Top 10 Serious News YouTube Channels - TopX Ep. 5



Top 10 Serious News YouTube Channels - TopX Ep. 5

VOICE OVER: Dan Paradis
Welcome to the fifth episode of TopX, the brand new show where we countdown the very best that YouTube has to offer! Today we're helping you replace your cable and newspaper subscriptions with serious news channels. While some of these channels definitely stretch the definition of serious, we still had to exclude channels that put a heavier emphasis on comedy then they do on information. We ranked our picks based on a mix of subscriber numbers and views, votes from our users, personal preference and impact on the YouTube community. Also seeing that this is the news, personal politics and company politics were not factored into our choices.

Top 10 YouTube Serious News Channels

#10:BBC News

- Kicking off our list is no spring chicken in the world of news and broadcast: the British

Broadcasting Corporation. When you’ve been broadcasting since 1923, you’ve got to keep up with the times in order to stay relevant, so a YouTube contingent of this near hundred-year-old brand was bound to happen.

- On their YouTube channel, each clip serves as a self-contained story, rather than as a larger broadcast that includes several different topics. While this means that you will have to watch each segment individually, it’s a useful way to organize the content because as soon as you start a video, you’re immediately launched into the topic you chose, and you never have to wait around for the 1 segment you’re interested in.

- That said, the only foreseeable downside to getting your news from the BBC News YouTube channel is that it doesn’t serve as a total replacement for their website or any other devoted news website; as the stories that appear on YouTube are seemingly only those that benefit from the visual medium: interviews and striking visuals make up with bulk of their content.

- As you might expect, the segments are always presented in way that’s more discreet, slightly less sensationalized than some of its North-American competitors and counterparts. It’s definitely not dry or over serious, but it’s all delivered in a tone that’s both clear, and professional. On top of that, being such a huge name, they get access to places other people can’t, so footage from various warzones and hotspots is not uncommon.


- So, remember how I said that BBC News discrete and professional in their style. That may have seemed like an odd thing to mention, but it’ll make more sense in contrast to our next entry. Enter Tomonews.

- Self-described as “Your Source for Viral News Video”, Tomo likes to straddle the fence between News and Infotainment, and they do it in a way that’s entirely unique. One of the biggest problems that News broadcasters face is a lack of footage for the topic they are covering. Tomo has turned this dilemma into their central gimmick: they use Taiwanese animators to created somewhat crude GCI reenactments of stories they don’t have footage of, often with hilarious results.

- As you can expect, the stories they cover are often the one’s that provide the most visually appealing animations. Don’t expect in depth coverage of the war against ISIS or the fight against Ebola here; but, if you ever wanted to see what it may have been like when the mounties caught up with Rob Ford, you’re in luck.

- I know what some of you are thinking, how is this news? Well, the Rob Ford stuff obviously isn’t, but most if not all of their recent content does cover current events, even if it’s with marked preference for the juicier, more viral style of stories.

#8:ABC News

- Okay, back to serious stuff. Well, semi serious, as ABC news definitely has done work to make their channel a bit more youthful and watchable than something like BBC. That means their content is a mix of what I’d call hard and soft news; with hard news being traditional news segments and soft news being interviews with celebrities or small montages of funny videos.

- I’d say this mix is still heavily in favor of “Hard news”, but as I mentioned before, the content is sprinkled with the slightly lighter fare in order to bring up the general tone of the channel.

- Like BBC’s channel, ABC news serves more as a supporting counterpart to their main website and television broadcast, rather than as a replacement. As such, many of their clips are just that, clips of their other shows that act to promote their shows as much as they as they serve as standalone content.

- Anyone who’s a fan of Good Morning America, Nightline or 20/20, or even just fans of Dianne Sawyer and Robin Wright will find plenty to keep them busy between broadcasts here.


- Here we have another juggernaut of the American global news landscape. Like ABC news, many of the segments you’ll find on CNN are taken directly from their television segments. The plus side of this is that you pick and choose the stories you want to watch without having to sit through anything else, unlike watching CNN the traditional way where you might not be lucky enough to tune in for the part you’re interesting in amidst their 24 hours broadcast.

