Ming Fearon & Jackie Wang
YouTube is a website that hosts videos that can be uploaded for free by any registered user and viewed by anyone. The site was created in February 2005 and was quickly purchased by Google Inc. in late 2006 due to its overwhelming popularity. Prior to this purchase, almost anything could be uploaded onto YouTube. Its popularity was due to the fact that it is a great and readily available media resource. People turned to YouTube to catch up on shows or news clips they could not find the time to watch on television.
However, since Google’s purchase of the company, many copyright laws now prohibit the sharing of some videos. Because of this, certain television shows, movies, and music videos are unavailable in their entirety or at all on YouTube. Despite these laws, YouTube continues to provide the general public access with valuable media resources. The internet itself has greatly affected journalism and the media because anyone with access to the internet can reach masses almost immediately with the right online resources. YouTube is one of these resources; an excellent example of this lies in the “Newsish” video we saw in class.
The creator of that video, Bri Holt, demonstrates the freedom internet videos can provide a person with. His website, newish.com, is simply a collection of all the YouTube videos he has created with his social commentary on politics, the media, and pop culture. Holt can express his opinions about pretty much anything he wants, and clearly exercises his right to freedom of speech through the dozens of videos he has uploaded onto YouTube. Unlike those who work on network television, Holt is able to say things that could be considered incendiary. Although his audience is not as wide as those of network television, YouTube allows people who are specifically interested in the topics he is dealing with to listen to his opinions. His target audience can reach him easily simply by typing a few key words into the YouTube (or even Google) search engine.
Holt is such a good example of an Internet journalist because he discusses subjects that he has clearly researched, and later fact checks himself and makes note of it at the bottom of the video if he later realizes he has made an error. If people find error with something he has done, they can comment on it. This allows for a user-operated system of checks and balances that is not available with television and print journalism (unless of course the newspaper is an online edition and it is possible to post a comment).
Although there are some copyright restrictions on intellectual property, intelligent opinions cannot be censored on YouTube. Holt can report on news events with integrity and honesty, which is sometimes lacking in the media. On the most basic level, YouTube changes journalism because anyone can accidentally witness a significant historical event, videotape it on a cell phone, and then upload it onto the internet for millions of people to see. With this ability, almost anyone can become a journalist (or, in that same vein, a celebrity) of some sort.