Friday, December 19, 2008

Project Report - Vote for the Winner!

The final videos are in for the third and last round of Project: Report, the journalism contest YouTube is holding in partnership with the Pulitzer Center. Now is your chance to view the five finalists' submissions and vote to determine which of these aspiring journalists you think should win the grand prize -- a $10,000 fellowship with the Pulitzer Center to report on a story abroad.

At the outset of Round 3, the five finalists were each given two Sony video cameras. With these video cameras, their assignment was to produce a piece of collaborative storytelling that empowered an underrepresented community to share its own story with the world. First, each reporter chose a group of people rarely covered by the traditional media. Then, the reporter helped the members of this group use the camera to document their own lives.

Visit the Project: Report channel to watch the finalists' Round 3 submissions and then vote for the videos you find the most compelling. You can only vote for one video per day, and voting continues through Friday, January 9, 2009. The winner will be announced on Monday, January 12, 2009 -- so stay tuned!

Olivia M.
YouTube News & Politics

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Keeping an Eye on the Federal Government

The Washington Post's Ed O'Keefe, who writes the Federal Eye blog on, has started a project called "Ask Your Government" in which he gathers questions from everyday citizens and takes them to the powers-that-be on Capitol Hill.

In this video, which he posted to the Washington Post's official YouTube channel, Ed illustrates his new initiative by interviewing people on the streets of Washington to find out what they'd like to ask their government leaders.

Now, Ed is asking for everyone to participate. Using a new discussion tool called Google Moderator, you can submit questions that you want answered from the various departments, agencies, and offices in the federal government. What do you want to know about how the new administration will institute new policies and enact real change?

Pose your question here, and then vote on other questions that you think are important. Ed will select some of the top ranked questions every few weeks, pose them to those in Washington who have the answers, and post the answers on theFederal Eye blog and on YouTube.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Win a Trip to Davos on YouTube

[cross-posted on the YouTube Blog]

It's been a year of crisis in the global economy. The collapse of credit has left countless people in crushing debt, prompted governments to bail out their nation's strongest companies and brought instability to markets that had seen decades of fast growth in a newly globalized economy.

That's the bad news. The good news is that it often takes a crisis to bring about change.

This year at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, the world's top thinkers and leaders will gather to discuss how to bring about that change. They believe that fresh solutions have to come from fresh sources, so they're asking for your help: YouTube is partnering with WEF to give you the chance to join the debate on four key issues facing the planet today. One lucky YouTuber will even get to fly to Davos, all expenses paid, to attend the Forum, which takes place January 28-February 1, 2009.

It's called the Davos Debates - and there are four main topics being discussed: the economy, politics, ethics, and the environment. Go to the Davos Debates YouTube channel to vote on the 4 questions - or add your own video outlining your ideas for shaping the post-crisis world. WEF will choose the top video submitted by January 20, and that person will get to fly to Switzerland to join the discussion in person.

In addition, many of your videos will be played at panel sessions at Davos, where world leaders will listen to your thoughts and opinions as they debate these issues. Tell them your personal stories: how are the world's new challenges affecting your life, and what do you want to see happen next?

We live in a world that continually presents new challenges but also offers seemingly limitless possibilities. This is your chance to impact history with your own creative ideas. So submit your video by January 20, and help shape our collective future in 2009.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Election's Over, but Campaign Keeps Posting

November 4th was over a month ago, but the Al Franken campaign for U.S. Senate in Minnesota just released this video on YouTube of people's personal stories about the re-count there. His opponents are calling it a low-blow, but it's gaining traction on YouTube with over 35,000 views in a race that is still yet to be decided. Take a look at "My Vote":

Monday, December 8, 2008

Bjorn Borg Drops Briefs to Promote Peace

Who says washed-up tennis stars can't stop wars? Bjorn Borg, the Swedish tennis player who won eleven Grand Slam titles in seven years, has a new challenge on his hands -- promoting peace in a rather unconventional way. His campaign, aptly titled "Peace on Earth," asks supporters to "choose a warmonger" (the website offers several suggestions like Kim Jong Il, Hugo Chavez, and Robert Mugabe) to receive a pair of old "not sexy" underwear.

Borg has been using YouTube to spread his underwear campaign to an international audience. This recent video, featuring Borg himself, documents the first "underwear drop-off" of over 19000 pairs to President Bush (who received the most number of votes on the website):

Borg is still encouraging citizens to send him their old underwear, which will be used in a future delivery -- the next recipient has yet to be decided.

CEOs Fighting Corruption on YouTube

Corporate executives around the world are teaming up to fight global corruption, and in honor of International Anti-Corruption day on December 9, CEOs and leaders of the World Economic Forum's Partnering Against Corruption Initiative (PACI) are inviting the YouTube community to send their suggestions for how to fight corruption.

If you have ideas abut how corporations and world leaders might crack down on illegal bribes and other abuses of power, you can add your comments and reply videos in response to their call-out:

Among the 140 leaders who have joined the PACI, here's a list of the CEOs appearing in this video:
Peter Bakker, Chief Executive Officer, TNT, Netherlands; Alan L. Boeckmann, President and Chief Executive Officer, Fluor Corporation, USA; Samuel A. DiPiazza Jr, Chief Executive Officer, PricewaterhouseCoopers International, USA; and Richard OBrien, President and Chief Executive Officer, Newmont Mining Corporation, USA.

