Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Church on YouTube

According to a story on ZENIT, the pro-life movement, along with the Archbishop of Philadelphia, have discovered the effectiveness of YouTube:
YouTube has been a great boon to the nonprofit community because with it, a video can be instantly available anywhere in the world, says media producer Colin Mason. Mason, director of media production for the Population Research Institute (PRI) in Front Royal, spoke to ZENIT about the success the organization has had using the medium to spread its Catholic message.

PRI launched its first YouTube video in June as an introduction to its work and research. Its effectiveness led to a new effort called the "Viral Video Campaign."

The first video of the campaign, a 51-second pro-life video called "The Human Race" asks the question: "Humanity is rushing toward the future. But where are we headed?"

Mason said: "We've been having a good deal of success with YouTube and it has been responsible for a big chunk of the traffic on our Web site. People have expressed a lot of support for the videos -- their quality, message, etc.

"We believe that these short, punchy videos are crucial in raising the YouTube generation's awareness of life issues."

Short, punchy videos huh. The video has good production values, aside from the narator, who seems to be doing his best imitation of the movie voice over guy.

Of course, not only are pro-life groups getting in on the action, but prelates are posting vlogs too. Another quote from the ZENIT article:

Cardinal Justin Rigali, archbishop of Philadelphia, is the first prelate to use the new media to reach his flock. During Lent 2007, a series of reflections on the Gospel given by the cardinal were posted on YouTube.

"The first video the cardinal posted was one of the most watched on YouTube," Donna Farrell, communications director at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, told ZENIT. "The reaction to the cardinal's reflections was amazing. We heard from people all over the world, Australia, the Philippines, Italy, and many in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, including one self-described '15-year-old skateboarder.'"

A "self-declared '15-year-old skateboarder'"? We now know that even though the Archdiocese is hip to the interweb, they are not hip per se.

"When it comes down to it, people like media," concluded Mason. "They like sound bites and video clips that entertain them during breaks or off-hours. So, if we can harness that power, the power of the short, pithy video clip, we can use it to raise awareness of our cause."

Heck, maybe they're on to something.

For those of you who don't get the reference, watch these:

It is wonderful that the Archbishop and these various pro-life groups are using YouTube. However, I don't believe these videos will have much of an impact. With the notable exception of Lisa Rose's undercover investigation of Planned Parenthood, which was picked up by the mainstream media, most of these videos will only be watched by Pro-lifers and Catholics.

The audiences of EWTN and Catholic radio are almost completely Catholic, and the audience for these YouTube videos will consist of EWTN viewers and Catholic radio listeners who have internet access. The utilization of new media brings the benefits of mass distribution and easy access at a very low cost. However, these groups shouldn't expect to get very many "self-professed...skateboarders" watching merely by posting on a hot new medium. Turning YouTube into an effective way to spread the gospel will require high quality videos. Otherwise, it will be the equivalent of Evangelical's attempts to reach the youth using video games (such as the one pictured below, with the laughable title Catechumen) or Christian rock music. They will not watch just because it's on YouTube just like the average kid won't play Left Behind just because it's a video game. While YouTube is a good medium for reaching the faithful and will likely remain such, its efficacy for evangelizing the "internet generation," at least for now, remains very low.

Kill those vampires for the LORD! (This game, according to the publishers, contains over 300 Bible verses. Great way to learn the Bible--using a pixelated sword to slay enemies).

No comments: