On Tuesday, YouTube announced a new service that lets news and media outlets request, review and even rebroadcast clips YouTube users shoot and upload to the site. Dubbed YouTube Direct, the new tool is built from YouTube's API. YouTube Direct is an open-source application that makes it possible for media organizations to allow customized versions of YouTube's upload platform on their web sites.
YouTube Direct also creates a virtual assignment desk that lets news and media organizations ask YouTube users to submit breaking news videos, user-generated reports, or reactions to questions or news events of the day.
"People around the world are taking up cameras and covering news in ways big and small -- from documenting global events to filming local town halls in American neighborhoods," said Steve Grove, head of news and politics at YouTube. "YouTube Direct empowers news and media organizations to easily connect with these citizen reporters and use the power of our platform to cover the news better than ever before."
Anatomy of YouTube Direct
News and media organizations can farm out assignments to citizen reporters, allowing them to upload their videos directly into the YouTube Direct application. YouTube Direct then enables the hosting news organization to review video submissions and select the best ones to broadcast on-air and on their web sites.
The YouTube Direct videos, however, aren't exclusive to the news organizations. These citizen-journalist-created videos also appear live on YouTube, so amateur videographers can reach their own audience while getting broader exposure and editorial validation for the videos they create.
YouTube already has an established audience of news consumers. In fact, YouTube is the biggest news video repository in the world, with nearly 300 global and local news partners and hundreds of millions of views of news and political videos every week. YouTube has a large archive of news videos on historic events like 9-11 and presidential debates.
News organizations are already embracing YouTube Direct. The platform is currently in use by the Huffington Post, NPR, Politico, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post, and WHDH-TV/WLVI-TV in Boston.
The Changing Media Paradigm
Phil Leigh, a senior analyst at Inside Digital Media, called YouTube Direct interesting. He believes history will look back on this period as the golden age of news reporting because of this fundamental change in the media paradigm.
"Everybody with a camera and the ability to record video in real time has the opportunity now to participate in news gathering," Leigh said. "YouTube making that available to established news organizations is an extension of the media."
Despite the advances, there is a potential downside for media organizations. Leigh said the rise of citizen journalists and the manifestation of YouTube Direct underscores the changing nature of news reporting.
"The established news organizations no longer have the monopoly that they once did. In a sense, it's beneficial for the news organizations, but at the same time it eliminates their exclusivity," Leigh said. "This means news organizations have to learn how to adapt and use these capabilities to their own advantage as opposed to resisting them."