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YouTube forays into journalism with eye witness video initiatives

Cinecurry YouTube

YouTube is tiptoeing towards journalism and announced three initiatives to help with the discovery and verification eyewitness news videos on the platform. “We live in a world where anyone can bear witness to what is happening around them and share it with a global audience, and YouTube has become a primary home for this powerful, first-person documentary footage,” YouTube said on its blog.

The first initiative is called YouTube Newswire which is a curated feed of the newsworthy eyewitness videos verified by a team of editors from social news agency Storyful. The Newswire will feature global and regional feeds that surface and feature the most relevant videos in different parts of the world. YouTube had earlier partnered with Storyful in 2011 during the Tahrir Square protests in Egypt. Viewers can follow them on Twitter and subscribe to newsletters from YouTube Newswire.

The second initiative is the First Draft Coalition and will bring together experts from Eyewitness Media Hub, Storyful, Bellingcat, First Look Media’s Reported.ly, Meedan, Emergent, SAM Desk, and Verification Junkie. First Draft will develop a website for verification and ethics training, tools, research, and case studies around the news stories. YouTube added that the site will be live this fall.

YouTube has also partnered with The WITNESS Media Lab to produce a series of projects that focus on human rights from the perspective of those who live, witness, and experience them. The first project from The WITNESS Media Lab will explore the impact of eyewitness videos in bringing justice in police brutality cases in the United States.

Competition from Twitter

It’s worth noting that Twitter has been trying to get a slice of the journalism pie through its live-streaming app Periscope. Former CEO Dick Costolo in a recent earnings call said that one million people signed up with Periscope within the first 10 days of the application’s launch. Costolo also mentioned that people have started using Periscope to broadcast streams of videos of the recent Baltimore riots.

In terms of news curation, Twitter also launched a new free product called Curator that allows media publishers to search, filter and curate relevant tweets and Vine videos and publish it in real-time to their readers, across web, mobile and TV. The microblogging platform mentions that publishers will be able to create complex keyword and hashtag queries to discover Twitter content, and queries can be further filtered based on authors or verified users, follower counts, location, time zone, language, and number of retweets or favorites among others, to create embeddable collections of relevant tweets.

Other YouTube projects and applications

– YouTube is launching a new application which will allow users to stream gaming videos, thus taking on Amazon owned Twitch. Called “YouTube Gaming”, it will have more than 25,000 games each with its own page in addition to channels for game publishers and YouTube creators.

–  In February it launched YouTube Kids, a new application aimed at children, with a simplified interface for kids, and comments disabled, with parents allowed to set times.

– YouTube also launched YouTube Music Key, a music streaming service which charges $10 per month after a free trial period and also offers offline playback. It’s also building a  subscription video service, with an ad-free version of YouTube for a monthly fee.

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