Posted August 3, 2009 1:33 pm by with 6 comments

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youtube vampire logoYouTube has yet another new—or should I say news?—feature: News Near You. The New York Times reports that the biggest video site in the world is taking after it parent company (you know, Google?) in cornering the news market—or, if you’re the CEO of Dow Jones, “sucking the blood out of the newspaper industry.”

YouTube started promoting their news partnerships a month ago. Along with News Near You, which actually started in the spring, these are part of a larger news strategy for YouTube. The NYT reports that “nearly 200 news outlets have signed up with YouTube to post news packages and split the revenue from the advertisements that appear with them.”

There are some doubts about whether this is a good thing for news producers, however. The NYT says:

YouTube says it is helping TV stations and its other partners by creating a new — but so far not fiscally significant — source of revenue.

But news media companies may have reasons to be wary. Few TV stations have figured out how replicate profits on the Internet. YouTube can easily act as another competitor.

But it’s not just news stations in News Near You. In fact, the NYT says that “most” of these videos come from sources like radio stations, newspapers and colleges. Everything from enterprising locals to local businesses and churches is bringing relevant, localized video content in the new feature. This could be a gateway to further citizen journalism, especially with video phones to upload directly to YouTube.

However, the vampiristic element (it’s a great newsday when you get to use that phrase in a sentence!) in News Near You is far lower than in Google News. As the NYT reports, YouTube “is not sending digital spiders around the Web to collect videos automatically; instead, it is asking news outlets to sign up as partners and promising a wider audience for their material.”

And so far, the adoption rate is low. For the most part, News Near You has to rely on a 100 mile radius around users for their localized content. Clickthroughs on the module, however, seem to be going well. Steve Grove, head of news and politics for YouTube, “said about 5 percent of users who see the News Near You module watch at least one local news video, a rate that YouTube sees as encouraging.”

What do you think? Is 5% good enough? Do you want to see local news on YouTube? Would you rather see local news from individuals, businesses, or traditional news providers?