YouTube’s emphasis and focus on more “reputable” news sources is no accident. Various commentators and content creators are being pushed to the back in favor of news organizations like Vox, CNN, and MSNBC. It’s a little less Steven Crowder and Phillip DeFranco, and a little more John Oliver and Jimmy Kimmel.
Thing is, this is happening under the direction of YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki who essentially admitted that when it comes to content creators, you’re going to the back of the line if it means someone from the New York Times or Washington Post have something to say about it first. YouTube users have made it very clear that they don’t like this and Wojcicki is making it very clear that she doesn’t care.
Wojcicki was on The New York Times’ “Rabbit Hole” podcast, where she admitted that she’s aware that users have turned away from watching what she describes as more “authoritative” news sources but said it won’t slow down YouTube from promoting them to the front over content creators.
According to Wojcicki, this decision of hers came about after the attack in Nice, France, back in July of 2016.
“I remember reading about it and being just extremely upset and thinking our users need to know about it,” Wojcicki said.
Wojcicki ordered major news networks to be pushed to the front of the page for users in France so that mainstream news was the first to be seen when Nice was searched for. Wojcicki was apparently warned that users didn’t really like this, but Wojcicki brushed this aside.
“It doesn’t matter. We have a responsibility. Something happened in the world and it’s important for our users to know,” Wojcicki said.
Despite its users and content creators not liking this prioritization of mainstream news sources, the Coronavirus outbreak made YouTube one of the primary sources for newsgathering. According to Bloomberg, YouTube’s viewership is up 75 percent:
News viewership on YouTube soared 75% in recent weeks from the same time last year, with millions of people turning to the video site for updates on the coronavirus, Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan told Bloomberg Television.
YouTube, part of Alphabet Inc.’s Google, reaches more than two billion viewers a month and has had a significant traffic surge since the pandemic took hold. One of the largest upswings went to videos the company classifies as “news,” according to Mohan. “People are trying to consume as much information around this crisis,” he said. “It’s top of mind for everybody.” He did not share the actual number of views.
So it’s highly unlikely that this decision will be reversed anytime soon. Sadly, this does run contrary to the purpose of YouTube, and that’s to allow regular Americans the ability to be heard in a much larger platform they wouldn’t normally have achieved on their own. Sadly, YouTube is just becoming another platform for mainstream media displays.