JMU Professor Discusses Impact of YouTube

Published: Jul. 17, 2012 at 6:37 PM EDT
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JAMES MADISON UNIVERSITY, Va - YouTube is becoming a popular website to get news videos.

Water flooded the James Madison University campus this weekend and it was caught on a person's cell phone. That

now has 5,000 hits.

JMU Communications Professor Brian Kaylor said it is not surprising that more people are using YouTube to watch news. He said it is because reporters cannot always be there right when breaking news happens.

"But you're going to have somebody there with a cell phone and they can pick up and start recording,” said Kaylor. “So I do think this is a growing trend because of how easy it is for people to record that. YouTube allows people to now upload it easily for free and therefore it gets shared pretty quickly."

The study shows one of the biggest topics people search for on YouTube: storm damage or natural disasters.

"Had there been a tsunami and then afterwards you go and get footage of the flooding. That's not quite the same as seeing those phenomenal waves roll in as they were captured as it happened, so that really changes the way we experience the news."

Claude Watson is a Valley neighbor, and he described how he uses YouTube at home.

"I was watching with my little nephew today some storm twisters and hurricanes and we were watching some sharks and stuff, so we go on YouTube a lot."

Campaign ads are another big news topic on YouTube. Kaylor said the website is a big help for candidates to reach more voters.

"So it has definitely leveled the playing field and it allows candidates to put footage out there, longer videos out there than they can perhaps pay for to put on television and get past the gatekeepers and hoping that people will come and watch a lot of what they have to say," said Kaylor.