These CEOs argue the importance of fighting this widespread corruption by stating that each year, 1 trillion US dollars is lost in bribes around the world, which is enough to feed 400,000 million starving people for 27 years.

They promise to respond to some of these ideas and send another update directly from Davos, Switzerland at the Word Economic Forum in January 2009, so stay tuned for more.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Panel in DC: New Opportunities for Open Government

We're doing a talk on Friday, 12/12 in at the Google DC office entitled, "Creating New Opportunities for Open & Participatory Government". The panel we'll be moderating will feature the following speakers:

  • Jeff Eller, President & CEO, Public Strategies; former White House Director of Media Affairs under Clinton
  • Sam Graham-Felsen, Director of Blogging and Blog Outreach, Obama for America
  • Cyrus Krohn, eCampaign Director, Republican National Committee
  • Buffy Wicks, Missouri State Director, Obama for America
You can find out more in the post below, from Google's Public Policy blog.

Google D.C. Talk next week: Opening government to citizen participation

[Posted by Galen Panger, Global Communications and Public Affairs]

This past election brought more people than ever into the political dialogue -- as observers, commentators, voters, volunteers and contributors. Now how will that energy be transferred to the realm of governing?

We'll explore that question next Friday, December 12, at the second of three Google D.C. Talks focused on a policy agenda for the Obama Administration and 111th Congress. Open government advocates in two panels will share their ideas about how technology can help government become more accountable, transparent and participatory.

And to make sure we're walking the participatory walk, we invite you to submit and vote on questions for our panelists ahead of time via Google Moderator.

Google D.C. Talks presents the second in a three-part series
"Tech Agenda 2009: Creating New Opportunities
for Open & Participatory Government"

Friday, December 12, 2008
10:00 AM - 11:45 AM ET
Google Washington Office
1101 New York Avenue, NW, Second Floor
Washington, DC 20005
Click here for more details and to RSVP

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Transition Team responds to Citizen's Questions on YouTube

Tom Daschle & Lauren Aronson respond to questions submitted on, with this YouTube video.

CitizenNews Report of the Day

The New Jersey Star Ledger lets News Jerseyans create and program their very own television programming via TV Jersey. They take what citizens produce and promote it on This piece profiles Sister Jean Webster, a woman who helps serve meals to hundreds of poor and homeless residents of Atlantic City.

Monday, December 1, 2008

CitizenNews Report of the Day

After months of rains in Santa Catarina, Brazil, devastating floods have ravaged large parts of the country, killing hundreds and displacing thousands. This clip, found courtesy of Global Voices, was captured by a civilian who happened to be standing on his balcony with a video camera on hand as a powerful gush of rain water bursts over a hill, destroying the buildings in its path.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

CitizenNews Report of the Day

Shawn -- a globetrotter dedicated to reducing global poverty and posting reports of his work to his YouTube channel, the Uncultured Project -- heard about a new water purifier system in Kenya that leverages nanotechnology to purify water from even the dirtiest sources. He decided to test it out himself...on water that had been contaminated by fecal matter, no less.

Watch his video to see how things turned out...

YouTube Users Respond to Crisis in the DR Congo

Since August of this year, the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo has seen 250,000 Congolese citizens forced to flee their homes. As the death toll and refugee counts increase, people on the frontline of efforts to help are utilizing YouTube to speak out against the violence.

Nonprofit organizations are using the site to raise awareness about the conflict and to raise funds that are desperately needed to provide food, medicine and sanitation for the refugees. UNICEF uses video to explore a day on the ground at one of the refugee camps in DR Congo, while Doctors Without Borders depicts the struggles of the displaced through a powerful slideshow. And if you'd like to contribute more than just your viewership, the Disasters Emergency Committee recently posted an appeal on behalf of the UK's 13 leading charities for YouTube users to donate funds:

Individual YouTube users have also been raising their voices to demand that more be done to end the fighting. This UK citizen asked Prime Minister Gordon Brown why he recently spent more time talking about British celebrities than the dire situation in DR Congo.

You can join this important conversation -- if you have thoughts about the humanitarian crisis, please add them in the comments or detail them in a video.

Monday, November 24, 2008

CitizenNews Report of the Day

A journalist captured footage of a dozen Greenpeace activists being bullied and attacked while protesting at a coal mine in Western Poland.

The 2008 Election on YouTube: A mash-up

We premiered this mash-up at YouTube LIVE! on Saturday night in San Francisco - it chronicles the 2008 Election as it unfolded on YouTube. James Kotecki, aka Emergency Cheese, was kind enough to come to San Francisco and introduce the piece for us.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

President-elect Obama announces stimulus planning on YouTube; now using captions to reach global audience

This week's video address from the President-elect announced an economic stimulus plan he plans to set in motion soon after inauguration. After a brutal week on Wall Street, Obama is taking action to boost consumer confidence before he even takes office; he claims the plain will bring 2.5 million jobs.

The Obama team is now using YouTube's caption functionality, so that people around the world can translate his weekly address into their language. The captions also allow seniors or those with weak eyesite to read clearly what the President-elect is saying in his videos.

