News stories on television and in the early years of online have traditionally meant elaborate video production, but user-generated video is becoming increasingly important in the coverage of breaking news stories, and Google has responded with new features to support eyewitness news videos uploaded onto YouTube. Google has owned the popular video site since a 2006 buyout. The popularity of user-generated and other news content on YouTube is reflected in figures showing that more than 5 million hours of news videos are watched on the site every day.
Over the course of recent years, stories of global significance have unfolded on YouTube, thanks to user-generated content uploaded onto the site. The Arab Spring revolutions that swept through the Middle East is one such example, with Egyptian protests in 2011 receiving particular coverage on YouTube. More recently, the earthquake that devastated Nepal in April 2015 saw many user-generated videos uploaded online, offering viewers an insight into the chaos surrounding the earthquake and its direct impact on those caught up in it. The type of raw footage that finds its way online during such events is increasingly being appropriated by television news channels, underlying just how newsworthy and significant user-generated video has become.
Google is rolling out three initiatives to better enable the discovery and verification of eyewitness news videos uploaded onto YouTube. They are:
- YouTube Newswire: This is an initiative in partnership with Storyful, the Irish social news agency acquired by global media giant NewsCorp in 2014. YouTube Newswire is a curated feed covering the videos deemed most newsworthy on a particular day. The videos are verified by the editors at Storyful and are also embeddable from the original source. YouTube Newswire will have both global and regional newsfeeds, allowing users to see which stories are gaining traction in different parts of the world.
- The First Draft Coalition: This represents the bringing together of leading figures in social media to provide educational resources on verifying user-generated video as well as ethical training, tools, case studies and research.
- WITNESS Media Lab: A partnership with international non-profit organisation WITNESS, this initiative will support human rights issues by way of citizen video analysis, with a series of in-depth projects.