Pew: Fox News Clips Get YouTube Spotlight
Study finds opportunities, challenges for news organizations in rise of YouTube as news site
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 7/16/2012 12:10:00 AM
That is according to a new Pew Research Center study of the impact of YouTube on the news business, which according to Pew is large and potentially transformative.
According to Pew's Project for Excellence in journalism, the "Top News Organization Producers on YouTube," by which it means organization whose footage was posted on YouTube, not necessarily by that organization or with its permission, was Russia Today, with a whopping 8.6% of the top five videos each week between January 2011-March 2012.
Fox News came in second with 3.1% of the most-viewed clips. According to the study, more than half were posted by viewers, not Fox, and were critical of the comments, almost all of which were made on Fox News talk shows -- Tucker Carlson subbing for Sean Hannity in one case, Hank Williams Jr. on Fox & Friends in another, for example.
U.S. news organizations claimed six of the top 10 spots according to percentage of most-viewed videos, although Pew included the White House in that "news organization" category. The White House has arguably become an online news producer, featuring West Wing Week, a slickly packaged, narrated weekly roundup of White House events and plugs for programs done in the style of a newscast and featured on the White House Web site as well as YouTube.
ABC News was number three with 1.5%, tied with the White House, BBC and AP. C-SPAN and CNN were tied for fifth at 1.2%.
The posting of Fox News content by individuals illustrates what Pew called the "complex, symbiotic relationship has developed between citizens and news organizations on YouTube." Pew says that relationship is approaching the "continuous dialogue" model of journalism many predicted would be the fruits of the growth of online news. But the big downside for established news organizations looking to monetize their content online is found in the Pew conclusion that "clear ethical standards have not developed about how to attribute the video content moving through the synergistic sharing loop."
But the ethical confusion is apparently not confined to individuals. "News organizations sometimes post content that was apparently captured by citizen eyewitnesses without any clear attribution as to the original producer," say Pew researchers. "Citizens are posting copyrighted material without permission, and the creator of some material cannot be identified. All this creates the potential for news to be manufactured, or even falsified, without giving audiences much ability to know who produced it or how to verify it."
For all of YouTube's drawing power -- it is the third-most-visited site behind Google (which owns YouTube) and Facebook with over four billion daily views by its own accounting--conventional news still draws more eyeballs.
While the top 20 news videos of the past 15 months -- all of the tsunami in Japan -- drew a total of 96 million views, Pew points out that almost 22 million people a night watch the nightly network newscasts on ABC, CBS and NBC, with more tuning in to local TV news. But in this on-demand environment, Pew suggests the value added is that YouTube is "a place where consumers can determine the news agenda for themselves and watch the videos at their own convenience."
The rise of YouTube is a challenge and opportunity for the news business, the study suggests. The opportunity is the chance to grow audiences, build brands and generate some new revenue. CBS, for example, is a member of YouTube's Partner Program, in which the site shares revenues with CBS to promote content creation, and many other news organizations have their own YouTube channels.
The challenge is adapting and understanding the new video-sharing platform, as well as the issues of monetizing and protecting content.
While the study points out that entertainment video hit are often driven by stars, the "lure of personality" is less of a draw for news. A majority of news clips (65%) did not feature an individual. But there is an exception: Philip Franchina (Philip DeFranco), who Pew describes as a YouTube phenomenon and at least one web-friendly teenager polled by this reporter cites as her principal source of news along with Comedy Central's The Daily Show.
DeFranco claims a number of the top-viewed news clips with his quick-cut, often scatological, frequently biting observations on the news and the passing pop culture parade.
According to one study, his channel is the 16th most-watched on YouTube with north of 2 million subs, though he will no longer figure in studies of news viewing. For the first half of 2011, nine of his videos made it to the weekly top-five most watched, but a year ago he switched his tag from news and politics to entertainment. Absent that, said Pew, his vlog would have claimed more top spots.
Among the other key survey takeaways:
The most popular news videos tended to depict natural disasters or political upheaval-usually featuring intense visuals.
News events are inherently more ephemeral than other kinds of information, but at any given moment news can outpace even the biggest entertainment videos.
Citizens play a substantial role in supplying and producing footage.
Citizens are also responsible for posting a good deal of the videos originally produced by news outlets [39% of footage from news outlets was posted by individuals].
The most popular news videos are a mix of edited and raw footage.
Unlike in traditional TV news, the lengths of the most popular news videos on YouTube vary greatly.
For the survey, Pew examined 260 different videos, identified by tracking the five most-viewed videos each week on YouTube, "analyzing the nature of the video, the topics that were viewed most often, who produced them and who posted them."
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