The YouTube as a Source for News panel took place on Friday at Summer in the City 2016. It featured BBC technology reporter Chris Foxx, TenEighty co-editor Teoh Lander-Boyce, and creator Em Ford. It was chaired by Hollie-Anne Brooks from We the Unicorns.
The panellists and audience discussed how YouTube is represented in the mainstream media as well as how creators can become the source for some news events.
An intimate audience were in attendance for the 12pm panel, which featured Hollie-Anne Brooks from We the Unicorns; Teoh-Lander Boyce from TenEighty; Em Ford from channel My Pale Skin; Daisy Buchanan, who was written for The Independent and The Debrief; Chris Foxx, technology reporter for the BBC; and Michaela Walters from PopBuzz.
Teoh credited the work of creators from the Gleam Team as the start of mainstream media beginning to pay attention to the YouTube world in a more serious light.
“They are so astronomically big that mainstream media had to start talking about them,” he said. “But also they are expertly managed.
“Book deals legitimised them as real celebrities, real talented people in the mainstream media’s eyes,” he added. “So now grandmas know who Zoella is when just five years ago they wouldn’t have.”
Daisy said: “Anyone in the public eye, I think the public sees them as fair game. I don’t think that’s always okay, and I think the media does have a responsibility to keep things nice and to keep things fair.
“YouTubers are brave,” she added. “They are honest and they are putting their lives online. But at the same time there are certain people who think, ‘Well, if you put yourself out there, we’re going to criticise you’, and I think that is absolutely true of this job, whether they write news, or whether they write books. So the fact that this is happening to YouTubers too, is just a sign of how enormous the whole industry has become.”
Em recounted the time that her video You Look Disgusting went viral and how she was forced to deal with the reaction despite having a full-time job. She later added that the main issue with the mainstream media is that they simply don’t understand the importance of YouTube within younger age brackets. “They just don’t get it,” she said. “They’re not invested in it.”
The panel only had time for two questions from the audience before their time ran out, with one person asking why it was the case that mainstream media would only discuss the YouTube community for a negative story, rather than report on their positive achievements such as participation in charity organisations.
Chris was quick to point out that as a technology reporter, discussing the work of YouTubers wouldn’t typically be something that would fall within his power. However, he did add that the BBC had launched BBC Trending to deal with this kind of issue.
He said: “When you talk about mainstream media doing negative stories, people always say to me, ‘Why don’t mainstream media cover more positive things about YouTubers?’. But you have to ask yourself, what is the news? Lots of people would love the news to be ‘Emma Blackery’s made a new pop video!’ and that’s fantastic, but that’s not news. It’s something that happens every few months.”
“When something goes wrong, then that does become news. And then there’s: ‘Who is it negative against?’ It’s against that YouTuber who has messed up, and of course you wouldn’t want that in the press if you make a mistake, but the mainstream media is there to hold you to account.”
Photos by Aria Mark.
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