YouTube, the video-sharing unit of Google (GOOG) has launched a new product called YouTube Direct. Its purpose, according to the site, is to offer "a new tool that allows media organizations to request, review and rebroadcast YouTube clips directly from YouTube users."
The actual purpose of the Direct product is to help television outlets to get access to video collected by "citizen journalists." A local station in Cleveland, for example, could get clips of a fight at a Browns football game taken by someone siting in the stands.
The new tool allows television stations and cable news companies to filter for clips that may be useful to them. The application has benefits beyond those for news outlets, according to YouTube management. "Businesses can use YouTube Direct to solicit promotional videos, nonprofits can use the application to call-out for support videos around social campaigns, and politicians can use the platform to ask for user-generated political commercials."
All of that sounds exciting and useful, but the huge majority of user video posted on YouTube is junk, and it's questionable that news organizations would take the time to sift through citizen journalists' clips, even if one of them did have an interesting perspective on an event that the news agency couldn't cover itself. Most "citizen journalists" aren't journalists at all. They're camcorder hobbyists out for a good time who couldn't create a video with high enough quality for a TV station to use if their lives depended on it.
Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 24/7 Wall St.