Public Relations Tactics

Shareable content: Will YouTube change the news?

September 4, 2012

DirecTV and Viacom fought publicly over programming profitability in June. Meanwhile, Microsoft and NBC dissolved their MSNBC union.

At the same time, however, YouTube and similar online video sharing sites are amassing millions of viewers with relevant news content.

All broadcasters need to watch and address this proliferating trend.

According to YouTube’s data, in five of the 15 months between January 2011 and March 2012, the most-searched term on the site was related to news.

Pew Research analyzed YouTube’s numbers during this period and found that news videos can significantly outpace the cumulative views of some viral entertainment videos.

In the week following the 2011 Japanese earthquake, the 20 most-watched YouTube news videos generated 96 million views.

Traditional news organizations need to compete with YouTube while seeking opportunities to leverage functionality and reach within their own content strategies.

Creating relationships

Global events trigger massive viewer spikes as people turn to the Web for real-time and on-demand news.

Digital journalism patterns are fostered by collaborative relationships between news organizations, their audiences and citizen journalists who share or create content. News organizations develop and post their own content online, citizen journalists develop and post theirs, and each group borrows from the other.

More than a third of the most-watched videos in Pew’s YouTube study came from private users, and 39 percent of the videos that news sites originally produced users posted rather than the organizations themselves.

Edited content was also popular. News organizations edited 65 percent of their videos and private users edited 39 percent of theirs. In some instances raw footage, such as surveillance videos of natural disasters, received millions of views.

Broadening broadcast news

YouTube is the third-most visited site behind Google (which owns YouTube) and Facebook. It has become the de facto visual news platform, and now others like Vimeo and Ustream are becoming players too.

YouTube’s partner program, which offers content creators revenue sharing incentives, has more than 1 million members that include ABC, CBS and NBC. The program’s success suggests networks want to evolve with technology.

CNN manages a YouTube channel with more than 55 million views in addition to its own iReport citizen journalist community, effectively blending YouTube participation with original online initiatives.

CNN’s iReports allows viewers to file reports containing text, audio, photos and video. The network provides guidelines and themed assignments for iReporters who submit about 500 iReports daily. Stories that CNN vets, approves and tags accordingly may appear in broadcasts or be supplemented with additional context.

While mobile technology empowers journalists and citizens to capture and share news, it is becoming a distribution battleground. In August,  Apple announced its iOS operating system would no longer include YouTube as a built-in app, signaling that it may develop a video sharing system of its own.

More lockouts, breakups and exclusives are sure to emerge as the media landscape shifts in response to emerging technology trends.  As communicators, we need to monitor this evolution.

Ryan Zuk, APR
Ryan Zuk, APR, is a media and analyst relations professional, Phoenix PRSA Chapter member and Sage North America representative. Zuk can be reached @ryanzuk on Twitter. He also blogs at
Email: ryanzuk at gmail dot com


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