‘RT is accused & guilty of providing content that appeals to people’
People wouldn’t be watching RT if it was not providing high quality news content and a much-needed alternative viewpoint amid a mainstream media monopoly, media experts have told RT, noting that baseless criticism only fuels the channel’s popularity.
On Monday, the New York Times (NYT) accused YouTube of having a “cozy” relationship with RT, and which the publication believes, has contributed to the rise of the RT’s popularity on the world’s most visited video sharing site. The article claims that YouTube has played a “crucial role” in helping RT expand and significantly grow its audience base.
“They had to attribute it to some form of collaboration or weird dealings because they couldn’t just accept that RT is doing well by providing people [with] content that people will watch,” Matteo Bergamini, the founder of independent youth news platform Shout Out UK, told RT.
Independent journalist Derrick Droze agreed that the only thing the NYT succeeded in doing with its latest piece, is in fact, praising RT’s quality content and efficient partnership with YouTube.
“It is kind of silly to see the New York Times and US government take this position because essentially what they are accusing RT of doing is knowing how to work YouTube, and knowing how to work algorithms and how to work content that appeals to people,” Droze told RT.
“The way the article is written is so silly. They’re just talking about that RT created content and it reached a young audience of people who want authenticity and who want real news, and who want news outside the US government's version of events,” the journalist added.
In particular, the NYT article criticized the compliments RT attracted from Robert Kyncl, who was YouTube’s vice president at the time when RT smashed through the billion views milestone. In particular, Kyncl emphasized that RT offers “authentic” news content instead of “agendas or propaganda,” which helps the outlet to bond with its viewers.
“I think what users generally appreciate is authenticity. It is very apparent from everything that is going on on Youtube. So instead of having aspirational programming or agendas and propaganda, people really respond to authenticity,” Kyncl told RT's Kevin Owen in 2013.
The media experts agree with Kyncl's assessment offered years ago. RT is popular “because it services people, because people find it interesting, not because of some kind of brainwashing or collusion,” legal and media analyst Lionel said.
In fact, YouTube has continued to commend RT’s content selection, production and audience retention throughout the years. RT rocketed to 5 billion views on YouTube in September, maintaining its undisputed leadership position among international news networks, and outstripping by far the total number of views for BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera and Euronews.
And while experts and YouTube itself agree that RT is succeeding in building strong connections with its vast audience, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) echoed the NYT assessment, accusing not only Google, but also Facebook and Twitter of allowing the Russian news outlet to post “unreliable, misleading and highly partisan content.” And as is becoming customary, both outlets provided no concrete examples to back its claims.
Log out of Facebook. Delete your Twitter. Sleep with one eye open – Russians are everywhere (Op-Ed by Danielle Ryan) https://t.co/cDXBiqQs4B— RT (@RT_com) October 1, 2017
This kind of reporting by the WSJ and the NYT is tantamount to a “witch hunt,” Bergamini believes.
“It’s a witch hunt for anybody that has any relationship with anything to do with Russia or anything Russian it seems,” Bergamini said. “[To say] that RT – because they were successful on YouTube – is somehow embedded with YouTube and therefore Google is just madness. [They] are choking out accusations without any real evidence whatsoever.”
In a recent drive to somehow tarnish the public view of RT, a lobby group funded by George Soros, along with the EU and US governments, targeted 2,327 people who appeared as experts and guests on RT.
The report by the European Values think tank states that appearing on RT is counterproductive and makes the guest a “useful idiot” to a “hostile foreign power.” Expressing one’s opinion on RT is considered by the NGO as equivalent to “complicity with the Russian propaganda machine.”
But people are not “idiots,” and consciously chose to watch and appear on RT because the channel's content stands out from the mainstream media, argued Ray Finch, an MEP from the UK Independence Party (UKIP).
“The fact of the matter is: ordinary people know where to get their news. They can choose anywhere they like... It seems that RT is giving some form of news that people like, and so people are consuming it. If they didn't like it, they are not forced to watch it, they can go and watch CNN or Al Jazeera or read the NYT online,” Finch told RT.
“CNN is known worldwide now as the Clinton News Network, the BBC is the voice of the remainers as far as Brexit is concerned, Russia Today is what it says on the tin, it is backed by Russia. People take that into account. The NYT and people like that are assuming people are idiots,” Finch said.
Just last week, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson claimed that it was a “scandal” for Labour MPs to appear on RT. However, every time RT makes western media headlines, the reaction to the popularity of the channel only seems to grow, Lionel noted.
“If I didn’t know better, I would swear RT is working on one of the most incredible stealth PR programs ever. Every time the New York Times or the Washington Post or anybody else does some exposé about RT, it makes people in this country even more interested and more fascinated with what RT does,” Lionel pointed out.
Since RT registered on YouTube in 2007, the network has been constantly expanding its online presence, bringing to its viewers the latest and most viral news in a wide range of video formats, while exploring new designs. Last year, RT broke new ground in posting the first 360-degree HD video from aboard the International Space Station.
RT’s most popular videos over the last year include Donald Trump’s victory speech after winning the presidential election, an interview with the President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte, and a documentary about a hitman who worked for Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.
“RT’s goal is, and has always been, to inform. The hysteria surrounding such mundane activities as RT’s social-media advertising of its content — something done by practically all news organizations — speaks to the establishment’s fear of losing the monopoly on information, and betrays a concerted effort to push RT out of the US market,” RT said in a statement to the WSJ.
Droze believes there is a more sinister agenda behind the ongoing anti-RT campaign, and that is, to silence all alternative news flows.
“It is bigger than just going after Russia,” Droze said. “It is about alternative opinions and independent news that contradict the American audience. They want to limit that view on YouTube. They want to limit that view on Facebook.”