News events occasionally outpace entertainment on YouTube

PEJ | The Washington Post | Storyful
In a new study about how YouTube has become a major platform for viewing news, Pew’s Project for Excellence in Journalism reports that “at any given moment news can outpace even the biggest entertainment videos,” although non-news videos generally rack up more views over time. News events were the most-searched terms on YouTube four of 12 months. The biggest news-related videos follow the classic viral traffic pattern, rocketing in popularity over a short time and dropping off quickly. Popular entertainment videos have more staying power.

The report describes a complex environment in which citizens and professional news organizations post and share videos alongside one another, without much adherence to the ethical standards that govern TV news.

PEJ Deputy Director Amy Mitchell tells The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi that researchers don’t believe YouTube is a substitute for traditional TV news; instead they see it as an emerging way of getting news about the world.

Storyful CEO Mark Little’s take, however, is that YouTube has edged out traditional TV news:

The platform is no longer simply a supplement to the daily news diet. It is a primary source of imagery for the broader news industry and also a regular and all-encompassing destination for its formerly captive audience.

The signature force at work in this evolution is a rapidly evolving taste for authenticity among news consumers and an indifference to the personalities and established protocols of broadcast news. News organisations can play an important role on YouTube as ‘curators’ of the YouTube experience. Collaboration is the currency of this new realm, not control.

Related: News trumps entertainment for most memorable TV moments

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