YouTube as a News Source

We are accustomed to thinking about YouTube as an entertainment source. However, last week the Pew Research Center Project for Excellence in Journalism posted a report on YouTube revealed that YouTube is assuming an ever increasing role as a news source  and in fact, a news video can outpace even the most popular entertainment videos under particular circumstances.

The most popular type of news video consumed has been that shot at or near high profile current events, such as the tsunami in Japan or events recorded during the uprisings in the Middle East.   But interest in news video produced for YouTube has extended beyond that kind of event as well.

Moreover, what the report indicates is an increased symbiotic relationship between citizen shot footage and established traditional news outlets.  People still rely on traditional outlets, but turn to the on-the-ground footage to supplement their news intake and increasingly mainstream media is making use of this video in its own reporting.

Are there implications in healthcare?

On the one hand, perhaps not much.  The most watched video involved real time news events.  Could healthcare channels produce more “newsy” content that would stimulate interest in the content?  Government agencies seem to often try this – talking heads and faux news casts, and it is not an exciting format.

Real time news does happen in healthcare, though not perhaps in the same way as an uprising or a natural disaster.  Healthcare cannot compete with that.  But it might be innovative for some healthcare stakeholders, whether government agencies like FDA, pharma companies, professional societies or patient advocacy groups, to leverage the span of expertise available at a medical conference by staging a collection of interesting video interviews that provide the latest insights on new developments in the field.

For example, this week the International AIDS Conference is being held in Washington and present are experts in virtually every aspect of HIV/AIDS – from scientific to social research and back again.  A series of thoughtful interviews out of that conference if done well could increase traffic to a channel and provide a service at the same time.

YouTube has been a great medium for a lot of industries, but healthcare has lagged.  The insights from the Pew report may provide some insights into pathways to greater success as healthcare matures in social media.

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