TubeChop for Journalism: How a YouTube Clip-Selector Can Help You (and Your Readers)

My favorite part of the comment section of YouTube is the ability to link a timestamp (say “0:31”) to a particular point in a video, letting someone just click on the “0:31” in blue and see, in full, the point you’re referencing.

It’s a great way of adding context to your comment, but unfortunately, it currently only works in the comment section itself. Discussing the contexts of a particular moment in YouTube videos, however, can also be advantageous for your journalism.

In my searching for other possibilities to add video context to journalism, I stumbled upon TubeChop—I suggest you give it a try.

TubeChop lets you take a YouTube video’s URL, pop it into their system, and then select and use a clip from a longer video. You can link to your selection, or you can grab the code for an embed to your news site or blog.

Why may it be useful for journalists to select shorter clips of longer video and implant them into their work using something like TubeChop? A quick embed can provide readers easy access to exactly what you’re talking about (say a quote in your written work, or a soundbyte), and notably, because of how the embed is set up, it additionally allows readers easy access if someone wants to investigate the greater context further.

With TubeChop embeds, all you have to do is click on a part of the embedded video to see the original source. This means that while the service is a good tool for you, helping tell a story, it’s also handy for your readers. The link to the original source video can let people more easily doublecheck your assessment of the situation, and engage them more easily in finding out for themselves what’s actually going on. (Imagine a TubeChop of the famous moment which is “You didn’t build that!”)

To show an example of what this basically looks like, here is one of my favorite YouTube baby-video gems: a cute baby tearing paper. (Yes, there are many of these.)

Good on its own (I’ll note that this is a short video, not a long hour-and-a-half debate), but what if I just wanted to talk about one specific point? Here is a very short TubeChop clip of that baby at my favorite part, approximately 0:31.

Neat, right? A time-saver to get to that roaring laughter. And if we did this in a post a bit differently – say in my post I only did a TubeChop of the baby laughing this massive laugh – you’d be able to click and see the greater context (which, here, is just more laughing).

This is a silly example, of course. It’s probably far more useful for digital storytelling when you’re considering the following:

Gaffes / Other Statements in Context

“Gaffes” and other public figures’ statements, for example, easily impact the public because of how they spread out of context. Some gaffes or statements are actually odd and could use explaining, others are not. The clues to figuring that out usually involve listening to the “soundbyte” and situating it in the context it was said.

I mentioned the Obama “You didn’t build that!” situation up above. You could also do the “investigate the quote” thing with Vice President Joe Biden saying that Planned Parenthood “under the law can’t perform abortions,” the “47 percent” comments from Romney, and so on (endlessly, so on).


Take tomorrow night’s presidential debate, for instance. There will certainly be lines that come out of it the next day and are used by either camp (I’m thinking another Big Bird moment). Wouldn’t it be nice to show the statement that’s getting play by campaigns, using something like TubeChop to show the greater context in which it was said?

I’m sure you could also smartly use TubeChop for quote-by-quote fact-checks of news events like debates, too, providing a good, more in-depth service for those interested.

Things you might have GIFed

Sometimes GIFs really do help tell stories online. Other times a short video could be better. You should have a choice. Selecting video clips is simplified with TubeChop, and it can additionally link you (easily) to the original source. Maybe that’s more compelling than how you’ve been using GIFs. Or maybe  you think TubeChop is better for some simpler reason, like it doesn’t automatically start when you land on a page. Both GIFs and short video clips can show similar material effectively (emotion, motion or both), and as a journalist or storyteller working to turn around a quick story, it’s worth knowing how to have easy access to both.

(Like the idea of TubeChop? An idea: Perhaps it’s also worth lobbying Google for a native version in YouTube.)