- Like BBC and ABC’s respective channels, part of the appeal of CNN on YouTube is their brand power. Viewers that are familiar with their name and style from other mediums can be assured that the clips they’ll see on their channel will be of the same content and caliber.

- What sets CNN apart from its contemporaries is the sheer volume of news they produce. Much like how the cable broadcast from which they get their content is on 24/7, so too is the YouTube channel being updated. CNN posts something between 30 and 40 clips a day. This means they cover a lot more topics than a lot of their competitors, and serve as the closest thing we’ve seen so far to a complete replacement for more traditional news outlets.

#6:New York Times

- Yet another big name in Western journalism, all the news fit to print is apparently also fit to be posted to YouTube. In fact, the slogan for their channel is just that “All the news fit to watch”.

- While channels like CNN and ABC like to fill their channels with excerpts from their television broadcasts, segments on the Times’ channel are more often than not entirely original to the web; content that wouldn’t work in print format but that still meets the high standards of the 150 year old institution of the same name.

- That said, being the New York Times, they have an immense amount of brand power, which gives them access to interviews and segments that are even more coveted than their competitors at CNN and ABC. For example, their segment “Anatomy of a Scene” offers in depth analyses of recent Hollywood movies, with commentary from the director themselves.

- On top of their more standard recurring segments that cover Travel, Movies, Tech and
relationships, to name a few, the NYT distinguishes their channel with something that certainly seems a bit unorthodox: cooking segments. These are done which the same production value as the rest of their content, and are notably quite seasonal. For example, leading up to thanksgiving they have separate segments for how to make 2 different kinds of gravy, cranberry sauce, pumpkin and of course, roasted turkey.

#5:Associated Press

- Next up is another name you’re probably familiar with, but unlike the other big names we’ve seen, chances are you probably don’t know what the Associated Press does. Ever wonder where your local paper get’s all his news from? I mean, the Schenectady Chronicle can’t have reporters in Syria, the Ukraine and Nigeria every week now can they. The answer is the Associated Press, who are a non-profit organization based out of New York that compile and distribute news and content from around the word to its various associates in the press. See what I did there?

- For those of you that believe that the other channels give too much spin on their news, either by ways of style or message, the Associated Press may be what you are looking for. Because much of their content is meant to be licensed and repackaged by other news outlets, they content is notoriously dry and factual. In fact, you’ll often videos labeled “raw”, which indicates that the clip is raw, relatively unedited footage without commentary.

- While the content does run the gamut from hard hitting current events to fluffier pieces about celebrity and sports scandals, being that the AP acts like a source for other networks, they cover close to all of the major stories being circulated in the western media. This means that they’re another good channel to follow if you want to completely replace your 6pm broadcast or daily newspaper.

#4: RT (a.k.a. Russia Today)

- Best to address the elephant in the room right away. Russia today is a Russian channel, run by the state. As such they’ve been heavily criticized for pushing a pro-Russian agenda, despite the fact that they’re programs are aimed specifically at the overseas market. However, those of you out there hoping to find a high quality English channel that is unhindered by a perceived or even potential American bias, this might be exactly what you’re looking for. The “other side of the coin”, if you will.

- In fact, aside from our #2 entry and Tomonews, they’re one of the only places you can get English news that doesn’t come from a specifically western source.

- Despite being a relatively new name in the realm of global news (at least by the standards of broadcast) on YouTube, RT has made immense strides: they’re the first YouTube news channel to hit a billion views and were the most popular news outlet on YouTube in 2012. They’re also the only channel on our list with a fancy layout for their page, so there’s that.

#3:VICE News

- What was once a humble, if explicit free magazine based out of Montreal has now evolved into a powerful force in the media landscape, and their YouTube presence is no exception.

