The video-sharing website YouTube is a growing source of information for news, according to a new study conducted by the Pew Research Center for Excellence in Journalism.
Pew monitored YouTube’s most-viewed news videos spanning from January 2011 to March 2012—cataloguing the five most popular videos each week on YouTube’s “news & politics” channel. It found that for five of the study’s 15 months, news-related events topped the most-searched list.
The study found the most popular news videos depicted natural disasters or political unrest in other parts of the world. In the week following last year’s massive earthquake in Japan, the 20 most watched news videos on the site all centered on the aftermath of the disaster and garnered a total of 96 million views.
And, unlike traditional TV news, Pew found that the length of the most popular news videos on YouTube varied greatly—the median length was just over two minutes.
According to the Pew study, the findings showed that a “complex, symbiotic relationship has developed between citizens and news organizations on YouTube, a relationship that comes close to the continuous journalistic ‘dialogue’ many observers predicted would become the new journalism online.”
The findings also showed that users worldwide are not only sharing news videos created by professional journalists, but that news organizations and companies are increasingly using citizen-created content for their news.
“Consumers, in turn, seem to be embracing the interplay in what they watch and share, creating a new kind of television news,” the report read.