Can we use Youtube as a relevant source for journalism?

Youtube is the most important Website of video sharing. Almost every Internet user know this Website. It’s the third Website the most view every day on the all web.  Are the sources coming from Youtube really relevant? The mentalities are changing and we can see today that Youtube is became so popular that a lot of journalists, especially in the USA, are using it in their everyday work.

The example of Neda

A fact which made Youtube really important for journalists is the death of Neda in Iran in 2009. After the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,there was a huge protest in the street. A citizen was filming the demonstration, and he filmed the death of a young woman, named Neda. He posted his video on Youtube.

After this video was posted, all the media over the world took it as a source of information. They all used it to show what was going on in Iran, because they just didn’t have other images. That’s the proof that citizen journalism and professional journalism can cooperate. This video even received a journalistic award in the USA in 2009. The jury said: “We don’t know who took this video and who posted it on the Internet, but we know that it had a journalistic value.”

Youtube Direct

After seeing that simple citizens can help journalists in their everyday work, Google create in November 2009 “Youtube Direct”. “Connecting citizens and journalists” is the main goal of this website.

It is also a service to traditionnal media to find quickly videos that they need. ” Every day, citizens change the way that the public get the news, by using Youtube.” That’s why Youtube Direct has been created. Avoid the competition between citizens and journalists, and promote a cooperation.

When it started, Youtube Direct was used by ABC News, The Washington Post and other media in the USA, but I’ve never heard about it in Europe for the moment. It will maybe come.

Is also Youtube a relevant source for journalists?

As we saw, Youtube is always more used by journalists. The question is not to know if they have to use Youtube or not, but more how they have to use it. Youtube has created in 2008 a channel called CitizenNews where videos from what is happening around the world made by citizens are collected.

The operation that journalists have to do with anonymous videos posted on Youtube is the same than for other information. They have to verify the information at least. They cannot take a video like this without ckecking other sources saying the same or without being sure that what is shown is the reality.

Some people think that Youtube information can desensitisize us. By showing everybody horrible images as we saw with the Neda’s death, it’s becoming natural to see such awful things. And nobody cares anymore about these kinds of images.

I don’t really agree with this statement. I think that journalists cannot be always where the news is going on. Citizens can also help them to catch the information, even if it is a sad or a horrible information. Journalistic work has the goal to show the reality as it is. And seeing real images of wars or earthquakes, for instance, is the reality.

To conclude my article, I would say that Youtube is a chance for journalists. They can use it as a distribution channel and as a source of information. Using it as a distribution channel is the insurance to be seen. Using it as a source of information necessits the same work of verification than other sources.

For the moment I have the impression that almost only american media are really using Youtube very often. In Europe, media are using it sometimes but they seem to not trust it. It will come for sure.

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