YouTube news can be attractive and effective — but it still needs to be verified | In Focus

Even well-respected outlets like Forbes can be selective in how they present the news.

Are you a YouTube news junkie like me? I spend a lot of time on YouTube watching what’s going on in the news, both nationally and internationally.

Over the years of watching, I have noticed several things about their marketing, both in selling ads and getting clicks. It’s important to understand how YouTube videos work and what to watch for.

First, the bigger the audience for a YouTube video, the more money that person makes. Note how many subscribers watch a certain video personality. The number is measured in the hundreds of thousands and into the millions. It is posted on the site. There is an enormous incentive to add to those numbers. High numbers indicate high skill levels in communicating perspectives.

Secondly, before each YouTube video are a few clips of commercials. Those clips do not necessarily relate to what’s going to be broadcast. Weight loss commercials are common. One purported doctor testifies that drinking olive oil daily will cause you to lose weight. Another frequent ad shows a really muscular man who tells you his way to lose weight—increase your testosterone—without having to exercise.

Once I saw an ad for a power sprayer for cleaning my gutters. I ordered it, but it was made of flimsy plastic which broke within seconds of using it. After that experience I decided I wouldn’t be conned by future ads, no matter how enticing the product. There doesn’t seem to be much government oversight for these ads. Many of them remind me of late 19th century snake oil sellers. Coca Cola became popular in the early 20th century because it contained cocaine. Smoking in the 1940s and 1950s was deemed good for you and glamorous.

A real clue that the product being offered is a scam is when viewers are told that someone, usually the government or the medical profession, is trying to suppress this information. That’s a warning light. It is based on distrust and suspicion of authorities. It’s an effective approach, but it appeals to a certain type of person who believes the powers-that-be, whoever they might be, are trying to keep something from you.

Third, how do you know whether the personality or the topic you are watching is legitimate? Check the source. If you see its CNN or MSNBC, you will be getting accurate information that is biased toward the progressive side. A video where some Republican member of the House of Representatives like Marjorie Taylor Greene or Loren Boebert is “humiliated” or “destroyed”, tells you their bias upfront.

Recently Forbes Breaking News created videos where segments of Senate or House Hearings are presented. Senator Ted Cruz or Josh Hawley is shown pressuring some presidential appointee candidate for a bureaucratic position. One candidate was shown trying to answer questions posed by Ted Cruz, and then being rudely cut off by their inquisitor. Most of the time was spent by the senator who used his time to spout what he believed rather than actually finding out what the candidate believed.

On one occasion on a Forbes video, an archivist candidate for the National Archives was grilled by Senator Josh Hawley for making a statement on a Twitter account that supposedly showed how she had lied to the committee. It also became clear to me that the candidate had been coached not to lose her temper in spite of the ridicule, harassment, and pressure. She had been coached to repeat the statement over and over that what she had said on her Twitter account was private information. From these videos, I learned to be suspicious of Forbes.

Forbes videos present the conservative perspective without taking into account that the senator or representative is part of the radical fringe of the Republican Party.

Fourth, comedians are great commentators for the progressive side. They break down defenses by making people laugh at the absurdity of some Republican comments. Stephen Colbert and John Oliver are two examples. Their insights are very valuable. It’s sad that they must be so crass and vulgar with their humor. It seems that they have a quota of sexual or bodily process words they must fill for every monologue.

The best comedian video I saw was an interview by commentator Jake Tapper of comedian Bill Maher. Maher was making his predictions for the 2024 presidential race. Another was of comedian Jon Stewart being interviewed by CNN’s Fareed Zakaria. Stewart shared his insights as to why Republicans bring up culture war topics. Stewart observed that Republicans don’t have any ideas.

These are things to watch for if you are a YouTube news junkie like me. Don’t be deceived. Check the numbers. Watch for scams. Check the sources. Watch for bias.