Friday, November 21, 2008

CitizenNews Report: Gay Marriage in Nepal

A Nepalese blogger from Instablogs, a global network of citizen journalists, reports the Nepali Supreme Court has upheld the right to gay marriage. They point out that "gays from South Asia once used to seek asylum in the United States," but that given the recent passing of Prop 8, banning gay marriage in California, "Californians may now be heading to Nepal to get married in the shadow of the Himalayas."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

CitizenNews Report of the Day

Purple States, a news organization that helps elevate high-quality citizen reporting and user-generated news content, has launched a new series called 50 bloggers, 50 states, and 50 days. Every day, they post a new video from a blogger talking about how the financial crisis has affected him or her and the local economy in that state.

Check out Marcio DaSilva, an immigrant from Brazil, video blogging about tough economic times in Georgia:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

President-Elect Obama and Rep. Ed Markey Discuss Climate Change on YouTube

The Presidential Transition Team is ramping up their YouTube presence on their YouTube channel, Changedotgov. Yesterday, President-Elect Obama delivered an unexpected speech via video to the bi-partisan Governors Global Climate Summit in Los Angeles, outlining his stance on the need for aggressive climate change and international cooperation in fighting global warming.

Representative Ed Markey, who chairs the US House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, posted a video of himself watching the video on YouTube and offering his response.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

SF Mayor takes unique approach to a "talking head" video

Just came across this from SF Mayor Gavin Newsom's channel. Whatever your view point on Proposition 8 in California, it's worth taking a look at this piece - it's very well done. By filming him as he prepares for and delivers a TV interview on the topic, the Mayor's video team makes Newsom seem more human, more personally affected by the issue. The style also does a good job of casting him as a fighter for this cause, someone who is out in front of the media campaigning on the issue. Worth a look.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Your Weekly Address from the President-Elect, on YouTube

Let the "YouTube Presidency" begin:

Friday, November 14, 2008

Coming up: Pres-Elect Obama does fireside chats on video

We learned today from Pres-elect Obama's transition team that he'll be taping his first-ever weekly radio address and posting it to YouTube tomorrow morning. The Washington Post's Jose Antonio Vargas reports that the weekly Democratic radio address will be taped in Chicago today and uploaded to Obama's ChangeDotGov YouTube channel. This squares with what then-Senator Obama told us back in November of 2007 during a YouTube interview - he plans to do weekly fireside chats on video as president. Already Changedotgov is ramping up it's video content, posting its first transition 'update' direct-to-the-Tube from Valerie Jarrett, transition team co-chair. Read more in Vargas' column.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Digg Dialogue with Al Gore and Digg let you ask the questions in this three-part interview with former Vice President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The State Department keeps up its saavy on YouTube

We reported awhile back that the U.S. State Department launched a contest on YouTube, asking citizens around the world to submit videos answering the question, "What is Democracy?" This came from the office of public diplomacy, who realize all too well the power that the Internet can have to shape global perceptions of the United States.

Now, State's public affairs team is engaging citizens here at home directly through a series of "Briefing 2.0" sessions. Citizens across the country can submit questions for Sean McCormick, the State Department's spokesman, and he'll answer them in bi-weekly press conferences. Already one session into the project, McCormick seems to be enjoying the chance to engage with citizens directly.

The next session is on November 20th, and you can submit your questions as a reply video to the video below. We suggest the State Department bring more focus to these briefings by centering them on particular topics, a suggestion they've said they'll consider. As the Obama Administration brings new minds to the State Department next year, this idea will be a good one to keep.

Friday, November 7, 2008 "It's a New Day"

Creating the most-viewed clip of the 2008 election wasn't enough for - he just came out with his first video since the election, "It's a new day". Check it out:

Citizentube Friday Five

A historic election, a historic outcome. Here’s this week’s Friday Five.

President-Elect Barack Obama in Chicago (barackobamadotcom)

Senator Barack Obama’s speech after becoming the next President-Elect.

Senator John McCain Election Night Speech (Full Video) (CSPAN)

Senator John McCain concedes defeat in the 2008 Presidential race.

Obama Win Causes Obsessed Backers To See How Empty Lives Are (TheOnion)

Now that the presidential race is over, what will Obama supporters do?

Obama Fever in Africa (Africanews)

Africans all over the continent react to Obama’s victory.

President-Elect Barack Obama Victory Speech (gettyimages)

Photo essay of President-Elect Obama’s victory speech.

Your Election, Documented on YouTube

To mark Tuesday's historic presidential election, thousands of Americans documented their voting experience on camera and shared it with the world on YouTube. We launched the Video Your Vote program in partnership with PBS to encourage and collect these videos in one place and provide a unique perspective on democracy-in-action.

From enthusiastic first-time voters to African-Americans celebrating the opportunity to cast a ballot for Barack Obama, many Americans brought their video cameras to the polls simply to chronicle their excitement and produce a record to share with their grandchildren. Others focused on election protection, documenting long lines in inclement weather, broken voting machines, and instances of voter intimidation.

In addition:

  • Parents brought their children to vote, and volunteers shuttled the elderly to their polling places.

  • Eager young voters rose before the sun to get in line, and brand new citizens exercised their right to vote as Americans for the first time.

  • Some voted happily in the privacy of their own homes, while others drove to the nearest McDonalds to fill out a ballot while picking up a happy meal.

And when the votes were counted, people from around the world shared their reactions to the election of Barack Obama as our next President.

