Home > On cyberspace > Et tu, YouTube?

Et tu, YouTube?

Warning: The following blog is long and contains references to other media.

I listened to a radio ad recently for a story about the much-publicized Kingston mayor’s bout with the wife of a candidate for district attorney.

The lead of the story in the ad made much ado about the video ending up on YouTube.
As you may know from reading our blogs, we posted it — we had to, after all, since it’s news — — so I was confused about YouTube being part of the story.

The lead of the radio station story on its Web site reads: “KINGSTON, NY (2007-07-16) Kingston Mayor James Sottile and the wife of Democratic DA candidate Jonathan Sennett got into an argument. She punched him, they threw drinks at each other. And it’s all on YouTube. …”

The audio story ends with this when mentioning the YouTube posting: “Sometimes the context is lost without an objective reporter,” which is something I can agree with.

Which also is one reason why I posted on the YouTube page that the Freeman had the whole story. And If you click on the link about the person who posted it, you’ll also get a link to the Freeman Web site. The “context” was provided by Political Editor Hugh Reynolds with help from Freeman Reporter Paul Kirby and City Editor Jeremy Schiffres — all of them veteran journalists.

Alas, in retrospect, that might not have been enough.

Other local media and even a New York City daily made note of YouTube in their stories as well, and none of them mentioned who had posted it or why. And nobody bothered to contact the person who posted it (I would have gotten an e-mail, since that person was me.) Add to that the fact that I know most of the people who worked on those stories, and you’ve got yourself a confused editor.

I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. There is only so much time you can spend on a single story, and some information is not gathered (Follow up stories take care of that). Besides, who posted the video is obviously peripheral to the story itself. I also don’t think that our competitors would’ve been too happy saying the Freeman was the medium that posted the story online. In return, you might have noticed, I mention no news organizations by name (you know who they are anyway).

Notice also that the Freeman Web site — like every other Web site — has the same global reach as YouTube (though, obviously, not as many visitors). So posting it exclusively on our Web site, which we can’t do yet, had the same potential to reach as many people.

We saw it as a tool, especially as the “The video speaks for itself” quotes began piling up. We even quipped about giving our competitors a free bone (after all, they could have gotten the video themselves — like the New York City network did — and post it on their Web sites, if they have the capability). The pack, by the way, was happy to chew the bone. Most of them link to the YouTube page.

The security camera video was a primary source. The Freeman got a copy, and we put it online.

So, again, why was YouTube part of stories by other media?

Because, I want to believe, the reporters who worked on the story probably thought it was a random citizen who posted the video (“Broadcast Yourself” is the site’s motto). One paper even editorialized about being “leery about how the video … ended up on You Tube so quickly.” That speaks to an unwritten newsroom fear about unreliable reporting, (you may not believe me, but journalists are professionals –constantly learning and with an understanding of the written word, ethics, history and all the other goodies formal training provides).

A more cynical me thinks a lot of journalists are still struggling with the fact that newspapers are evolving, and video and audio are becoming part of what we do.

But an even more cynical me thinks the whole YouTube mention was a way for other media to link to the video without having to get it themselves or pay lip service to their competitor.

Think about it. Rework the lead on the radio story:

“KINGSTON, NY (2007-07-16) Kingston Mayor James Sottile and the wife of Democratic DA candidate Jonathan Sennett got into an argument. She punched him, they threw drinks at each other. And it’s all on the Freeman’s Web site.”

“Reporters do reporting” — no matter the medium –is not a story.

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Categories: On cyberspace
  1. July 26, 2007 at 11:04 pm

    Are you kidding me? The picture that was used on Midhudsonnews, CBS, and the Freeman was from Jeremy Blaber’s website. According to him he never received a photo credit. Being he is on Sennett’s campaign committee I’m sure he was kidding when he said that he was not given credit but still don’t they owe him that?

  2. July 26, 2007 at 11:28 pm

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. July 26, 2007 at 11:32 pm

    Anonymous is incorrect.Hank Gross (of Mid-Hudson News) got the video we posted. We know this because he also writes for us and our city editor talked to him when we saw his story with YouTube in it. And CBS got a copy of the video itself (out of seven that were made, according to a Mariner’s Harbor manager). So the network did its footwork, with similar results.Blaber, as you point out, is not a journalist, but a political operative, and I was not speaking about him, since I don’t know how he did whatever it is that he did.(But note that he occassionally just grabs stuff from us).Having said that, anybody could have taken a screen grab of the video (Ctrl+Print Screen on a PC or Apple+Shift+4 on a Mac). And, well, they all look the same, because the source is the same.I made 10 screen shots for the Freeman. And, to tell you the truth, I was unhappy with the quality of all of them, which forced us to circle where the incident took place.P.S. Feel free to post your name, if you feel like it. I don’t bite.

  4. July 27, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    I was making reference to the actual picture on the newscast and websites of Mrs. Sennett. Not the actual video. – John

  5. July 27, 2007 at 6:15 pm

    Thanks, John (can I call you John?), for the clarification.I know we used a photo of Mrs. Sennett we scanned from a political pamphlet from her husband. We didn’t use one online. Again, I cannot speak for other media.But note that the Freeman (and many others) don’t usually credit “mug shots,” which are posed portraits.That is, by the way, a matter of design, not cruelty to photographers. Just look at all the mug shots in the paper today.Having said that, who took the photo is as irrelevant as who posted the video.

  6. July 28, 2007 at 12:44 am

    No, Mr. Russo, Esq. I’m just kidding, you can call me John. Thank you for your clarification.

  7. July 29, 2007 at 7:58 am

    Should a Restaurant, Bar Or Club post this on the door? Warning Security Camera Video Likely To Appear On YouTube.

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