Using YouTube as a News Source

By: Claudia Williams

On the evening of November 3, a woman by the name of Carlesha Freeland-Gaither was abducted in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the whole thing was caught on film by a surveillance camera on a nearby building. The video shows Freeland being grabbed by a man and forced into his vehicle against her will, all while another car pulled up, watched the whole thing, and left without a word. The media source YouTube

and the Philadelphia PD channel is asking for the public’s help in identifying the unknown car, as well as the suspect involved in the actual abduction.

To us, YouTube is the place to go for music videos, movie trailers, or any sort of comical video used for pure entertainment. Since the website first came about in 2005, the site has only grown more popular, with some videos reaching over 600 million views. Due to the mass amounts of viewings a day, the Pennsylvania News Channel has gone straight to the media website for their number once source of help. The video of the abduction has reached well over 480 thousand views since just last night, and has been receiving other publicity from various news sites around the United States.

The video has been spread all over the states with the hopes of somebody recognizing the vehicle or the suspect involved in the abduction. The video was shown on television news casts since the incident happened last night, but the likeability for everyone viewing it is less due to the decline of viewers. Since 2007, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC news viewings have dropped an average of 11%, with  The Nielsen Media Research data showing the biggest decline for MSNBC, which lost nearly a quarter (24%) of its audience.

With more people viewing the news via internet and their cell phones, the Philadelphia PD was smart about using YouTube for more publicity in order to help get the word out. The driver of the car which watched the whole thing has already been identified, and it has not even been 24 hours.

How do you feel about YouTube becoming a new prime news source used, on top the prime-time news watched on TV or even opposed to it? Do you think that this is going to be a new way of running things, and that internet news will possibly one day completely rule the news and how the public views it?

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9 responses to “Using YouTube as a News Source

  1. I watched a video about how youtube gets more views a day than all three major news stations combined since they started broadcasting. I don’t think younger generations even watch TV broadcastings of news. I think that while youtube may not be a traditional news source, the easy-access and convenience factor makes it among the ranks of NBC, ABC and CBS.

    Technology has helped spread the word on so many cases like this, and I think it’s a useful tool. However, I do believe we must also rely on traditional media, not just youtube, to stay informed,

  2. I think in cases like this, having these videos on YouTube can literally help save peoples lives. Because YouTube is mainly a “search-for-what-you-want” platform rather than a breaking news type of site, I feel like the site wouldn’t get overwhelmed with news videos if more people or departments started using them, which I could see as being a big complaint if it becomes really popular. But I definitely agree that because so many people go on the site every day, it’s a great resource for news stations to post videos seeking the help of the public like this one. I also agree that it should be an addition to other traditional media, not just as a single outlet for news.

  3. I agree with Erin’s comment. What I like most about YouTube is that it reaches are bigger audience than a local newscast ever could. If it weren’t for YouTube, only Philadelphians would have seen the video of the woman’s kidnapping. Now, the entire country is on high alert.

    Your post made me curious about the future of newscasts. In my hometown, the local news is broadcast on TV, but it’s also accessible on YouTube. Instead of replacing one with the other, I think it would be beneficial for local news outlets to capitalize on YouTube’s popularity and traffic. I’m excited to see whether that means putting full-blown newscasts online or simply using YouTube for quick, extra newsworthy nuggets.

  4. I’ve never really thought about YouTube as a news source, but I feel like it was kind of inevitable that as the news starts expanding to new mediums video news was likely to seek popularity on different levels. I’m not sure I’ll really go to YouTube specifically for my news, but it’s great that it’s there as a resource. I’m not sure internet news will ever replace broadcast since the TV is generally more easy and accessible for multiple people in most households, but if you hear about something and want more information I think YouTube is a great outlet for receiving more in depth and visual coverage.

  5. I agree with the above comment. I don’t think YouTube should be a prime newsource, but rather a place to go as a resource such as this video. Not everyone uses YouTube, such as the older generation, and I think people prefer the traditional newsources. Having a source like this though is a great way to get a video out there fast and get it to go viral. Videos posted like this on YouTube are easy to share on other social media sites such as Facebook to also get people aware of the situation.

  6. What I think makes this a reliable source is that it’s a PD-pushed video. While I don’t believe it’s a citizen’s responsibility to take the law or journalism into their own hands. But in a world where everyone spends an average of 5 hours on the computer a day, a reliable source with a desperate need for information is necessary. People put search ads on milk cartons back-in-the-day because that was an easy way for them to get out information. This is just a different medium.

  7. I agree with the comments above. I think YouTube is a great place to post news videos since it is possible for a person to come across it, especially someone like me who is constantly on YouTube. But, I don’t necessarily see it becoming a primary news site at this point. If I’m looking for a video, I typically go to the news source’s website first to see what they have posted, and then I check YouTube if I’m not having any luck. Of course, I’m sure things are changing, and maybe it will get more popular in the area of news in the future.

  8. I had never considered YouTube as a source for news, but after reading your post I think there is a possibility of it doing great things for journalism. I don’t think people are necessarily going to look to YouTube for a full news report, but in situations like this it can be helpful in spreading the word. It’s easy enough for videos to go viral and then they can reach a whole new audience.

  9. I agree with Cassie above, I have never considered YouTube to be a hard news site. But after seeing this video and the affect it had on the public, I would say YouTube is a source of news. I truly believe that regardless of where you are getting your news, as long as it is accurate and is keeping you up to date with what is going on in the world, it is a news site. YouTube is now doing this, so I would say they are a source for hard news.

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