Over 2,000 videos (and counting) have poured into the Video Your Vote YouTube channel thus far, and each one is being plotted onto a Google Map, weaving a rich tapestry of voter video diaries. Search for a specific location to see videos uploaded near your home.

For more, check out the Video Your Vote channel.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Videos from polling places pouring on to YouTube

Videos are pouring into our Video Your Vote channel at a rate of around 100 per hour today. Our map almost has 1,000 videos, several of them documenting polling place problems and many more giving perspectives of first-time or excited voters casting their ballots in this historic election.

Check out the map, and then follow these playlists for the best videos in each category.

Voter Intimidation:

Long Lines at the polling place:

Moving Voting Stories:

Election Day on YouTube - What to Look for

[cross-posted from the YouTube blog]

After thousands of campaign stops, tens of thousands of speeches, and billions of videos viewed on YouTube, the 2008 Election is finally here. What began almost two years ago -- when seven of the 16 primary presidential candidates announced their campaigns on our You Choose '08 platform -- is finally coming to a close as Americans turn out to vote for who should lead the country these next four years.

The influence you've had on this political season has been well noted in this blog and by most every major media outlet in the world. Your use of video to document and describe this Election on your own terms has created a new, more democratic political ecosystem and has caused many to call this the "YouTube Election." But while the profound increase in online activity has reshaped our national dialogue in so many new ways, today is where we see just how much it matters: the ultimate political action isn't to upload a video to YouTube or to watch "Yes We Can" or "We Need McCain" one more time; it's to vote.

Today we're featuring all political videos on the homepage of YouTube; check them out and get a flavor for what's coming in on Election Day. We're also plotting videos of your polling place experiences on a special Google Maps mash-up on our Video Your Vote channel with PBS. So bring your video camera with you to your polling place to document your experience; then submit your videos to the Video Your Vote channel and keep an eye on PBS's Election coverage -- they'll broadcast the best ones on TV.

Monday, November 3, 2008

You Choose '08: Monday Hotlist

One. Day. Left. Here's this week's Monday Hotlist.

"We Have a Lot of Work to Do" (barackobamadotcom)

Obama and Wright: He Never Complained Once (NRTPac)

Daft The Vote (Election08)

Voting Might Be Helpful! (JeremyKonner)

WV Vote Flipping Caught on Tape (videothevote)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Just how do those "viral videos" go viral?

Most people who've been paying even passing attention to the 2008 Election understand that online video has changed the way campaigns, the media, and voters communicate and learn about politics. Most people can point to a few of their favorite "viral videos" (to use a worn-out term) that have propped up or pushed down a particular candidate over the past two years. But how much do we really know about what causes a video to rise to the top and gain national attention?

The first answer is always content. Compelling content rises to the top, pure and simple. Just because the media ecosystem is more democratic than ever before doesn't mean that good content doesn't still matter - it does. Look at any of the flagship YouTube videos of this election - Yes We Can, HuckChuckFacts, We Need McCain, Obama's speech on race, Vote Different, Rev. Wright, etc. - and each video is compelling in for it's own reason.

But how does a compelling video spread? There's some interesting research being done in this area, and one of the more compelling tools we've come across is over at a new site called Shifting the Debate. The site, created by some smart developers in New York, tracks the link-outs of YouTube videos in the blogosphere. Using a unique and intuitive scatter plot graph that delineates between conservative and liberal blogs, the site tracks YouTube views over time based on linkages from blogs (not unlike the basic "Pagerank" system by which Google's founders started their little search engine project 10 years ago).

Head over to the site and take a look - and then compare the results with the "most viewed" pages in our News and Politics section on YouTube. Shifting the Debate shows how many blogs are linking to the days top videos. And you can see just how hard each party's bloggers work to promote videos that favor their candidate in their networks. Of course, we're not talking about a simple cause-effect relationship here - a video rising in "most viewed" on YouTube puts it on the radar of bloggers, who then link out to it, building that buzz in a positive feedback system that pushes the most compelling content up to the top. The tool at Shifting the Debate also lets you filter by time, so you can check the longevity of videos in the blogosphere.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Follow Voting Problems on New YouTube Map

With Election Day upon us and early voting in full force, we've been getting a huge stream of content submitted from polls across the country on our Video Your Vote channel. Some voters are documenting long lines at the polling place, others are documenting instances of voter intimidation, and others are just plain excited to be voting.

Make sure to keep checking back on the map for the videos as they pour in; you can filter them out by six different categories on the page. If you'd like to embed the map on your site, here it is:

So keep an eye on the election on the Video Your Vote channel, and don't forget to Video Your Vote.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Ding Dong...Trick or Vote!

Today is the one day out of the year that most Americans expect a knock at their door, and a savvy organization called Trick or Vote is capitalizing on that. Trick or Vote canvassers will be going door to door tonight, dressed in spooky costumes, but rather than asking for candy they'll be asking for citizens to get out and vote on November 4th.

A fundamental part of Trick or Vote's outreach strategy has been YouTube - they've used the site to distribute a series of spook-tacular videos, like this one which was selected by horror maven Wes Craven to be featured today on the YouTube homepage:

Who is Trick or Vote trying to reach with these videos? "We use the undead to encourage the living to vote," said Matt Singer, lead organizer for Trick or Vote. "The sad truth is that zombies, vampires, werewolves, and monsters are all disenfranchised still in this country, so the best way for them to have an impact is by encouraging living humans to vote. We prioritize talking to young people and other people new to the process."