- Vice has positioned their brand in 2 very specific ways. The first, as a more youthful perspective. Their claim is that they are a “news channel created by and for a connect generation”. What’s refreshing about the style they’ve adopted is that it doesn’t wreak of corporate focus grouping or some sort of “extreme” makeover meant to appeal to younger folks; their content is earnest and mature, and is clearly aimed and informed and intelligent viewers.

- The second way they’ve positioned their brand of news is as an alternative to traditional mediums. Much like how the Vice brand is associated with counter culture, Vice prides itself on covering stories and events that are usually outside scope of other news outlets. Their news capsule segment is even called “Beyond the Headlines”, to give you the smallest of examples. Many of their stories reflect this sentiment as well, with a decidedly heavy focus on international stories that get little to no attention in the western media.

- While many channels serve as support to their other news outlets, Vice uses YouTube as one of its pillars, and it’s content reflects the respect they give to the medium. Because they have no channel on traditional television, their YouTube channel gets all the attention, and it shows. For instance, in their “Beyond the Headlines” clips, you can click on overlays or “buttons” in the video to skip to the topic you’re most interested in. It’s little touches like this that shows that Vice is using YouTube to it’s fullest potential as a means to deliver it’s content.

#2: Al Jazeera English

- Despite what some may see as anti-western bias, Al Jazeera English is currently regarded as one of the most widely respected news organizations in the world. Like Russia Today and Vice News, Al Jazeera positions itself as an alternative to western media. However, where RT has a bias that’s easier to identify, and Vice has a distinctive counter culture vibe, Al Jazeera is defined by an air of general professionalism that far surpasses pretty much every other entry on our list.

- We know what some of you are thinking, and no, they aren’t a terrorist news outlet or the media wing for Hamas. Al Jazeera English is actually based out of both England and Qatar, and their name non-threateningly translates into “The Island” in English.

- Aside from their professional, no-nonsense style, what makes Al Jazeera’s content so refreshing to watch is their scope. Watching western news outlets, it’s easy to think of the world a place that contains the US, Russia and Ukraine, Ebola infected Africa and any part of the middle east now controlled by ISIS. Al Jazeera often serves as an important reminder of just how large the world is, as their stories cover a variety of conflicts and issues that are often beyond the scope of the traditional outlets. You never knew the world was so big and so screwed up.

Before we reveal our top pick, here are some honorable mentions:

#1:The Young Turks

- Their claim is thus “The real revolution is daring to be honest with people. We don’t patronize our viewers or lie to them. We have real conversations and deliver the news honestly”. Whether you choose to believe this claim is up to you, but it’s certainly noble and ambitious.

- One thing that distinguishes the content on The Young Turks channel, is their definite made-for-web style. Although its by no means low quality by means of production value, their style is more informal, more off the cuff, less cut and dry than their broadcast counterparts.

- This style is definitely their greatest strength. It allows content that comes off as a lot more frank. They’re discussions are often heated, they swear, they make jokes. While this may sound like a lack of professionalism on paper, in practice this comes off as authenticity. You don’t feel like they’re pulling punches to please their network, their sponsors, or even their government.

- While many news outlets on television provide ample screentime to punditry and general discussion, online it’s harder to find. TYT fills this vacuum nicely as well. More often than not their stories include discussions on the issues, and it’s often quite interesting to hear the sort of opinions that would be a considered a bit too racy broadcast.

- A lot of the YouTube channels we look at here on TopX are supported strongly by their
personalities, but this week that wasn’t the case. For this episode, the big names have been the brands, not the people. So here we come to the thing that pushes TYT ahead of its peers and into the top spot. While other channels have personality, TYTs have personalities. It’s 2 hosts, Cenk Uygyr and & Ana Kasparian, along with their contributing commentators, breathe a lot of life into seemingly mundane topics, without resorting to gimmicks or sensationalism. It’s these personalities, and the strikingly honest style in which they deliver their content, that have no doubt helped TYT garner so much recognition and popularity, along with the top spot on this countdown.
Good list overall, but TYT was a poor choice for #1. From what I've watched so far, they present only a liberal stance. You lose credibility as a company when you endorse one political agenda over objectivity.