This 2008 New York Times article discusses YouTube’s partner program, in which the most popular YouTubers have the opportunity to get paid by YouTube to produce content. This article uses celebrity gossip vlogger Michael Buckley as an example. He began making videos because it was something he enjoyed and his audience grew enough for him to begin making money from YouTube.
This pattern of successful content creators turning a hobby into a career initially seems like a win-win situation. YouTube gains a steady stream of traffic to their site and the YouTubers earn a living from doing what they love.
When analyzing the situation more deeply, however, several questions arise:
What if the views of the YouTuber clash with the views of Google (who owns YouTube)?
It is clear that higher quality cameras and equipment are necessary to make a nice-enough video to get noticed. So, don’t wealthy YouTubers have an advantage?
Do some people cater their content to become a YouTube partner rather than to get their voice heard?
Are paid video bloggers still considered “independent” if they are being payed by Google?
These questions sum up the potential for ethical misdoings in the partner program. Stories such as Michael Buckley’s, who started making YouTube videos because he enjoyed it and eventually gained money, are the stories we hear about the YouTube Partner Program. But they certainly do not all play out like that.
Technically, these YouTubers are small examples of independents who are now being payed by a large corporation. Like any independent outlet being bought up by a larger entity, they need to be viewed with skeptic eyes.
Overall, the YouTube partner program does have the potential to be positive. It is paying, mostly young, creatives who would like their voices to be heard. As the program continues, however, it is important to step back and be aware of potential ethical misdoings. As it stands with larger media, when money is involved, things can get sticky.