Haunted by the idea of low voter turnout? Visit to sign up.

Citizentube Friday Five

Obama blitzes primetime with a 30-minute special, celebs left and right get even more political, and students from Ron Clark Academy turn a popular rap song into a political anthem. Here’s this week’s Friday Five.

American Stories, American Solutions: 30 Minute Special (barackobamadotcom)

Obama’s 30-minute ad that recently ran on primetime TV.

We're Not All Like Al (TheNRSC)

Stephen Baldwin, Victoria Jackson, and other celebs star in this ad targeted at Minnesota Senate candidate Al Franken.

5 More Friends uncensored (5friendsvote)

DiCaprio and a parade of Hollywood all-stars encourage you to vote.

Chuck Norris: An Outlaw's Worst Nightmare? (NRAVideos)

Chuck Norris’s urges voters not to forget their Second Amendment rights come election day.

You Can Vote However You Like (sonofthenile)

Students from Ron Clark Academy have a simple (and catchy) message for potential voters.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

CEOs Say: Take an Hour to Vote

CEOs of some of the biggest companies in the country are banding together to encourage their employees to take an hour off from work to vote on November 4. The Vote Hour project was developed after a Google employee learned that the number one reason registered voters did not vote in the 2004 election was not being able to escape from work for long enough to cast a ballot.

The concerned citizen proposed the idea to Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, who agreed to create a video urging all Google employees in the U.S. to take a "vote hour" on November 4 to leave the office and head to the polls.

CEOs from other companies like Cisco, General Motors, Time Warner, and Intel (even Donald Trump!) have thrown their support behind the project and are recruiting other business leaders from around the country to join in and make a video permitting their employees to schedule a "vote hour" on Election Day.

If you're a CEO who wants to participate, click here.

If you want to let your boss know about this project, click here.

And most importantly, go vote on November 4!

Clinton Continues to use YouTube as Election Approaches

Most primary challengers have long since shuttered their YouTube channels since the General Election began. Mike Huckabee hasn't logged into his account in 6 months. For Fred Thompson, it's been 4 months. John Edwards and Mitt Romney haven't been on the Tube in over a month. There are some exceptions - Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich have stuck around, trying to capitalize on the movements their campaigns created - probably because that's more of what they were about from the start.

But the most interesting exception is Hillary Clinton - the campaign has continued to post videos of her campaign stops, her time at the Conventions, and some behind-the-scenes material, too. Her latest is a joint "Get out the Vote" video with President Clinton.

It looks like not many are watching however - this clip only has 329 views in 2 days. It used to be that a Clinton video uploaded to YouTube was guaranteed to get at least 20,000 views, if not many times more. But of course things have changed drastically since then, with the Obama campaign dominating the Democratic viewership on YouTube - just yesterday the campaign uploaded 20 - yes, 20! - videos to their YouTube channel in one day.

Why would anyone want to stop you from voting?

Video the Vote is a nonprofit organization that employs a network of citizen journalists to capture polling place problems on Election Day. The organization works on both an assignment desk and platform model: people can submit videos to their website, and Video the Vote also contacts individuals in their network and dispatches them to document troubles as they arise in precincts across the country. Already, they are documenting issues in machine technology glitches, and are seeing long lines at several polling places.

Our Election Day partnership with PBS, Video Your Vote, seeks to encourage, aggregate and spotlight this type of content from groups like Video the Vote across the country. We're working with several Election Protection partners both to highlight issues in election fraud but also to encourage voters to document their voting experience no matter what the result. This will be the most-documented election in history, and we encourage people to submit their videos to our Video Your Vote channel on YouTube, at

Here's a cool new video from Video the Vote, called "Why would anyone want to stop you from voting?", about their efforts:

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The YouTube Interview: Nancy Pelosi

We caught up with Speaker Pelosi yesterday during a visit to Google, and had the chance to speak with her for a few minutes on the economy, this election, and Congress' recent decision to change the rules and allow Members to maintain their own official YouTube channels. We posed her questions submitted on YouTube in both video and text, here:

Monday, October 27, 2008

Harvard Students Dig, You Decide

It's around this time every Election Season - in the final days leading up to the vote - when Americans across the country turn to their local and national newspapers to find issue-by-issue comparisons of the candidates. It's as if newspapers sit down to do these comparisons - which read like campaign cliff notes - out of a final sense of responsibility to cover the issues instead of the horse race. Though they often read like text books, they're incredibly helpful as a final study before voting - especially if you haven't made up your mind.

This year, a group of Harvard students is taking a new approach to issue comparisons with a project called "Vote Gopher". With the catchy tagline, "We dig, you decide," Vote Gopher digs up candidate positions on the issues and compares them in a series of short YouTube videos they produce. Complete with clips from candidate videos, easy-to-understand bullet points and graphics, and clear, well-researched narratives, these videos are a great study to those who'd rather cover the issues via video than newsprint. Here's a great example of a Vote Gopher video, on healthcare.

