Most of the eyewitness and on-the-ground videos that we’ve seen in recent years haven’t really come from network TV or even cable news channels. Especially when it comes to breaking news stories, we’ve relied on social media and YouTube to get our news fix. And while there are still some questions and issues when it comes to legitimacy and fact-checking, YouTube is now taking steps to address these things and to be more organized and accessible in terms of bringing content.
The Google-owned social video channel is introducing three new tools that will help “support the discovery and verification of eyewitness news videos” on their network. First off, we now have YouTube Newswire, which is a curated feed of eyewitness videos of the day. This is in partnership with social news agency Storyful, who have also taken on the responsibility of verifying these user-submitted videos. This will feature global and regional feeds and hopefully bring a perspective to the news that we don’t see in mainstream media. You can have the videos directly delivered to your inbox if you subscribe to the daily newsletter.
The First Draft Coalition meanwhile is an educational resource to help journalists, students, and those who are just curious about this whole new world of social media journalism. The pioneers in the field as well as thought leaders from different related industries have come together to give guidelines and suggestions on how to verify eyewitness media as well as the ethics involved when using them in mainstream news reporting. You have experts from Eyewitness Media Hub, Storyful, Bellingcat, First Look Media’s Reported.ly, Meedan, Emergent, SAM Desk, and Verification Junkie. The site will be launching this fall.
Finally, YouTube is supporting Witness Media Lab, which involves a series of in-depth projects that deal with human rights struggles from all over the world. It explores the role of bystander and eyewitness videos in shedding light on these abuses that happen and that normally wouldn’t be carried by international or even local news. This is in partnership with the organization, Witness, which “trains and supports activists and citizens around the world to use video safely, ethically, and effectively to expose human rights abuse and fight for human rights change.”