YouTube’s Reporters’ Center couldn’t come at a better time in the evolution of citizen journalism. Citizens of countries around the world now play a more pivotal role in the gathering of facts and reporting of news than ever before. The value of citizen journalism has been clearly demonstrated in recent weeks, as many of us have witnessed Iranian citizens protesting their national election. In parts of the world where journalists are blocked from covering the news, or imprisoned for their efforts, brave citizens have stepped into the void to bring us stories from a perspective we’ve rarely seen in modern reporting.
Services like Twitter, Skype and other citizen journalism platforms like CNN’s iReport have been at the center of the action, providing citizens with the media tools they need to upload and broadcast their content to the world. With the launch of YouTube’s Reporters’ Center, citizens now have a new tool to use, on the world’s largest online video platform. What’s most impressive about YouTube’s Reporters’ Center is its focus on making you (and me) better citizen journalists. To coincide with the launch of its new service, YouTube put together an impressive selection of videos from respected journalists, aimed at providing regular Joes and Janes like us with a crash course in reporting.
Some of the initial videos that caught my attention were:
- How to Conduct a Good Interview – Katie Couric and Producer Tony Maciulis, CBS News
- Tips on Investigative Journalism – Bob Woodward, journalism legend for investigative journalism, The Washington Post
- Covering a Global Crisis – Nicholas D. Kristof, Columnist, The New York Times
- Tips for Writing a Good Profile Piece – Beth Murphy, Pulitzer Center-Sponsored Journalist
- How to Pitch a News Story – Joe Resnick, Associated Press
These are just a few examples of the awesome content YouTube has pulled together for the launch. I hope other journalists will step up to the plate to provide more journalism education content like this. I think true journalists recognize that citizens can play an increased role in telling the story for readers and viewers. I hope the launch of YouTube’s Reporters’ Center helps to continue to bring us stories less sanitized from the media filters that exist around the world. First-hand reporting from the eyes of witnesses is the most powerful and authentic type of reporting I’ve ever seen. Not to take anything away from the journalists who have stepped into harm’s way in the past to report on stories, I just think first hand accounts bring viewers one step closer to the stories.
There’s something about a story reported by a citizen witnessing news events before their eyes that sends a more powerful message. This type of reporting is more raw and in-your-face. Frankly, some of it scares the hell out of me. I think that’s a good thing. A lot of our news, whether we know it or not, is filtered. The Internet removes a lot of these filters and really communicates the severity of events around the world. It’s this type of emotional response that drives action among citizens of the world. It’s indeed an exciting time in the evolution of citizen journalism.