YouTube Direct: Why Citizen Journalists Shouldn't Care

Great news, citizen journalists! Not only do the mainstream media have a condescending name for your ilk, but they now have a tool to help them swipe your videos, thanks to YouTube!

YouTube Direct is a tool that allows amateur videographers and reporters to upload their footage to news Web sites. Participating sites put up a widget that lets users submit their videos, and the sites' moderators can then look over all the submissions in bulk, deciding which are suitable for broadcast. Reporters could also integrate the videos into their stories, and news organizations can contact the submitter for more details.

For the mass media, it's a great tool. They get first-hand footage of breaking news without even having to look for it, probably for free (YouTube says the news sites can work out their own terms of service, which I assume would include the right to publish, transmit, re-publish, and so on). Precious time and money is saved.

What's in it for the so-called citizen journalist? Not much, unless you're still clinging to the idea that getting your name and 15-second video clip on a news Web site or broadcast is a big deal.

But here's the thing: The Internet and YouTube let you publish and broadcast yourself. You don't have to be some drone for ABC News or the Huffington Post. If you're doing amateur newscasts regularly, you can start your own blog and open your own section on YouTube, without giving those organizations the glory. If you just happened to catch a major news event on camera, you can be part of those remarkable moments when clips begin popping up on YouTube and first-hand accounts take over Twitter.

YouTube Direct is a nice gesture from Google to the mainstream media. It's an attempt to connect news organizations to the citizen journalists they secretly loathe, but it assumes, falsely, that those citizen journalists need the news organizations in the first place.

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