The YouTube video sensation is proving to be an unstoppable force in the world of journalism, especially in the context of world leaders and politicians. What can be a powerful tool and useful ally for those that get it right can also manifest itself as a dangerous opponent for those who do wrong.
YouTube is inescapable, dictators have attempting to restrict access by monitoring and blocking the internet and arresting those who post antigovernment messages. These attempts have largely been unsuccessful in stopping the onslaught of YouTube journalism. In the same way that embarrassments happening on a night out are inevitably destined for YouTube, so too are the political embarrassments from around the world.
The simple fact is that cameras are now everywhere. Where there are people, there are cameras. Approximately a third of the world’s population has a mobile phone and most of those come with cameras, poised ready to catch people at their best and worst then quickly tell the world about it.
Government crackdowns have instigated cyber wars in countries such as Egypt and Iran. Mostly, the civilians are winning the “geek off” that is taking place, using untraceable proxy servers to get their message out and avoiding capture.
Barack Obama has certainly reaped the benefits of this aspect of social media, not only during the election campaign, but also after he became president. In January 2011 he appeared on the latest offering which is YouTube World View, where the public post questions to be answered by the politician in question. Obama gave a lengthy 40 min video response and was largely appreciated according to the current stats -1,640 likes; 709 dislikes.
David Cameron followed suit in February although this ploy was not quite as successful for the British prime minister. He received 896 likes and a staggering 2,203 dislikes for his 25 minute video.