EUTube: Communicating Europe through online video
Dias da Silva, Patrícia
PhD Candidate Instituto de Ciências Sociais da Universidade de Lisboa (ICS-UL) Lisboa, Portugal
In just four years, YouTube became a household name in networked video, aided by the exponential growth in broadband access, with increased speed and falling prices. However, it did more than that: to a significant extent it shaped the characteristics of online video sharing and even affected traditional media, who now feature YouTube videos and interview celebrity YouTubers.
One of its most publicized impacts was on governmental online communication strategies, with politicians and institutions logging in to share information and to engage citizens (e.g. the Portuguese President and the British Prime Minister). In this presentation, I will discuss the role of EUTube in communicating Europe through the analysis of the videos posted, focusing mainly n topics addressed and genres used (humor, cartoons, interviews with Commissioners or citizens). In addition, I will present my findings regarding the use of comments made by channel viewers. This comprises a review of the messages' content and interaction between participants, as well as a synthesis of users' profile information.
The channel EUTube was launched by the European Commission (EC) in June 29, 2007, in its English version. It resulted from the presentation of a political framework concerning the use of the Internet as a communication tool, which also included the establishment of the online discussion forum ?Debate Europe? and the creation of blogs by Commissioners and Heads of Commission Representations. By October of the same year, Margot Wallström ? Vice-President of the EC and Commissioner for Institutional Relations and Communication Strategy ? praised the success of EUTube. According to a press release by the EC, at this time the channel's homepage had reached a million hits and the German and French channels had been added, introducing videos in these languages. In February 2009, the English channel featured 175 videos, it counted nearly two million channel views and close to eight thousand subscribers. Yet, except for one particular video, comments are not made in heavy numbers.
In sum, I propose to trace both a profile of EUTube as part of the Commission's online communication strategy, and also of citizen response, namely through commenting on this YouTube channel.