FOR THE WEEK OF AUG. 28, 2006
Online short videos grab huge audience for YouTube
YouTube relies almost entirely on user-generated content. Newspapers have embraced interactive two-way communication since before that site’s 2005 birth . Ask students to point out examples of reader-generated content -– words or images –- in various sections of the daily paper.
Channels and topic "tags" let YouTube visitors find content matching their interests in music, sports, comedy, news, movies, politics, recreation, fashion and other subjects. Invite class members to discuss how newspaper editors and designers organize content to help readers.
Users who register with YouTube can rate videos on a popularity index shown with stars. Newspapers mainly use staff specialists or experienced contributors to evaluate new entertainment, books, restaurants and art –- though many also present "reader choice" awards or listings occasionally. Start a classroom discussion about the relative merits of consumer reviews versus professional critiques. What benefits and limitations can each have?
Millions of computer users around the globe know that TV isn’t the only place or necessarily the best place to see innovative, imaginative and often hilarious videos -- as well as newsmaking tapes of political candidates. Instead, they click on YouTube.com, which has soared from nowhere to mega-popularity in a year and a half.
Viewers with broadband connections watch more than 100 million “snack-size” videos each day on the site, which premiered in February 2005 and now is the most-visited video destination online – with nearly 20 million unique visitors each month, according to Nielsen/NetRatings. Numerous blogs embed the streaming Adobe Flash clips of music videos, pirated movie trailers, comic bits, commercial parodies and dancing cats. More than 65,000 videos that don’t exceed 10 minutes are uploaded daily by amateurs, by film students, by pros and by techies snatching them from their originators.
YouTube accounts for 60 percent of all videos watched online, says the young company, created by three early employees of PayPal and propped up by $11.5 million from an investment firm. It has about 30 employees based in California’s Silicon Valley and is not yet profitable. Site visitors pay nothing and don’t even see banner ads or commercials – so far. Founders say they’re working on developing advertising and revenue sources.
Co-founder says: "We are creating a stage that everyone can participate in, not around traditional time slots, but letting users decide what they want to watch." – Chad Hurley, chief executive officer
Ex-critic says: "The more exposure we get from clips like that [a news report on an autistic student who scored 20 points in four minutes during a basketball game], the better it is for CBS News and the CBS television network. So in retrospect we probably should have embraced the exposure [via YouTube] and embraced the attention it was bringing CBS, instead of being parochial and saying 'let’s pull it down.' " -- Sean McManus, president of CBS News
Legal issue: Some clips are pirated from networks, studios, recording labels and other sources. YouTube yanks them at the owners' request. The company says it simply provides an online storage service and isn’t liable for violations of its ban on posting someone else’s copyrighted content. And CBS isn’t the only business allowing -- or even providing -- clips to be posted because of the promotional value.
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