Crack journalism is coming to the land of cat and Justin Bieber videos: YouTube is helping to launch a new channel with the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR). The new “I Files” channel will curate videos from sources such as The New York Times and Al Jazeera, in a attempt to bring some much needed attention to the fledgling investigative journalism space and bolster YouTube’s multi-million dollar foray into professional content. An $800,000 grant from the Knight foundation is seeding the channel, which will share revenue with its content partners.
To justify the partnership with a website normally associated with skateboarding dogs, the I Files team cites recent evidence that user-generated content on YouTube is a growing source of serious news for the average citizen. “That’s our assignment at The I Files,” writes Stephen Talbot for the Bay Citizen, “to be timely and relevant, to provide an outlet for a citizen journalist who captures an incredible moment on camera, but above all to dig deeper and to present well-reported and engaging stories that offer real information and insights.”
The YouTube project is part of the Knight Foundation’s push for philanthropically-funded local investigative journalism, which has been hit especially hard by the financial downturn of traditional media. Last year, the FCC released a report on the decline of journalists covering local politics, and speculated about the possible corruption and negligence going unnoticed. YouTube could potentially offset this problem with user-generated content and by incentivizing the CIR’s national partners, such as the BBC, with some added viewership.
But, just how much attention YouTube will give the I Files is unknown. A spokesman for YouTube tells TechCrunch that “we highlight all kinds of news content from time to time on the site, and often highlight new channels – so you can expect that in the first few weeks after launch we’ll look for opportunities on YouTube and social media to tell more people about it.”