By: Jefferson Marshall
When most people think of YouTube the first thing that comes to mind is cats playing the keyboard, little kids falling off their bikes or youths juju-ing on that beat. However, YouTube has become more than just a site for entertainment. It has become a large outlet for news and even a bigger tool for established journalists to broadcast their stories. While giving novice storytellers a chance to get their feet wet in the journalistic industry.
The video streaming site has evolved immensely in its 12-year history. Starting with a video called “Me at the Zoo” uploaded April 23rd 2005. That was the very first video to be posted on YouTube, which featured a guy standing in front of an elephant closure at his local zoo talking about how cool elephant’s trunks are. A year later, the site was bought by Google for $1.65-billion. Today, YouTube has become a media juggernaut. As of February 2017, YouTube was ranked the second most popular site by a web traffic analysis company called Alexa Internet. YouTube alone averages 400 hours of content uploaded every minute and one billion hours of content viewed each day.
“[YouTube] has become the modern-day library,” said TSN Hockey panel host James Duthie.
“I bet [the creators of YouTube] didn’t envision that it would become this, because it’s become an infinite resource of material.”
The News & Politics section on YouTube displays all recent videos uploaded by different news outlets around the world like USA Today, Reuters, and CBC.
Above all else, the video hosting site has permanently left its mark on the world of journalism. It is now essential for every journalist to have their own account to keep their catalog updated.
For journalists to be able to upload their news pieces and material on their person YouTube accounts without needing a news platform to distribute their content is a major key for them. Especially when Canada shares the most online videos out of any country in the world, it broadens their chances to be noticed.
“In the idea of establishing yourself, you want to go where the audience is and the audience is increasingly in social media platforms in places like YouTube,” said David Common a CBC reporter and the host of CBC’s radio show World Report.
“We want to take the same kind of work we’ve have done for a very long time: the idea of storytelling which can go back to days of cave drawings and just bring it back to where people want to consume it.” Said Common who also has a personal YouTube account showcasing his catalogue.
Not only is YouTube a tool for established journalist, but it is very useful for people who want to put their foot in the door of the industry early in their career.
Matthew Henriques is one of these inspiring journalists looking to get in the field as soon as he can. Not only does he distribute articles on his blog “Canadia Hockey” but he also puts out content on his YouTube channel where he shares his opinions and insight on today’s happenings in the realm of hockey. He believes his videos gives him the upper hand in comparison to other up-and-coming journalists in a very competitive industry.
“I feel like YouTube is such an important tool especially for a hockey YouTuber like me to get my name out there,” said Henriques who’s currently a third-year Communications student at York University.
“With the professional connections I’ve made too. It makes me say YouTube is great and my blog showcases my work as well, it just goes hand-in-hand,”
However, it’s not always sunshine and rainbows.
YouTube comments will always be filled with people hiding behind the keyboard willing to spread negativity no matter how good the actual video is. So, users should always be ready to take criticism.
“You’ll always have people saying you don’t know anything, what are you doing, this is a crappy video and you’ll also get people who are like man I don’t know how you don’t have more subscribers right now these are great videos.” Henriques added.
“But it’s still a great medium to present yourself and show off your ideas.”
Even North American media giants have felt the affects of the predominant rise of YouTube. News Corporation CEO Rupert Murdoch has stated in the past that it has become much more difficult to persuade public opinion now with the presence of YouTube.
The site is not just being used by individual journalists; entire media outlets have joined in on the fun. Today, hundreds of news outlets around the globe have a YouTube partnership, meaning that it the channel receives money through the amount of views and subscriptions they draw, while also collecting many perks like additional promotion from YouTube itself. TSN happens to be one of the many outlets the utilize their YouTube partnership.
“I think [news outlets] realized that people digest information much differently now. The days of people just getting their information solely from TSN or CNN are long gone,” said Duthie
“There’s an entire of generation that would go to YouTube before they would go to the television and watch a specific channel and it’s a common business practice to try and reach the most people as possible.”
To take advantage of what the site has to offer, one has to be willing to show their face to the world and be prepared to be seen by hundreds, thousands, and if the user is really lucky: millions. A feeling that music reviewing YouTuber Dazhiell Belford knows all too well.
“I’m always wondering if I look stupid or not,” said Belford a Media Studies student at the University of Guelph-Humber
“There were moments where I was like ‘should I look in the camera or should I not look into the camera’ and you don’t want to fake your reaction either so a lot of stuff get’s cut out.” stated Belford who is also trying to bolster his catalogue with his channel.
With YouTube being a phenomenon on the World Wide Web it seems like nothing can extinguish its popularity. However, the same could have been said years ago about MySpace. So, will news outlets and their journalist have to look elsewhere to show-off their content in a couple years?
“There’s no question in my mind that YouTube is among a very select number [of social media sites] in the top tier,” said Common
“But Facebook is very powerful and has its own video live which is competition to YouTube.”
For now, the site is steady. YouTube alone averages 1 billion active users a month which is one-third of all people on the internet. So, to say YouTube is thriving is an understatement, but the power the site possesses as a tool for journalists and news outlets alike should never be underestimated.