YouTube to launch citizen reporter channel

30 Jun 2009

Following the momentous events in Iran in recent weeks, it is clear that YouTube is now the biggest video news site on the internet. Today, the company has launched a new resource that sees reporters teaching citizens how to report the news.

The YouTube Reporters’ Center will feature some of the top journalists in the US sharing instructional videos featuring tips and advice for better reporting.

These include learning how to prepare for an interview, or how to be an investigative reporter from the legendary Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward, or how to report on a global humanitarian crisis from Nick Kristof of the New York Times. All of the videos are available on the YouTube Reporters’ Center channel.

The inspiration from the project was the election crisis in Iran. As hundreds of thousands of Iranian citizens took to the streets of Tehran to protest the national elections, the government stifled foreign journalists, leaving citizens themselves as the main documentarians to the events unfolding there.

“We’ve been highlighting many of these videos and keeping track of the latest developments on our YouTube news and politics blog, Citizentube,” Olivia Ma of YouTube News and Politics wrote in the official YouTube blog.

“Though the circumstances in Iran are unique, this isn’t the first time that citizens have played a crucial role in reporting on events around the world. Burmese citizens uploaded exclusive video footage to YouTube during the protests in Myanmar back in 2007; people in China’s Sichuan province documented the devastating and historic 7.8-magnitude earthquake of 2008 in real-time; and eyewitnesses to the shooting of young Oscar Grant by Oakland police forces captured the event on their cell phone cameras and uploaded videos to YouTube for the world to see.

“Citizens are no longer merely bystanders to world events. Today, anyone can chronicle what they see and participate in the news-gathering process.

“We believe the power of this new-media landscape lies in the collaborative possibilities of amateurs and professionals working together,” Ma said.

By John Kennedy