You can learn more and watch more issue videos at their YouTube channel or at their website,

You Choose Monday Hotlist

McCain's latest ad questions Obama's readiness, Biden loses his patience with a TV interviewer, the “Wassup” Guys return, Palin gets the Dr. Seuss treatment, and a spokesperson for "Rock the Vote" wants to make sure you also protect it. Here’s this week’s Monday Hotlist.

Ladies and Gentlemen (johnmccaindotcom)

Wassup 2008 (60Frames)

Biden Angered By Tough Questions (AlSalibiyyah)

Protect Your Vote (RocktheVote2008)

The Vet Who Did Not Vet (unvetted)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Laughs: “Wassup” Guys, McCain Girls Return

What a difference a few months make...or a few years.

Ever wondered what the “wassup” Budweiser guys have been doing the last 8 years since their rise to Super Bowl Commercial fame? Apparently, saving up their comedic energy for this latest ad for Barack Obama:

Meanwhile, it appears the McCain Girls have had a change of heart. They’re now Obama’s Mamas, and these days they’re singing a different tune.

Got a question for Nancy Pelosi? Submit it here.

The Speaker of the House is visiting the Google Headquarters on Monday, October 27th - and we have the opportunity to interview her with questions that voters submit here on YouTube. Submit your question for the Speaker as a reply video or comment to the video below.

Citizentube Friday Five

Average "Joes" stump for McCain, conservatives (and some famous Jewish comedians) come out for Obama, Team Nader gives us a good pre-Election scare, and a fake boyband gives new meaning to the word "battleground." Here's this week's Friday Five.

I Am Joe (johnmccaindotcom)

Inspired by Joe the Plumber, McCain supporters avow their solidarity.

Conservatives for Change (obamavideo08)

Conservatives explain why they’re voting for Barack Obama.

Boybama - Battleground for Your Heart (portalainteractive)

Pro-Obama “boyband” parody targeted at an important voting demographic.

Ain't Funny - Vice President. Vote Obama-Biden. (aintfunnyorg)

Older Jewish celebrities come out for Obama.

Election Night of the Living Dead (votenader08)

Latest ad from the Nader campaign.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Digital Transition Contest Hits YouTube

In case you didn’t know, come February 17th 2009 all televised programming in the U.S. will be broadcast exclusively in digital. And with less than four months before the deadline, millions of Americans have yet to make the transition. To ensure that they do, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is launching the “Digital TV: Convert Now!” contest on YouTube.

The contest calls upon on the creativity and imagination of the YouTube community to spread the word about the pending digital transition. Users are being asked to make a video, no longer than three minutes, that demonstrates what people need to do to make the transition and simplifies the steps they need to take. The contest launches this week and will run until December 10th, 2008. Full contest entry details can be found at

To help kick off the contest, the popular country music band Whiskey Falls created a call-out video (see below) explaining the details and encouraging people to participate. As the lead singer Seven explains, “We’re looking forward to seeing your video, and to helping everyone get ready for the DTV transition! ‘Cause we are America!”:

Joes everywhere become plumbers for McCain

The McCain campaign's "I am Joe" contest is off to quite a start - though the deadline for submissions to the contest isn't for another day, already the campaign has released a mash-up of the submissions they've received so far.

The winner of the contest, who creates the best video explaining why they are "Joe the Plumber" will see their video made into a television ad for the campaign. Smart move by Team McCain.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Doc Spotlights Afghanistan War

In recent weeks, and especially in the wake of the presidential debates, attention has focused back on the war in Afghanistan. Hoping to fill the void in the media coverage of Afghanistan, VBSdotTV's YouTube Channel has launched a six-part Internet documentary this month entitled “Inside Afghanistan with Ben Anderson,” an in-depth look at “the other war” in the war on terror.

Anderson, a reporter for the BBC, spent two months with British soldiers who were assigned to train the Afghan National Army while simultaneously fighting the Taliban. The stories Anderson found there, and documented in riveting detail, testify to the courage of the men and women in uniform, and the enormity of the mission they’ve been given:

“[My goal was] to show just how much is being asked of our soldiers out there,” Anderson recently explained to Citizentube. “How the Afghan people are getting caught up in the middle of the seemingly endless battle and how little manpower there is for the huge goals the US and UK governments have set out there.”

From harrowing ambushes and intense fighting, to candid moments with soldiers doing their best to retain their humanity, Anderson’s documentary sheds a much needed light on a war that all too often doesn’t get the media coverage it deserves.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

T-Minus Two Weeks Till Election Day

For months you've heard very little on the news but the latest twists and turns of this thrilling - though everlasting - presidential race. By now you've seen the debates, watched the campaign commercials, and hashed out the issues with friends. You've had celebrities, athletes, not to mention your mom, telling you about the importance of voting. Finally, the time to cast your ballot has arrived! In a number of states, like Ohio, Iowa, and North Carolina, early voting has already begun, and absentee ballots are being mailed in from around the world. And two weeks from today, on November 4, millions of Americans will head to the polling place to exercise their democratic right.

To show you just how excited we are about voting in this historic election, we're staging a homepage takeover today of videos all about voting. Learn about the two candidates by watching the full PBS Frontline documentary "The Choice 2008", become an expert on the electoral college and exactly how the electoral process works, and find out what you need to do to prepare for Election Day.

And if you're still undecided, let this epic dance-off between the McCainiacs and the Obaminators help you make your choice.

