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YouTube Direct Launched to Bolster Citizen Journalism

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YouTube (s goog) has launched a new tool, called YouTube Direct, that aims to connect news organizations with citizen journalists producing web video.

Built on YouTube APIs, the tool will provide an easy way for news agencies to collect and broadcast clips that users submit for review. By adding a customizable upload button to their web pages, those organizations can solicit user-produced videos on a variety of subjects.

YouTube Direct provides another advantage for cash-strapped media companies: Because all videos are hosted on the YouTube site, participating companies don’t have to go through the trouble of building out the infrastructure required to ingest, encode, store and distribute videos that have been uploaded.

Already, YouTube has received interest from news organizations such as The Huffington Post, NPR, Politico, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Washington Post for the service.

NPR, for instance, is soliciting user videos that run from 30 seconds to 3 minutes in length for its crowdsourced WonderScope science series. To participate, users can submit videos directly through NPR’s web site, and those that make the cut will be added to the official NPR YouTube channel.

Meanwhile, Politico is asking its readers to submit clips (2 minutes or less) for Project Politico, a program that encourages debate based on a new question each day.  And the San Francisco Chronicle is using YouTube Direct to solicit videos of street performers throughout the city.

The new service will provide a counter to some existing citizen journalist tools, such as CNN’s iReport. The iReport program, which was initially launched in 2006, took off earlier this year as videos flooded into the news agency detailing the political protests in Iran.

YouTube says it’s not asking for any compensation from companies that use the service, but it is using YouTube Direct as a way to increase the number of videos that are uploaded to the site. The video site also suggests that the service has applications outside of newsgathering.

In a blog post, Steve Grove, YouTube’s head of news and politics, writes:

“Businesses can use YouTube Direct to solicit promotional videos, nonprofits can use the application to call-out for support videos around social campaigns and politicians can use the platform to ask for user-generated political commercials. The opportunities to use the tool are as broad as the media spectrum itself.”

10 Responses to “YouTube Direct Launched to Bolster Citizen Journalism”

  1. Full disclosure here: we are Filemobile and provide enterprise citizen journalism tools. We work with MSM to provide them with tools to power their citizen journalism efforts.

    Youtube Direct is a great tool for citizen journalism however I argue that it is not something that should be widely adopted by mainstream media (MSM). It has to many short comings for the needs of MSM.

    • The lack of photos is a major issue.

    • MSM need a multiplatform transcoding solution for mobile, web, and TV

    • The advertising requirements are to restrictive for MSM

    We are providing enterprise ready solution for MSM with a system that can take any file from any device and publish (after moderation) into an automated TV broadcast system.

    Check out “The problem with Youtube Direct for mainstream media” for more information on this:

  2. There are a few other questions that are raised around YouTube Direct as well.

    Full Disclosure : I am the founder of a technology company that provides similar functionality to tv stations:

    FACT: The majority of the most dramatic video and pictures captured during big news stories and severe weather are created by civilians using cell phones, not staff or professionals.

    FACT: Over time, archives and libraries of UGC will become the Visual Repositories of Record for a given market, they might even be worth something!

    FACT: Video that is sent into YouTube, Direct or otherwise, is owned by the Content Creator not the Publisher (Broadcaster). Once on YouTube, anyone, including other publishers in the market, can publish and/or distribute the content on whatever platforms they like.

    So the basic underlying question the YouTube Direct model poses for broadcasters and publishers is:

    Are Content Publishers (including TV Stations), especially during competitive periods of heavy viewership like Breaking News and Severe Weather, willing to use their resources and reach to solicit and collect content they don’t own the rights to while their competitors are able to use it at will without attribution.

    Of course the Internet purists will argue everything should be free and available everywhere all the time, but wait, Google is selling ads right next to all that “free stuff” nobody owns.

    Not my idea of a good way to build a business but, Broadcasters gave away their Content to Cable for years and now Comcast will probably buy NBCU for a song, so who knows.

  3. Great point Druu – the other “oppurtunity” that is missed by companies using Youtube Direct, is capatilizing on the traffic and views that a potential viral news clip could gather. Since Youtube is hosting thier videos, they get all the hits and clicks for every video that was suppose to be uplaoded to that news agency specifically.

  4. This looks pretty swift, however…doesn’t this just contribute to the continuing decline in the monetary value of content?

    “…the tool will provide an easy way for news agencies to collect and broadcast clips that users submit for review.”
    “Businesses can use YouTube Direct to solicit promotional videos…”

    Great, so instead of paying for the production of advertisements and hiring camera crews, businesses will be able to solicit them for free using YouTube. This reminds me of an “opportunity” scheme Sony Pictures used a few years ago for the film ‘Stomp the Yard’. They held a song contest on MySpace, where the winner would have their song used in the film’s soundtrack…for free. So, couched in an “opportunity” for up-and-coming musicians was a way for Sony to get for free what they would usually have to pay license fees for.

    We should stop for a minute and think about this. Our economy can’t function when we’re all giving away our products for free, and right now a lot of people don’t realize that they are screwing themselves in the long run by giving away their video and audio content to for-profit businesses.