What YouTube Direct means for the post-media world

November 23, 2009

The movement toward a true post-mainstream media world took another big leap forward with the announcement last week of YouTube Direct. There’s been lots of talk, including on this blog, about how the 300 million plus people walking around with smartphones are the electronic newsgathering network of today. And how the news outlets such as CNN and CBS and trying increasingly hard to tap into this network of citizen journalists. YouTube brilliantly just made it a lot easier. While I confess I haven’t looked at it in detail it looks a bit like combining YouTube downloading capability with some HARO (Help a Reporter Out) functionality. So someone with a cell video camera can capture something stunning like Tom Cruise jumping on a couch over his new love or houses floating by on a flooded river and immediately post that to YouTube, where it can the be easily accessed by media, bloggers or anyone else to share. Also, those looking for video on specific topics can request it or search and those with them can submit directly. That seems to be the idea as I understand it.

What this means of course is more access by anyone who is interested to the videos and information they want.  The implications for crisis and emergency management professionals is significant. Now more than ever when you respond, the story will be told already. The chances of getting the first word in are remote–unless you completely control the exposure, such as if you are David Letterman and decide you will reveal the sordid facts and not leave it to someone else. If you don’t control the first hint of what is going on, then by the time you can respond, the world–at least those most interested–will be already receiving a stream of relevant info. The real question for crisis managers and emergency responders is how do you manage an event when everyone who cares very well knows more than you do? That to me is the big question that we will be struggling with in the coming years.


3 Responses to “What YouTube Direct means for the post-media world”

  1. Hello Gerald … your post raises many questions. I believe that some possible answers lay mainly in two areas.

    First, be known. Have a robust web/social media monitoring program so you can then engage in conversations about you or your organization’s field of expertise. By being present, you increase your chances of being heard … of being a trusted, credible source.

    The second part follows the first and is based on your credibility. When many sources of info abound … you distinguish yourself not necessarily by being the first one out there … but by being right, accurate and relevant … the foundations of credibility.

    Be first … (yes, if you can) … but ALWAYS (if that’s possible !!!) be right !

  2. gbaron Says:

    A great big Amen to that! Problem of course is that if you wait too long to make certain you are absolutely right, you will probably be irrelevant. We need to understand that the style of the instant news world has become: this is what we know right now, and if it proves to be wrong or incomplete, we’ll let you know as soon as we find out more. That allows you to be fast and still maintain credibility–as long as you fix it fast if you mess up.

  3. […] like Gerald Baron are (rightly) concerned about the rise of the citizen journalist and how crisis communicators will deal with new sources of on-the-ground footage. And I don’t […]

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