Even as television news anchors explained why they would no longer show thevideos made by suspected Virginia Tech killer Seung Hui Cho, his diatribe wasrapidly being uploaded to YouTube.com.
There hundreds of versions of Cho's video and news coverage of it can befound. On Friday, the three most watched YouTube videos featured Cho.
Most news outlets stopped showing the videos by Thursday, in part due topublic pressure and concerns that the images could incite copycats.
But they have been granted new life on the Internet, where younger viewershave flocked in recent years to catch home-made videos and other clips. Nowthey can see into the eyes of a young man many have called a monster.
"Those seeking the video online must know in their own heart why they needto watch it again," said Andrew Finlayson, news director for Chicago's Fox 32,which stopped airing the video on Thursday. "I personally hope it is not foramusement but instead to reflect on how we can prevent this from happeningagain."
700,000 hits for video
One video posted Thursday on YouTube has been viewed more than 700,000times. Furthermore, that video and the hundreds like it are being linked toblogs, MySpace profile pages and e-mailed across the Web. Hence, millions ofpeople could still be watching Cho's disturbing actions even as mainstreammedia have stopped showing them.
Many of those viewers would likely be college-age, since in the four-weekperiod ending April 14, 29.7 percent of YouTube's viewers were ages 18 to 24,according to Internet tracking firm Hitwise.
By contrast, last year, the median age of the viewers for the nightly newsbroadcasts of the three major networks was about 60, according to Nielsenratings.
YouTube is not a media outlet but it does have a responsibility, said BobSteele, the values scholar for the Poynter Institute, a journalism think tankin St. Petersburg, Fla.
"I'm not suggesting they should not allow the video [on YouTube], but theyshould consider the ramifications of the video being on there," he said."Letting the chips fall where they may is not the answer. They should havesome standards."
YouTube states policy
YouTube viewers must flag a video as inappropriate before site operatorstake action. YouTube's community guidelines also say videos depicting graphicor gratuitous violence are not allowed. "YouTube is not a shock site,"according to the guidelines.
YouTube, owned by Google Inc., did not make an executive available forinterview.
Media giant Viacom Inc. sued Google for $1 billion in March for copyrightviolations. Part of Viacom's frustration, cited in the federal lawsuit, isthat YouTube must be asked to remove content from its site.
Videos of Cho are also available on other sites. Revver.com said none areposted on its site. Before videos go up on Revver, they are reviewed forcopyright violations, a spokeswoman said Friday. If the poster owns thecopyright, they could go up as long as the site's reviewers deemed themappropriate.
"If it's not their content, we won't post it," she said.
The top YouTube video on Friday was a copy of a report that first aired onNBC News.
Yet many of the Cho videos are what's called "mash-ups," in which theperson adds music or other tricks.
One widely watched YouTube video, made by a director named Deadasoren,features a still picture of Cho holding two guns toward the camera. Scrollingacross the screen are words Cho spoke in one video and playing in thebackground is a song titled "Spider's Web" by singer Katie Melua.
Deadasoren writes that his video "was meant to show what Cho was thinkingat the time of the massacre. It doesn't represent my own (deadasoren) personalview."
He could not be reached for comment.
Former newspaper journalist Dan Gillmor, the director of the Center forCitizen Media, doesn't think YouTube has an obligation to take down the Chovideos. But he thinks those who post to YouTube and other sites should beresponsible.
Steele said there was a "journalistic purpose" to show the Cho videos lateWednesday and into Thursday, even though there was concern cited "about thepossibility of copycats." "But those same elements do not exist on Friday."
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