YouTube’s Street View of the Ukrainian Conflict

When I want a news update, I go to Twitter. On Twitter I can find bite-sized breaking news from CNN, the BBC, and other news accounts that I follow. These Tweets lead me to nicely packaged articles and videos about the topic at hand. If I happen to know somebody who is involved in the event that is unfolding, Atlanta’s recent Snowpocalypse¬†for example, I can check my Instagram, Snapchat, and Vine feeds for on-the-ground photo and video updates from the people in my network. These three social outlets helped me see what was really happening on the ground through my friend’s eyes, though they are limited to a 6 second video or a single image that the platforms dictate. Where can I find a street view of events that occur outside my network?

With the recent political turmoil in the Ukraine, citizens and news organizations alike have turned their Social Media focus to YouTube to broadcast their messages. The magnitude of the political conflict is too vast to be expressed in a 140 character Tweet, a 6 second Vine video, or a single Instagram image, so YouTube’s long-format video medium has proven to be instrumental in passing unedited information around the world.

What does that mean to those of us that are on the outside of the conflict trying to get a bigger picture of what is going on? The excess of 90,000 YouTube videos uploaded since February 1st give us access to live streams, video clips, and news updates from many perspectives that take us inside the conflict and give us a broader understanding of the turmoil and chaos in the region. We can see this information through the lens of a local news station, a foreign news correspondent, or a citizen that decides to broadcast his or her personal experiences. Dispersing real time videos of the conflict from multiple perspectives gives those of us following remotely an unfiltered look into the true nature of the political crisis and it’s impact on everyday Ukrainian citizens.

On Social Media, it is paramount that the message fits the medium that you use to broadcast it. In the Ukraine’s case, YouTube’s long-format videos are better suited to our comprehensive understanding of the issues at hand than a 6 second Vine clip.