Laying claim to be the first news channel to hit such a milestone, Russia Today (RT) has revealed that it has notched up one billion views on YouTube. Looking at the world through fresh eyes, as it were, RT.com brings you to history in the making as strikingly as television brought you the Vietnam war on your network news decades ago, and film documentaries captured history during WW II.
Visually, RT is a stunning blend of YouTube video/film reality with commentators and reporters knowledgeable enough to fill in the blanks between who’s who in the action, pointing to the inevitable good guys and bad guys. The international news channel deservedly says that setting such a benchmark in online video performance confirms its status as the top news content provider on the world’s largest video-sharing platform. Frankly, as a dedicated viewer I can confirm that. The reasons are many. It is peppered with interviews by genuine experts on a topic in discussion.
What is more, RT Broadcasts 24/7 in English, Arabic and Spanish from its studios in Moscow, Washington, DC, and New York City. Its graphics have a magical quality to them. They give you a sense of going round the world, even in their totally visual weather reports. In 2007, RT became the first Russian TV channel to launch a YouTube portal. Four years later, it set the record for the most-watched YouTube news item of the year. Plus, a 2012 study by the Pew Research Centre’s Project for Excellence in Journalism highlighted RT as being by far the largest provider of news video footage on the platform.
The anchormen and women, whether in Moscow, Russia, America, D.C., or any location where news is breaking, are low-key, with British, American, and sometimes slight Russian accents, though all are fastidiously articulate. The reporters are charged with energy and facts about what may be breaking right behind them in the film frame as they walk through exploding streets and battles. They’re amazingly brave.
Explaining why he was “thrilled” that RT had reached the “massive landmark,” Robert Kyncl, Google VP and head of content for YouTube, said: “Programmers such as RT understand that YouTube is different and that you have to program it slightly differently than the airwaves . . . the payoff is seen in RT’s “numbers; it’s paying off in consumer adoption and response rates . . . It’s something that has to be both learned and earned and RT has been a great partner in that.” I agree.
“A billion hits—that’s a stunning result. From RT’s very first days we knew that in the nearest future the battle for viewers will be taking place on the Internet, on new platforms. This is why we are especially proud and happy to be the first. This is an amazing achievement for a Russian news channel—to become a major provider of news in the space that reaches the most important, young audience,” added RT’s editor in chief Margarita Simonyan.
As a daily viewer, Intrepid Report associate editor and freelance political writer, I can promise you that RT.com packs a real-life wallop to everything it covers. It’s the closest thing or perhaps even better than a wire service. Whether it covers riots in Syria’s ongoing revolution, skirmishes in a Turkish park, an Occupy confrontation with the NYPD, the tragedy at Sandy Hook or at Boston’s Marathon disaster, the footage is up-close and personal, utilizing hand-held cameras, cameramen who are either skilled amateurs, professionals from RT, activists or average people caught in an outstanding moment with their camcorders out, all of it edited skilfully into a seamless narrative.
Though RT does not blatantly take sides, it always manages to give a distinct idea of who the good guys are; and who the not-so-good, with all the associative undercurrents and truths to characterize the players and events. As news media, it seems to be the closest thing to being there, given its grasp of where the action is.
You will see world-famous cities on fire or bombed, countries battered with bullets, people rioting, shocking brutality, acts of personal bravery, places you never thought you’d see in a day-long flow of segments in the Middle East, Europe, the US, or Africa. Even the golden meteror from outer space that hit Siberia, bouncing around wreaking havoc, flashes through your screen, silenced finally in Siberia’s ice-white snows. Wherever the news is happening, you’ll find commentators that are a cut above the average corporate media talking heads. There is zero triviality. You’ll also find documentaries of Russia, and other countries, political talk shows like Cross Talk, plus the wizard wit of Max Keiser, economist extraordinaire, who has set fires under the ass of more Jamie Dimones and Lloyd Blankfeins than you can imagine.
And you’ll see special segments, stories like those of orphanages in Russia, the orphans of the storm, and the would-be parents that will tug at your heart-strings. You’ll see the brutality of war as some savage Syrian “rebel” cuts the heart out of an enemy’s chest and eats it. You will shudder at the realities of what war is. And you’ll get a sense of Mother Russia, its enormity, its people, production and politics. RT thankfully does not spare Russia and its own political problems. It covers hot spots such as Chechnya, political rallies against offenses of its leaders, from Putin to some hapless bureaucrat.
RT’s sharp, uncompromising eyes, keep their edge in any language that carries their stories, and stay true to its end line, “Question More.” Maybe this is what got veteran political talk show interviewer Larry King to join their army of news persons. I believe King realized this was the opportunity of his long and productive lifetime, which would appeal to middle-aged, older, younger, male or female audiences of various nationalities, all of it flavouring the stewpot of the world’s news.
In fact, as MSNBC, Fox and other news venues sink into lower ratings, which they deserve for their worn-out reporting, for giving us a fraction of the real pictures and for their empty banter that brought Reporter Abby Martin to her RT show, “Breaking the Set—Fixing the News,” wherein the sleek looking Abby opens her show, making up to go on, then walking to a TV set babbling with the likes of Wolf Blitzer, Chris Matthews, Anderson Cooper, and the Barbie and Ken dolls of the networks. She pauses then takes a series of whacks at the faux news TV set with a long-handled, big-headed sledge hammer (something we’ve all wanted to do for years). That till she’s “broken the set” to “fix the broken news.”
She brings the airwaves a blast of fresh air, ideas and interviews. No more do we get the falling faces of Bill O’Reilly, Geraldo Rivera, co-host Andrea Tantaros, the spastic MSNBC Christ Matthews and Mr. Ed, talking themselves into graveyard ratings and missing an audience of open minds who want to hear the truth not the same old song. Her interviews with people like Noam Chomsky, Chris Hedges, Oliver Stone and other heavies give a new depth to the news, one-on-one.
The younger anchors (mostly female) give the fresh energy of their age and gender to old problems like Guantanamo, drone-bombing, harassment of newspeople and whistleblowers, with a seemingly endless flow of news and follow-up stories. Packaged together for around the world viewing, this is the next step in news viewing. Upfront, fearless and no fool, RT rushes in where angels fear to tread, on every conceivable subject and story. It sets a new standard for a new generation of journalists just when journalists are being harassed by power, as AP by Attorney General Eric Holder, and people like Julian Assange for Wikileaks, his beyond the fold look at what we’re not supposed to see or know.
Parenthetically, Assange’s star reporter/patriot, U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning’s lawyer says the soldier on trial provided highly-sensitive material to anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks in the biggest leak of classified information in U.S. history. But the lawyer asserts Manning’s intentions were good; he thought he could make the world a better place. And that Manning wanted this information shared with the American people. Where and when in the last umpteen years have you heard words like that coming at you. Not since Daniel Ellsberg and the New York Times released The Pentagon Papers, exposing the government for its misreporting and outright lies about Vietnam events.
But, like Manning and Assange, there’s a deep sense of justice that permeates the work of RT.com waiting for you 24/7. Give it a look. It’ll make your day.
Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer and life-long resident of New York City. An EBook version of his book of poems “State Of Shock,” on 9/11 and its after effects is now available at Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com. He has also written hundreds of articles on politics and government as Associate Editor of Intrepid Report (formerly Online Journal). Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.