YouTube starts citizen journalism feed

June 18 2009 Protest in Iran

Citizen journalism has won a new, powerful editor. In fact, it might be the largest editor of all.

YouTube now curates a news feed to organize and showcase newsworthy videos uploaded on its site. The YouTube News Feed is a joint project with the University of California at Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.

Starting this summer, the CitizenTube website says it will stream constant video and focus on three priorities: strong visuals, breaking news and unorthodox mediums.

This is great news for citizen journalism for two reasons.

Number one, it fleshes out the concept of citizen journalism with tangible and credible examples:

Whether it’s an altercation between a Congressman and a student in Washington, D.C., violent attacks against ethnic minorities in Kyrgyzstan, or oil washing up on a beach in the Gulf Coast, videos uploaded to YouTube by both amateur reporters and professional journalists move through the media ecosystem with a sophistication and speed greater than ever before. But with 24 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, how can people more easily find the latest breaking news videos on our site? And how can media organizations better leverage this content to expand the scope of their reporting and keep us all better informed?

Number two, it offers a “How To” template for making citizen journalism work and getting people interested:

if you’ve uploaded breaking news videos, please tweet them to us (@citizentube), and include as much context as you’re able to give. And we’d love to hear your feedback about this project in the comments sections of CitizenTube. Our goal with this news feed is to learn more about the news ecosystem on YouTube — and who better to teach us than people like you.

As CitizenTube played a role in the 2009 Iranian election protests, it has set a precedent for making citizen journalism more legitimate and more powerful. Now it is taking it one step further by adding an aggregator to simplify and highlight the concept.

Yet Mashable’s Jolie O’Dell brings up a good question in her article on the YouTube News Feed:

One of our initial concerns is that the feed will be swamped with visually shocking stories, living up to the old news adage, “If it bleeds, it leads.” Currently, the feed is all pyrotechnical disasters and violent crime as captured by, well, anyone with a camera phone. We hope those in charge of the project will also take care to curate thoughtful, in-depth videos and highlight issues that are less shock-and-awe but ultimately of even more consequence to most citizens.

It’s a big step for citizen journalism, no doubt. But its success will hinge on whether a strong group of editors who can manage the citizens’ contributions with a discerning voice.

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