Google to launch YouTube Politics website

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Google-owned YouTube is launching a special site Thursday that it hopes will be a one-stop online spot for political junkies to watch the good, the bad and the ugly of the 2012 presidential campaign.

The site, YouTube Politics, will include videos from the candidates’ official YouTube channels and a mix of videos produced by media outlets and everyday citizens so people can follow every speech, gaffe and interview of the 2012 campaign.

It will also feature charts that show a tally of which candidates are receiving the most video views, search queries within YouTube, subscribers and video shares. YouTube visitors can also keep track of which candidate videos are getting the most views each day, week or month on the site.

“We wanted to paint a really holistic view for what politics looks like on YouTube,” Ramya Raghavan, YouTube news and politics manager, told POLITICO. “We’re seeing that citizens have an enormous appetite for getting political information online.”

The launch of the site is the latest of several moves by Google to position itself as a go-to source for politics news. In September, Google paired up with Fox News to host the GOP presidential debate. YouTube live-streamed the event and people could submit questions to the candidates and view search trend information via the site during the debate.

Though video is an inherently risky platform — remember George Allen’s campaign-crushing “Macaca” moment in 2006 — candidates and officials increasingly are embracing YouTube to help frame their message.

President Barack Obama has conducted interviews on YouTube, and Congress members and candidates opened their own YouTube channels.

YouTube also launched a Town Hall online platform earlier this year featuring members of Congress squaring off on various hot button domestic issues, including the economy and health care.

Google long ago outgrew its search engine status, becoming an umbrella corporation for email, books, shopping, and, yes, political action.

Since 2006, the California-based company’s political action committee has donated nearly $800,000 to political candidates, Democratic and Republican alike, as well as millions on business-related lobbying, and last month hosted a presidential debate with Fox News.

Now Google appears to be expanding its political reach with the launch of the new YouTube spin-off site, YouTube Politics.

The new virtual digs will not only aggregate commercials from electoral hopefuls’ official channels, but will also include citizens’ politically minded commercials and charts that follow how many views each candidate has received, tally their subscribers and show the total searches each candidate receives.

“We wanted to paint a really holistic view for what politics looks like on YouTube,” YouTube news manager Ramya Raghavan told Politico. “We’re seeing that citizens have an enormous appetite for getting political information online.”

While Google presents this as good news for citizens and political junkies, YouTube Politics really benefits two groups of people: Google itself, which will make even more money off the venture, and lawmakers who have increasingly used YouTube to spread their message without spending their campaign dough.

Source: POLITICO Pro