Social video

Social media goes beyond Facebook and Twitter, a recent Mashable infographic listed a total of twelve social networks including Facebook and Twitter and another infographic adds three more for a total of fifteen social social networks1 2.

YouTube Logo


These fifteen networks all connect people based on interests, hobbies, or other commonalities. Omitted from both lists is YouTube, a site where users can post and share videos and populate profiles with personal information. Those users can then comment on other members’ posts and subscribe to updates. Robert G. Picard defined social media as  “The ability to create relationship with and among users is among the widely touted benefits of social media tools3.” Using this definition, YouTube is a social media site and it just got more social.

YouTube announced on June 2, 2011 that they will begin to index all Creative Commons (CC) videos on their site to provide users an easy mechanism for incorporating CC videos into their original content edited with the YouTube editor4 . The system allows users editing on YouTube’s platform the ability to search for CC footage and then drag and drop those files into their product. GigaOm, an independent technology blog, called user’s new ability a “mashup feature” so users could add their own music (CC or under YouTube’s license) and then create their own original content, but there are implications beyond the amateur’s mashup5 .

What this means for reporters

As reporting tool, YouTube is invaluable, it gives reporters the ability to search archives of campaign videos, public officials and their offices which manage YouTube accounts. A video I produced on May 26, 2011 relied heavily on archival footage obtained through YouTube but edited off YouTube’s platform6.

According to GigaOm’s report, they are partnering with organizations including C-SPAN to make their archives searchable for user generated content which would have significantly aided in reporting the above piece7.

Since YouTube’s editing tools are limited, reporters heavily engaged in creating multimedia content involving these new resources still must rely on their technical acumen which was necessary before the CC search’s existence. But the ab

ility to search extends beyond finding the right soundbite as was the case in my report, reporters now have an an additional means to find the right B-roll or sounds to use to enhance rich storytelling, this is especially useful since YouTube is implementing the standard Creative Commons-Attribution license meaning the content can be edited and used off YouTube8.

What this means for news consumption

People consume news online and a September, 2010 report by the Pew Center for the People & the Press found that 44% of consumers “got news through one or more internet or mobile digital source” the day before being surveyed9. Given these numbers, YouTube cannot be discounted as a source of news and on June 2, 2011 videos categorized “News and Politics” garnered more than one million views in a single day10.

Mashups, the initial use described by GigaOm, are already part of news consumption. The Daily Show with John Stewart regularly relies on mashups of cable news footage, C-SPAN clips, and  network news. These clips incorporate on footage that  is strictly licensed and are used under a fair use exception. For consumers, especially those who would be prone to watch a new YouTube mashup this is a critical distinction since the footage used by a leading satirist would not be available to creators of new YouTube mashups relying on CC licenses only.

John Stewart denies that his show is a news source, and is alone in doing so. A report published by the Pew Research Center for Excellence in Journalism in May, 2008 said “Stewart has always insisted that his show isn’t journalism and given its comedic core, its blurring of truth and fiction, and its ignoring of many major events, that is true in a traditional sense.” Pew expands on the use of news clips and mashups in the same report highlighting the need that to understand the clips a viewer must have prior knowledge of the news.

The program also makes heavy use of news footage, often in a documentary way that employs archival video to show contrast and contradiction, even if the purpose is satirical rather than reportorial. At other times, the show also blends facts and fantasy in a way that no news program hopefully ever would. In addition, The Daily Show not only assumes, but even requires, previous and significant knowledge of the news on the part of viewers if they want to get the joke. And, in 2007 at least, the joke was more often on the Bush Administration and its fellow Republicans than on those from the liberal side of the aisle11.

Mashups on the scale of John Stewart cannot be created using the new tools available due to the limited resources made available under the CC license.


Are mashups news? Yes. Does YouTube’s new tool provide the resources content creators need to produce high quality news mashups? No. While GigaOm may have been right in saying that the new tool can be used for mashups but individuals cannot rely only on those tools and must have their own licensed content to make a news worthy product. For news producers it is only a supplementary tool, a way to find CC content to be ripped and used as part of a larger produced package or mashup.

Ripped content, CC or under another license cannot alone make a story. Repackaging content from YouTube will become as easy as as retweeting is on Twitter, enticing reporters to use a new form of social content as in ineffective but attractive replacement for reporting. Good can come from the CC search, just as Tweets and Facebook posts can be used to show public perception on an issue; CC licensed, user generated content can provide the impetus for a story to show a crowd perspective and is a modern equivalent of the “man on the street”

1 Jolie O’Dell, “Happy Little Checkins: Bob Ross on Social Media [INFOGRAPHIC],” Mashable, May 27, 2009,

2 Charlie White, “Is There a Social Media Tech Bubble? [INFOGRAPHIC],” Mashable, May 29, 2009,

3Picard, Robert G. “Blogs, Tweets, Social Media, and the News Business.” Nieman Reports 63, no. 3 (Autumn 2009): 10-12. (accessed November 18, 2009).11.

4“YouTube and Creative Commons: raising the bar on user creativity,” YouTube Blog, June 2, 2011,

5Janko Roetttgers, “Why YouTube Adopting Creative Commons Is a Big Deal Online Video News,” GigaOm, June 2, 2011,

6Joshua Altman, “GOP reintroduces job policies,” The Hill (Washington D.C., May 26, 2011),

7Janko Roetttgers.

8“Attribution 3.0 Unported — CC BY 3.0,” Creative Commons, n.d.,

9Americans Spending More Time Following the News Ideological News Sources: Who Watches and Why (Pew Research Center for the People & the press, September 12, 2010),

10 “News & Politics‬‏,” YouTube, June 2, 2011,

11 Postcards From the Pledge, Online, The Daily Show with John Stewart (New York, NY, 2010),

12 “Journalism, Satire or Just Laughs? ‘The Daily Show with John Stewart,’ Examined,” Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ), May 8, 2008,


This post has been updated to reflect appropriate changes

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