In 2005 a website was launched with the intent of creating a community where people could share videos of all kinds in a centrally located place on the internet. I don’t know that anyone truly knew the reach that YouTube would have in the coming years or the effects that it would have on multiple different media industries across the board — Journalism included.
When YouTube was in it’s toddler years, we saw creators shelling out content like “Evolution of Dance”, “Charlie Bit My Finger”, Rick-Rolling, and many other classics that have been stored in the farthest back files of our societal, media-memories. This was the “Viral Video” craze. You couldn’t go to a social gathering without one of these videos being brought up in some capacity. Along side the comedy content, we saw the inception of vlogging, and vloggers. Vloggers, as we all know, are people who spent their days documenting their lives to be shown in video format for the world to see. One of these individuals was Philly D (Philip DeFranco), or sXePhil as he was known then. He created content based on how he felt that week. It ranged from the vlog format to silly, humorous content, that some might say no longer fits with the times. He has apologized for this and has changed socially, expressing his embarrassment over the old content. However, he has kept said content up for transparency of his past and you can even find some awful little gems like this one about his dog and some horses:
Sometime in the late 2000’s he began to make a switch in content, producing videos of him talking about events that happened that week as well as pop culture news. This was the format that would take him to where he is today. In the midst of all of this, he founded a couple of different companies that were based around content creation. SourceFed was one of those companies. It had a profound influence on me and how I began to digest content. For the most part, it wasn’t exactly hard hitting news, but it brought a new generation of individuals, such as myself, towards news-like content, prompting a life-long love the the news genre for me. SourceFed has since closed, but it’s creators and employees have gone on to create tons of similar content on their own channels and through other collaborations — This includes Philip DeFranco. See the next video for a tad bit of the old SourceFed material.
Today Phil’s news segments are far more tethered to reality and tend to hit closer to home. He often states the facts of the situation, and then goes on to give his opinion (occasionally in a vulgar way) of said situation. His content has inherently become more journalistic in nature, as he has viewers constantly fact-checking his work, therefore he has been forced to be as credible as possible through things like citing his sources. His news and journalistic content has brought a slew of viewers into the political and social world that would not otherwise be a part of it. Most younger individuals aren’t able to afford things like cable tv, so they turn to internet and radio sources for their news. Not only were YouTubers essential in this shift to online media, but large corporations have since varied their content largely to include online sources. One big benefit to being an independent content creator is that you can create your own branding. This is super evident in DeFranco’s twitter account which often gives insight into what his video content will be based on for the week.
I would say it’s a pretty cool thing when an individual like Philip DeFranco, who started posting sub-par content in 2006, has had a visible effect on the way that we view current media. It makes you think that there is still hope for the little people wanting to make their mark on modern media in a positive way.
In the end, the way you choose to consume journalistic content is completely up to you. Of course it’s important to consume accurate information, but it doesn’t always have to be delivered in such a formal, dismal manner, like is often displayed in the modern cable media. Enjoy what you enjoy. Be the most you-est you.