How The Young Turks plans to crowdsource local news around the world

The Young Turks Network plans to crowdsource its way to providing local news and commentary across the globe.

The online news network is launching a program to recruit new hosts and local correspondents around the world. The program, called “TYT Next,” will invite people to submit videos on topics they’re passionate about for the chance to become a paid contributor and — if all goes right — an official on-air host or correspondent.

For TYT Network, Next helps with multiple objectives, one of which is to provide in-depth reporting and coverage on a local news story that might also have national and global impact.

“We should have been in Ferguson,” said Steve Oh, COO of TYT Network. “I would have loved to have local people there covering it on our behalf. … With Next, we will be providing something more immediate, connected — and doing it at scale.”

Spearheaded by a six-person team led by Dan Keston, TYT’s gm and executive producer of sports, the Next program starts with TYT Sports (212,000 YouTube subscribers). Anyone can submit a sports-related video, and Keston’s team will pick the clips they like the best. The videos will then appear on TYT Sports’ YouTube channel.

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The audition process is straightforward. If any TYT channel airs five videos from a fan, he or she will then become a paid contributor, receiving $100 per video. (This might change if a fan is consistently putting out content that goes viral on YouTube, said Oh.) Once a fan becomes a contributor, if 10 additional videos have aired on TYT Network, he or she will have the opportunity to become a paid regular or part-time host or correspondent for the company.

The process of becoming a paid full-time or part-time employee of TYT Network will vary based on logistics and what makes sense for both the company and the contributor, according to Oh. “Let’s say tomorrow we launch a home-and-garden show, and we find someone really good in Mississippi, we might want to fly that person out and set them up in LA as a host,” he said. “But if they just want to be a part-time correspondent based in Mississippi, that’s totally fine, too.”

Contributors will be measured by regular metrics such as views, how many likes and dislikes their videos receive and how often their videos are shared and commented on. But there will also be an eyeball test. “I want to see growth in terms of numbers but also how they improve with their delivery and their relationship with the audience,” said Oh.

Next was inspired in part by luck. TYT Network’s second-biggest and fastest-growing YouTube channel is ThinkTank (800,000 YouTube subscribers), which is co-hosted by John Iadarola. Iadarola was getting his doctorate in political science at the University of Texas when he was discovered by TYT Network, which was looking for students to submit videos for its TYT University channel. After submitting a few videos and corresponding with the company, Iadarola decided to quit school, move to LA and join TYT Network. He’s credited with building and growing the ThinkTank channel and often fills in for TYT founder Cenk Uygur when he’s not available to shoot.

“We thought we got lucky in finding him, but if we can do this on a mass scale, we might be able to find other John Iadarolas across the country and the world,” said Oh. “On YouTube, there aren’t gatekeepers like there are in traditional media, and this is a great way for letting talented people make their foray into being on-screen.”

 

After TYT Sports, the plan is for Next to expand to PopTrigger, the network’s entertainment channel, followed by the flagship channel The Young Turks (2.3 million subscribers).

While it doesn’t have the resources of a larger media organization, TYT Network has doubled its headcount in the past year and a half — to 60 people — and plans to double again in the coming year. Some of these will come via the Next program.

“We’re going to put them in the best position possible to succeed, whether he’s a correspondent in Cameroon or a guy in Delaware who wants to move to LA,” said Oh.

Image courtesy of Young Turks.

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