Don't forget to document your voting experience on camera both before and on Election Day, and submit your videos to the Video Your Vote channel; a selection of the videos received will be featured on PBS during its election coverage. And, make sure to watch this legal primer, provided by the Citizen Media Law Project, before bringing your video camera to the polls.

Olivia M.
News & Politics

Monday, October 20, 2008

McCain YouTube Contest: Calling All Average Joes

It now looks like Joe the Plumber, the now-famous Ohio resident who challenged Senator Obama on his tax plan and was catapulted onto the national stage during last week's presidential debate when both candidates referenced him a combined 26 times, will remain in the spotlight just a little bit longer.

This morning the McCain campaign launched an, "I'm Joe the Plumber" video contest. The contest asks McCain-Palin supporters to create 30 second videos about how they are like Joe the Plumber, by sharing their stories of, "living the American Dream, working hard, or owning a small business." The campaign will run the winning video as a television ad.

A recent Suffolk University poll shows that the "Joe the Plumber" storyline isn't resonating as strongly with voters as the McCain campaign might hope. Perhaps this contest will help citizens identify more with Joe, or help the campaign find a symbol that the American public finds more relatable.

Susie the Nurse, are you out there? Your chance at fame is just an upload away.

You Choose '08: Monday Hotlist

Colin Powell endorses Obama, the RNC goes after the Dems, Obama Girl does Palin, and Citizen Steve videos his vote. (Plus, more fun with Joe the Plumber!) Here's this week's Monday Hotlist.

Colin Powell Endorses Barack Obama (tpmtv)

The REAL Joe the Plumber (QuietLibrary)

Blame (theNRSC)

Casting my ballot in the 2008 election (citizentube)

Obama Girl As Sarah Palin on Fox News (barelypolitical)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Citizentube Friday Five

McCain, Obama, the stars of Gossip Girl, John Cleese, Tyra Banks, and a guy named Joe...they all make an appearance in this week's Friday Five.

Obama Explains His Tax Cut Plans To Plumbing Business Owner (jedreport)

Joe The Plumber (johnmccaindotcom)

John McCain learns to smile with his eyes (richfofo)

John Cleese on Sarah Palin (seesmiccafe)

Gossip Girl stars: Talk to your parents about McCain (karinmoveon)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Moving to a more democratic debate

Last night's presidential debate, the final in the series sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates, wrapped up this cycle's general election debates without making use of the Internet to engage voters in the process. The Commission did make an attempt to utilize online tools this year, but that attempt fell flat.

Last week's presidential debate, hosted by Tom Brokaw, used a "town hall" debate format that was designed to let voters ask the questions of the candidates - in person, and online. However, it was Brokaw who decided which hand-picked town hall questions to point to, and which "Internet questions" to ask. Of the tens of thousands that were submitted online, Brokaw selected just four. It's hard to see what influence, if any, voters actually had on this debate. And so this general election cycle has passed without citizens ever having the chance to truly inform the dialogue in the most important of our public forums - presidential debates.

That's a shame, because this year we've seen the Internet offer us new opportunities to tap into the issues that matter most to voters. The role of the Internet in this election has been well documented in this blog and countless others - not only has the web changed the way that candidates raise money, but online platforms and tools like the ones we've developed at YouTube are actually changing the national discussion over politics and policy, re-shaping the media ecosystem to allow voters to have more power, and more access to critical election information, than ever before. It's only natural to leverage these tools to connect candidates and voters directly during debates.

There is a group of concerned online activists who are trying to make sure that happens. The Open Debate Coalition, a bi-partisan group of activists who think our debates need serious reform, is asking for 4 things:

  1. That the debate moderator has broad discretion to ask follow-up questions after a candidate’s answers.
  2. That Internet questions voted on by the public in the fashion that Google Moderator has provided be used to drive the dialogue in debates.
  3. That all footage of debate be released into the public domain so that anyone can post, mash-up, and re-purpose them to increase the audience for our most important public events.
  4. And that an alternative to the CPD is created, to create a more transparent and accountable series of public debates.

During the primary season, we partnered with CNN to use the power and reach of YouTube to create a more democratic debate. Voters could submit questions on YouTube, which were then posed to the presidential candidate in two primary election debates. And this fall, our You Choose '08 Spotlight series has allowed voters to ask questions of candidates in hot Senatorial and Gubernatorial races - and compare both candidates answers - here on YouTube.

But these innovations are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of increasing civic participation in debates - there's a lot more we could do to insure that voter's voices inform our national discussion.

Google Moderator, the tool that the Open Debate Coalition refers to, allows voters to submit questions via text or video, and to vote up or down on all questions submitted. The wisdom of crowds comes into play as people bubble up questions they think are most important, and vote down questions they think are less relevant or inappropriate. The platform is based of the same system we use internally at Google to ask questions of our founders at each week's company meeting, and it is built by engineers who control for issues like spamming, profanity, and duplication.

A few months ago we asked both candidates to come to New Orleans to take questions from voters using this tool. However, the debate didn't come to fruition. We believe it was a missed opportunity to let the concerns of voters, expressed on the most democratic of political mediums - the Internet - inform the debate over the future of the country.

