Newspapers on YouTube: Dos and Don'ts

As recently as a year ago, very few newspapers had their own YouTube channels. Many media organizations were hesitant to share their content on a site they had relatively little control over. Now more than 150 newspapers are realizing the benefits of posting video on the site, including attracting viewers who would not otherwise see their content.

The following is a map of those newspapers (click here for a larger, interactive view, as well as an interactive table). If your local newspaper does not appear on the map, please send an email to…and then send them the tips below:

DO customize the look of the channel

By default a YouTube channel is black text on a white background, but the site allows for custom colors and images. Make sure your channel stands out from the pack. For a good example of what a properly branded channel looks like, check out the Las Vegas Sun, the Explorer News (Ariz.) or the Orlando Sentinel.

DO NOT leave the description area blank

A keyword-laden description is essential for SEO purposes and for users who are searching for a specific newspaper’s content to actually find it. It should include the full name of the newspaper, a link back to the website and the name or names of the city or area the paper serves. The Randolph County Herald Tribune, for example, lists each of the cities it covers, which is ideal for smaller newspapers trying to reach viewers in those communities.

DO use a custom thumbnail

YouTube automatically extracts an icon from the first video uploaded, which means many icons are random news subjects. Once the waiting period has passed, change the icon to a perfectly square, thumbnail-sized image of your logo or masthead.




DO include bumpers

Establish brand identity by including a logo and web address before and/or after each video posted to YouTube. No long prerolls necessary, just a reminder where viewers can find more excellent content.

DO NOT use a nickname as a username

Ideally, an official newspaper YouTube channel should use the full name of the newspaper as the username for brand recognition and search engine optimization (i.e. TheOaklandPress or WellingtonDailyNews). For example, instead of bcd47448, use BrownCountyDemocrat. This information applies to not-yet-created channels, as YouTube does not allow users to change their existing username.

DO NOT allow videographers to be renegades

A few YouTube channels consist of a single videographer producing content for the newspaper, but are under their own name (and thus are not listed here). Any officially sanctioned videos should be on a channel under the newspaper’s name, not the videographer’s. This is not only good for search, but establishes authority and brand identity.

DO let users submit video

Simply uploading the newspaper’s proprietary video content follows the old media model of having a one-way conversation with readers. YouTube is a social video network, meaning all users should invite and encourage as much interaction as possible.

DO treat YouTube as an extension of the newspaper site

This means checking in often, uploading fresh content (many newspaper channels are sadly inactive) and reading comments. A YouTube channel should represent the quality readers have come to expect from the paper.

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