Every minute, 10 hours of videos are uploaded onto YouTube, so proclaims the next big thing, Steve Grove, on CitizenTube, a blog and YouTube site that offers political and news-related videos. What Citizen Tube does is highlight the best videos users have either created or uploaded that are making an impact on the web.
The interested public has simply decided to take matters into their own hands. They no longer wait for journalists to dig up stories; they find them, post them, and the journalists then report on them. Take a recent video of a disgruntled Hillary Clinton supporter that was made and posted by the lefty site, Firedoglake.com. The elderly woman was caught on tape saying Hillary was our last chance and that no way could Barack Obama win the presidency.
It was a shrill and hysterical rant and it became the talk of the net. It was then on CNN and The Daily Show. Some gave credit back to the source, others did not. One thing was for sure – it wasn’t anything any network could have taped and aired. It was guerilla news from the trenches by people who are on the spot with their low-tech camera at the ready.
Many people, in fact, go to YouTube to find news on anything these days, because if it’s happening in real time, chances are something about it is on YouTube. CitizenTube simply enhances this power. Is it good or bad? Who knows. It, like Wikipedia, is self-checked. The readers keep the providers honest. Fake news gets around, sure. But more often than not, the user-generated stuff is what’s hot.
It must be tough for the wire reporters to keep up or get a leg up on the instant, 24-hour news reporting. CitizenTube is all self-proclaimed “YouTube Politics.” To that end, it’s democracy at work. It’s also yet another dude making serious cash off the Internet generation. When will the madness end?
Already, there are hoards of disenfranchised people who simply can’t keep up with the rapidly evolving technological trends. Most people I know don’t even know how to use YouTube, or if they did it wouldn’t mean much to them except that every once in a while they can find something funny or get Rick Rolled.
But think of what a powerful tool “YouTube Politics” is. One piece of viral video can badly damage a candidate, and no one can do anything about it until it’s too late. To that end, candidates now have to have a clean record but also watch everything they say and do because someone, somewhere may have a camera on them.
That woman on the Firedoglake video had no idea someone was catching her tirade on camera and she is without any rights as to whether or not it can be shown on YouTube. Even if it was illegal, who would police YouTube? She’d have to sue everyone, and by then all that would do would make anyone who hadn’t seen it eager to see it.
Right now, some of the favorites on CitizenTube are a Bill Clinton speech on fear vs. hope, Ronald Reagan’s reaction to the explosion of the Challenger, a Ralph Nader interview, and the YouTube/CNN debate. There is a sense that this new mode of communication must be embraced. The networks, the candidates, the voters, the corporations – everyone will embrace, and probably ultimately corrupt, this pure form of communication. Until that time, however, here’s to hoping your next big link is not a Rick Roll.