The missed opportunities of this year's debate series gives us the opportunity to re-consider how we construct our presidential debates. We support the work of the Open Debate Coalition and will continue to push for public forums that make use of technology to engage more people in politics and public policy than ever before.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

You Choose Spotlight: Sununu vs. Shaheen

In our latest You Choose ’08 Spotlight, we turn to New Hampshire as Republican Senator John Sununu and Democratic challenger Jean Shaheen answer questions from YouTube users. Watch as they discuss social security, “green” jobs, heath care (see below), and other issues that matter to you. Check out to see more.

An Invitation to Video Your Vote

Less than four weeks from today, one of the most exciting presidential campaigns in history will come to head, and millions of voters from every state in the nation will set out for the polls to cast their ballots. On November 4, we invite you to document your experiences on Election Day and share them with the world here on YouTube.

Today, in partnership with PBS, YouTube presents Video Your Vote, a project designed to shed light on voting in America and show democracy in action through the eyes of voters like you. Together, PBS and YouTube ask you to share videos of what you experience on Election Day. We're looking for perspectives from polling places across the country that chronicle the excitement and energy at the polls, as well as any problems that may arise -- like long lines or broken voting machines -- that could prevent citizens from exercising their right to vote.

Hear more from Judy Woodruff of the News Hour with Jim Lehrer:

Some of the best videos uploaded to the Video Your Vote channel will be showcased on PBS throughout the station's election coverage. Be sure to tag all of your election day videos with the tag "videoyourvote" -- and if you witness or encounter anything problematic at the polls that is hindering the voting process, add the tag "pollproblem" so your video can be easily found.

From now until Election Day, Video Your Vote will be your go-to destination to learn all about voting. Here you'll find interviews with the world's most knowledgeable election experts, in-depth reports on this year's election and elections past, and creative "Get Out the Vote" videos from some of YouTube's champions of democracy.

Ready to see first-hand how the people get to have their say in the political process?

It's time to jump in and Video Your Vote.

YouTube News, Politics, and Nonprofits

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Kiwi YouTube Debate

New Zealanders got their first chance to see current Prime Minister Helen Clark (centre-left) and Opposition Leader John Key (centre-right) battle it out head-to-head in their first debate leading up to the November 8 poll. What made this debate particularly special was that New Zealand citizens were called upon to ask the questions via YouTube and did so enthusiastically, submitting over 100 questions including gems such as this one from a concerned arctic citizen and this one from Poogelton:

The 90 minute debate was televised nationally on TV ONE at 7pm Oct 14th and was particularly lively, with both leaders often yelling over the top of each other. At one point Helen Clark stated "I am telling you John. You might be used to shouting people down at home, you are not shouting me down." Sounds like the kind of thing I used to hear from my parents as a cheeky teenager.

It was a fantastic evening and great to be able to contrast the two leaders and their policies across such a vast array of topics. All clips from the debate can be seen here on the debate channel. We were even fortunate enough to catch up with Helen Clark for a photo before she left the studios. We were searching for John Key to do the same but appeared we were too slow as he had already departed the building. Nonetheless, I want to thank the two leaders for a fascinating debate, TVNZ for doing such a great telecast and importantly our YouTube users in New Zealand, who not only submitted such great questions but also voted, commented or just simply tuned in to hear the respective leaders answering important questions from the people. Hoping this is only the beginning as we see New Zealand's political parties embrace YouTube more as a way to engage with the electorate as the campaigning unfolds.

Julian Sonego
YouTube News & Politics Team, NZ

Monday, October 13, 2008

Citizentube Monday Hotlist

Obama and McCain go at it, Palin gets booed at a hockey game, an in-depth interview with a McCain supporter, and a political music video inspired by Kanye West. Here's this week's Monday Hotlist.

"Lose" Ad (barackobamadotcom)

Ambition (johnmccaindotcom)

Vice President - Sarah Palin ft. John McCain (Parody of American Boy by Estelle ft. Kanye West) (JamesatWar)

Hockey mom Sarah Palin boo'd at hockey game. (jimjones24680)

McCain Volunteer Sends Out "Obama is an Arab" letters (UpTakeVideo)

Friday, October 10, 2008

"The Talk"

In the several-week-old tradition of Sarah Silverman's popular Get Out the Vote video, The Great Schlep, the Obama camp is hoping to rally young people to convince their elders to vote (for Obama). In this video from the campaign, a handful of young people not yet old enough to vote, talk about how and why they decided to have "the talk" with their parents and other family members about who to vote for in the upcoming election. You know the Obama team has plenty of money if it can afford to spend dollars targeting a population that won't even be able to cast a ballot on November 4, but it's a smart way to leverage the enthusiasm and support Obama has drummed up within the American youth.

Citizentube Friday Five

A week of debate, reaction, and emotion. Here’s this week’s Friday Five.

Second 2008 Presidential Debate (Full Video)

Stand (johnmccaindotcom)

YouTube responds to the debate (thepolitico)

The McCain-Palin Mob (bloggerinterrupted)

Respondele a Obama (NicoleBetancourt)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Udall vs. Pearce on YouTube

You asked, they answered. In our latest match-up of our You Choose Spotlight series, New Mexico Senate candidates Tom Udall (D) and Steve Pearce (R) answer questions submitted by YouTube users. Watch what they have to say about education, green jobs, the economy, and other issues by going to

[Next up: Senator John Sununu and Governor Jeanne Shaheen in the New Hampshire Senate Race.]