The above amateur video from Monroe, Ohio, is more than an 11-second clip of a giant Jesus statue at Solid Rock church in flames after being struck by lightning. It's now being treated on a par with professional media brands' news as part of YouTube's video feed for the latest breaking news videos.
When YouTube launched CitizenTube in 2008, it marked Google's support of citizen journalism and crowdsourcing via video. Now that it's the second biggest search engine (after its parent) and users are turning to it for news and information, YouTube is shifting CitizenTube from a citizen portal to a news source, mixing amateur and professional video clips.
Any user can upload news footage and flag it for inclusion on Twitter (by alerting @citizentube), as Steve Grove, YouTube's head of news and politics, notes on the site's blog.
Grove also writes, in an article titled "YouTube's Ecosystem for News," that "Our users innovate at an extraordinary pace and in ways that amaze us, make our world more transparent, and change the way we consume information and are informed."
Despite the seeming jumble at a site that receives 24 hours of uploaded video each minute, an orderly food-chain is merging from this industry leader, delivering pro-am content through a standalone channel that aims to simultaneously promote and shake up the news industry.
Media brands can upload their news footage next to user-generated video and leverage what YouTube ‘curators’ have deemed most important, and use it at their discretion: “they can block the video, leave it up and monitor it, or even make money from it. Increasingly, news organizations are seeing the value in leveraging this organic user activity; the majority of media companies using Content ID choose to make money from user clips, rather than take them down.”
Examples include the recent flash floods that killed nineteen people in France. The political implications are exemplified by recent videos of the aftermath from ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan.
Mediabistro sees “the weak link in this concept is Twitter and its inability to maintain a stable system. Still, it is an interesting idea and doesn't require learning anything new assuming you already know how to upload a video to YouTube and send a tweet.”
Digital brands and content creators will be watching and contributing, as YouTube aims to feed its new news ecosystem with video and information that substantially broaden consumers' world views. Also helping the quality of citizen journalists' contributions: the just-launched, cloud-based YouTube video editor.