Many Millennials don’t watch traditional television broadcasting on a traditional television set in a traditional living room. We watch user generated video on a laptop wherever we are, and oftentimes on YouTube. I mention it so frequently that I can hear myself saying it, “I only watch YouTube”, and until a few months ago I looked forward to watching YouTuber Casey Neistat’s vlogs everyday.
For over a year YouTube’s #1 YouTuber Casey Neistat vlogged every single day. It was an impressive feat for Casey and an engaging user experience for a few reasons: First, you really got to know Casey and his little (lovely) family. Secondly, you got a great bird’s eye view of New York City — Casey may have been the first, and possibly the only, YouTuber to engineer the DJI Phantom 4 Quadcopter drone with perfection. This stunning video Casey shot in Capetown, South Africa has proves just how talented Casey is as a filmmaker:
Casey is also a journalist. He speaks to his audience about issues and events that are bigger than he is, unlike many other YouTubers. He covered the election very thoroughly and was completely transparent with his 6.5 million subscribers about his support for Hillary.
Soon after Hillary lost the presidency to Donald Trump, Casey announced that he was ending his daily vlog because he wanted to spend more time with his family, yes, but also because he had been recruited by CNN to be a social journalist for their news network.
It was a brilliant move by CNN because Casey came to the network with 6.5 million Millennial viewers who already trusted Casey to be open and honest with them. You can see some of Casey’s journalism weave into his YouTube videos like this one from Donald Trump’s inauguration and this one titled ‘Muslim Ban at JFK Airport’ — it has nearly 6 million views.
What Casey’s collaboration with the news network did was give Casey the agency to report on current events as a legitimate new journalist, but in his personal style on a public platform. This is the quintessence of social media, what it was designed to be. CNN doesn’t “own” Casey, but they’ve elevated his ability to tell stories that matter to a broader audience on YouTube, and now he can report live. Casey’s audiences get to see things that traditional broadcasters probably wouldn’t air, like how this guy brought pizza for protestors at JFK who were hungry, and it really brings the viewer into the “here and now”. Social journalism is a really cool way to keep informed.
YouTube announced yesterday that they will be rolling out live streaming to mobile phones for YouTubers with over 100,000 subscribers. This move is certainly intended by YouTube to stake their claim in live video, so Facebook can’t have all the glory, and there are greater financial rewards for YouTubers who are successful with it. However, I think the real incentive is to inspire more creators to become real social journalists, like Casey.
Anybody can shoot live video but it will be the real social journalists and talented creators who will earn their audiences through hard work and a passion for telling stories that matter, and I hope that’s what YouTube has in mind.
The live videos will have all the same features as regular YouTube videos as they can be searched for, found via recommendations or playlists, and protected from unauthorized use, YouTube said.
I know this for sure: I’ll be keeping my eyes on Casey.