YouTube Puts Spotlight On Eyewitness Videos Through New Initiatives: YouTube Newswire, First Draft Coalition, WITNESS Media Lab


YouTube's role in letting people from all over the world know about things that are happening have dramatically increased over the years. If a newsworthy event unfolds, it would most likely mean that a raw video has been uploaded by a person in YouTube regarding the said event.

With the importance of eyewitness videos, YouTube has changed the way news spreads throughout the world. The video sharing website is looking to take advantage of its unique position in new media journalism by launching three new initiatives, namely the YouTube Newswire, the First Draft Coalition and the WITNESS Media Lab.

YouTube Newswire

The YouTube Newswire channel, created in partnership with social news agency Storyful, is a special feed for the most newsworthy eyewitness videos uploaded daily. The Storyful team will verify the eyewitness videos, which can be embedded from their original sources.

YouTube is looking to give journalists an invaluable resource for videos on news stories, as sources and as new perspectives on current events. The Newswire will be able to feature both global and regional feeds.

First Draft Coalition

Eyewitness videos can be regarded as the first draft of documenting an event, but when using such videos within a news report, verification becomes critical, with most journalists not knowing how and where to start the process.

The First Draft Coalition is a group of social media journalism pioneers and leaders that would create resources to help journalists verify eyewitness videos, along with the ethics on using these videos in reports. The First Draft Coalition will together develop and program a website to verify eyewitness videos, teach ethics, release tools, further research and implement case studies on the biggest topics in news. This website will be launching in the fall, but in the meantime, journalists can access the group's Medium collection as a resource.


As YouTube has transformed into a platform wherein users can share eyewitness videos of human rights violations from all over the world, the WITNESS Media Lab, in partnership with international nonprofit organization WITNESS, will be a new way to tackle ongoing human rights problems.

The WITNESS Media Lab, though the collaboration of experts from different fields, will work on several projects that look to expose the human rights issues of today, as seen from the viewpoint of people that are experiencing the violations firsthand. The first project of the WITNESS Media Lab will focus on the impact of eyewitness videos in the search for justice against police brutality in the United States.

"We're proud of the role that YouTube and its creators have and continue to play in the ever-changing, ever-expanding news and information ecosystem, and we hope that these new projects will empower more journalists to use powerful eyewitness video easily and responsibly," wrote Google News Lab head of strategy and operation Olivia Ma in a blog post.

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