Diane Sawyer anchors the ABC's "World News." YouTube's… (Ida Mae Astute )
Political junkies will soon have a new place to get their campaign coverage fix.
YouTube on Wednesday launched an Elections Hub to provide extensive online campaign coverage. The new channel will feature political reporting and analysis from such established sources as ABC News, Al Jazeera English, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Univision, together with popular online sources Philip DeFranco and BuzzFeed.
In a reflection of the Internet’s growing importance as a source of news for viewers younger than 30, YouTube’s Elections Hub will offer live coverage of the Republican and Democratic national conventions and, for the first time, provide live streaming of the presidential and vice presidential debates.
“We’ve seen there is a huge demand for political news on YouTube,” said Olivia Ma, YouTube’s news and politics manager.
The campaigns of President Barack Obama and his likely Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, have uploaded more than 600 videos to their respective YouTube channels since April 2011, Ma said. Those campaign videos, and others mentioning the two presidential candidates, have collectively attracted almost 2 billion views on YouTube, she said.
With Election Hub, viewers will select the coverage they want to follow from a menu of options. Once they've made a choice, they'll be able to watch live and on-demand campaign coverage -- and participate in discussions.
Most Americans still get their campaign news from cable news outlets, which consistently rank ahead of network television newscasts, local TV stations and newspapers as the leading source of information about the candidates and the election, according to a report released earlier this year by Pew Research Center.
Still, the number of people going online to keep abreast of political news has nearly tripled since 2000 -- even though that growth has leveled off in the current election season because of a lack of interest among the younger users who are traditionally the most avid consumers of Internet news, Pew found.
Online social networks play an important role in how digital natives -- the generation that grew up with the Internet and connected devices -- get their news, said Jake Katz, general manager of youth market research firm Ypulse.
Katz said these young news consumers may learn about a developing story through Facebook or Twitter, then independently check other sources, including YouTube videos and blogs, to verify the accuracy of the information.
"Everybody is a bit of a journalist," Katz said. "What that means is that news can come from anywhere."
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