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26% of US Adults Get Their News From YouTube, Study Finds

In a study the Pew Research Center released today, 26% of U.S. adults said they now get their news from YouTube. That includes 23% via videos posted by news organizations and 23% from independent YouTube channels. Researchers surveyed 12,638 U.S. adults for the report. VentureBeat reports: “The study finds a news landscape on YouTube in which established news organizations and independent news creators thrive side by side — and consequently, one where established news organizations no longer have full control over the news Americans watch,” the authors wrote. The report defines “external news organizations” as both traditional media like the New York Times and digital-native outlets like BuzzFeed. Independent channels can include celebrities like John Oliver alongside “YouTubers,” the 30% who have built their following almost entirely on the platform.

While the report paints a picture of a thriving news ecosystem, it also notes some disturbing differences between traditional and independent sources. Independent channels, for instance, tend to be built around personalities, rather than a broader news organization. And those independent channels are far more likely to focus on conspiracy theories around subjects like anti-vaccine topics or Jeffrey Epstein’s death. The report analyzed 3,000 videos posted from the 100 top YouTube news channels in November and December 2019 and found that 4% involved conspiracy theories of some kind. But among independent channels, 14% of videos were primarily dedicated to conspiracy theories, and up to 21% made some mention of them. Only 2% of videos by traditional news organizations mentioned conspiracy theories. In addition, 37% of videos from independent channels tended to view their subjects through a negative lens, versus just 17% from news organizations. Perhaps unsurprisingly, that negativity seemed to drive more views, which has made this subset of independent channels particularly problematic for YouTube.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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