Conversation starter

Does your news organization credit YouTube or the video creator?

A Twin Cities journalist who asked not to be named sends this email:

The Minneapolis Star Tribune did something that is one of my biggest pet peeves in the journalism world. Up here yesterday, we had a 200-person brawl at Mall of America. Being 2011, someone took video of the melee on their phone. And being 2011, someone posted it to YouTube. The Star-Tribune posted it to their site, but instead of embedding the video via YouTube, they imported it into their own player. One can only assume this was to put ads in front of it. I think that’s tacky, but not terribly so.

But where they really screwed up, in my sometimes-humble opinion, is they credited the video to “YouTube,” rather than to the creator of the video. I think that’s analogous to the Star-Tribune being credited as “The paper.” I think a lot of journalists think anything that’s on YouTube or Flickr is their’s for the taking and there’s no need to credit the actual creator of the work. It smacks of that whole idea that anything on the Internet is fair to use. Ask Judith Griggs how that turned out for her!

I did some searching and found that most news outlets credited YouTube for their Mall melee images. The screenshot above — from Google Images — was also credited to YouTube.

I’ve invited the Star Tribune – check your email Stan Schmidt! – to respond.

UPDATE: Terry Sauer, Assistant Managing Editor/Digital, sends this response:

Regarding the YouTube videos on the Mall of America violence Monday, we probably could have crafted a tighter credit line, but the reasons behind going this route included our wanting to grab a compilation of more than one video since none on their own were all that great, being able to dub out the foul language and also not subject users to the racist comments on YouTube. In addition, crediting users on YouTube generally only yields an anonymous user name, and not their real name. I’ll also point out we do not have any preroll advertising on this video.



  1. Darell said:

    This is a pet peeve of mine as well. Our TV news department just recently started putting a courtesy on YouTube vids. But for a long time we did not. We courtesy the video creator.

    We also pull pictures from all over the web & don’t courtesy them & don’t check what the original source is. I’ve had a producer tell the graphics dept. to “just google it, it’s the second or third hit.”

    We would never use a pic from our local newspaper but have no problem using an image from newspaper or magazine websites in other cities.

    Additionally, just because you courtesy the video or picture does that make it legal to use it? The courtesy doesn’t just get you off the hook does it?

    These issues will continue to get murkier as we move forward.

  2. Garry said:

    I think that sometimes it’s impossible to credit anyone but YouTube due to the fact that that the same video is reposted many times by other people.
    So trying to figure out who actually took the original video is difficult.

  3. David Hobby said:

    It’s not so much a “pet peeve” as it is infringement. While the user granted usage and embedding rights via the YouTube TOS, it never granted the MST the rights to host and republish the video — and presumably, to monetize it via an preroll ads.

    They’ll keep doing it though, until someone sues their ass over it.

  4. John Kroll said:

    Terry Sauer and the Star Tribune may have good intentions, but none of the reasons he cites would justify taking users’ content from Yahoo and placing it in the Trib’s system.

    By doing so, the paper is stealing away the users’ views, evidently without their permission. By crediting only “YouTube,” it’s not even giving the users name recognition — and on the Internet, one’s user name is part of one’s identity, often more recognized than their real life name.

    Can the Star Trib explain how this would be different from grabbing photos from Flickr for print or republishing stories from an online magazine?

    And the remark that “none on their own were all that great” is somewhat infelicitous, since the YouTube users, after all, got video that the Star Trib didn’t.

  5. Garry said:

    John Kroll: Do you expect the Strib to have someone posted at the mall 24/7 in the faint hope there will be a riot?
    That was a spot news video, caught by people who were there at the mall.

  6. Don Lee said:

    Garry: And that justifies swiping it?

  7. Brian T said:

    Garry says: “So trying to figure out who actually took the original video is difficult.” So when something is “difficult,” we don’t have to make the effort or follow the rules? “Figuring out which of the defendants fired the fatal shot would be difficult, so we’ll just execute them all.”

  8. John Kroll said:

    @Garry: No, I don’t expect the the Strib to have someone at the mall 24/7. I do, though, think it’s not nice to insult the quality of the work you’re, ah, borrowing. Kinda like a burglar leaving behind a note complaining that the silver was tarnished and there were smudges on the flat screen.