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Google Prepping San Francisco Trial for YouTube Direct

Google (s GOOG) is reaching out to local bloggers and videographers in San Francisco as part of a new trial of its YouTube Direct citizen journalism offering, according to Peter Kafka at MediaMemo. The initiative, which is reportedly being launched with a local TV station, would help serve as a showcase of how other news organizations could leverage YouTube’s citizen journalists to augment their own coverage.

The whole thing started in SF Weekly, where it was reported that Google had contacted SFAppeal blogger Eve Batey, among others, to take part in a local news initiative aimed at getting “bloggers, writers and digital journalists” to help cover San Francisco news by shooting video on their cameras or video-enabled phones. The email exchange offered very few details about the project, except that YouTube claimed to already be mobilizing more than 150 citizen journalists throughout the city.

Well, turns out that the hush-hush project is not much more than a new trial of its YouTube Direct citizen journalism program that the video site is launching with a local San Francisco TV station, according to MediaMemo. If successful, that initiative would be used as a showcase for how other local news organizations could leverage the same tools.

YouTube Direct was launched last November as a way to connect news organizations with citizen journalists, allowing them to add a customizable “upload video” button to their websites for video producers to submit their entries. But while the program has received some limited interest from news organizations such The Huffington Post, NPR, Politico, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Washington Post, not much has been done with the service. YouTube is hoping to change that with a San Francisco news blitz that could show other news organizations the power of the platform.

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