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Research Center: YouTube Is A Major News Source

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File photo of the YouTube homepage. (Photo by LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images)

File photo of the YouTube homepage. (Photo by LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC) - Information collected and analyzed by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism found that YouTube is being viewed as an increasingly prevalent news source.

Researchers began to take notice of the video website’s role in news dissemination when, following the breaking of several large-scale stories, people took to YouTube in droves for video coverage of the events.

“On March 11, 2011, an earthquake registering 9.0 on the Richter scale struck the coast of northeastern Japan, triggering a tsunami that would kill more than 18,000 people and leave an estimated $180 billion in damage,” the published study read. “In the seven days following the disaster … the 20 most viewed news-related videos on YouTube all focused on the tragedy-and were viewed more than 96 million times.”

The appeal of visual journalism, combined with the easily accessible nature of online videos, inspired similar responses following other major news items.

“In 2011 and early 2012, the most searched term of the month on YouTube was a news related event five out of 15 months, according to the company’s internal data,” the study noted.

Researchers found that users tended toward YouTube for coverage of natural disasters or political unrest – visually compelling stories – and that news can often trump entertainment in regards to what a YouTube user seeks out using the search function.

Both edited and raw footage were reportedly popular with YouTube users, with videos of notable figures ranking far lower. The length of the most popular videos varied greatly, Pew analysts noted.

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