When a white police officer recently threw a black teenager to the ground at a Texas pool party, 15-year-old Brandon Brooks captured the chaos on his cellphone camera. The video, uploaded to YouTube, triggered national outrage and prompted the officer to resign.
Now, YouTube is funneling similar eyewitness recordings to YouTube Newswire, a Google News Lab project launched Thursday. The project aims to curate newsworthy videos at a time when they are fueling national news topics such as police brutality and natural disasters.
“We live in a world where anyone can bear witness to what is happening around them and share it with a global audience,” the company said in a blog post. “YouTube has become a primary home for this powerful, first-person documentary footage.”
YouTube will collect videos in partnership with Storyful, an online news agency that mines social media for stories and was bought by News Corp. in 2013 for $25 million. Storyful, an Ireland company, had previously partnered with YouTube to document the raucous protests of Egypt’s Tahrir Square in 2011.
For the Record
June 19, 4:30 p.m.: An earlier version of this article said YouTube and Storyful had a partnership in 2013; it should have said 2011.
On Friday, Newswire featured videos including “Mumbai Rains: Doesn’t stop pouring!” uploaded from India and “Idiot at the fire (I needed to leave!)” which features close-up images of a raging wildfire in Washington. The site also displayed videos of memorials held for the nine people killed at a church in Charleston, S.C., on Wednesday. One video, recorded shakily on a hand-held device, revealed an emotional gathering at Goose Creek High School that paid tribute to teacher Sharonda Coleman-Singleton.
As it culls footage from independent videographers, YouTube said it is committed to checking its sources, and has tapped Storyful to ensure proper verification for the Newswire. It is also launching the First Draft Coalition to develop resources about verifying sources from social media. As well, the Witness Media Lab will highlight videos of global human rights issues.