama Sings Al Green
  7. But even Kim Jung Il, the late North Korean leader, posthumously had his moment. A video captured during the ceremonies sparked debate about whether the mourners actually felt sad over the death or whether the North Korean government shaped the clips to promote a certain perspective.
  8. North Koreans weeping hysterically over the death of Kim Jong-il
  9. The media took notice of the PEJ report and hundreds of news sites reported on the findings on the day of the release.
  10. Pew Study: More Viewers Choose YouTube for Breaking News
  11. Pew: YouTube Represents New Kind Of “Visual Journalism”
  12. Citizen Journalism On YouTube Revolutionizes The Way We Consume News
  13. You don’t have to convince us at Storyful that YouTube is a pillar of new journalism, but even we were a little awestruck by the findings of a new survey from the Pew Research Center.
  14. Some journalists, like Raju Narisetti @rajunarisetti, Managing Editor of the Wall Street Journal Digital Network, commented on what newsrooms could learn from the findings. 
  15. That the prevalence of cell phone cameras is creating a huge shift toward user-generated news content is hardly news in itself, but the Pew study turns up some interesting numbers about which videos gain the most traction with viewers.
  16. Not only is the way we're watching television changing, so is the way we're consuming news.  
  17. Others drew attention to the levity these findings bring to the platform, broadening its appeal beyond entertainment, personal videos and cat euphoria..
  18. While YouTube is largely regarded as a haven for cat videos, it appears that more and more users are turning to the Google-owned site for news footage.