YouTube is not a new platform, but young reporters like Clancy Burke are part of a growing phenomenon that reflects its popularity. Millennial and Gen-Z hires in local TV newsrooms are increasingly likely to have established YouTube “brands” of their own — creating both a challenge and an opportunity for their bosses.
Burke is a morning reporter for WKRC Local 12, the Sinclair-owned CBS/CW affiliate in Cincinnati, Ohio, but she is also a YouTuber, dropping videos once a week for her nearly 400,000 subscribers. And she had her own channel long before she was a reporter.
“I was actually a freshman in high school, and it all started out of boredom,” Burke said. “I’ve always just loved teaching. If you look at my videos, that’s kind of the core of what it all is.”
Burke was getting thousands of views for each of her videos — a diary of sorts of what goes on in her life. Her new boss hired her in April partly because of her YouTube savvy.
“We are looking for people who understand how to communicate with Millennials,” News Director Tim Geraghty said. “YouTube is fast becoming more and more of a source for folks to not only be entertained but to gather information.”
Once Burke started posting about her new life as a TV morning news reporter, she hit the YouTube jackpot. Her video ‘My 2 a.m. Morning Routine’ has over four million views, and it continues to grow.
Since her personal YouTube channel’s viewership is so high, Burke can monetize her videos. She does not disclose how much she makes on YouTube, not even to the News Director. And even though her work at the station is arguably what’s driving her YouTube growth, he’s okay with that.
“I don’t necessarily see it as a side job for Clancy,” Geraghty said. “She was very open with us. We knew about it the day we hired her. I don’t know how much money she makes.”
Geraghty says that the station doesn’t have a set policy on what a reporter on YouTube should and shouldn’t say. It’s “case by case,” says Geraghty, as long as the channel doesn’t “pose a direct conflict with our work product or work schedules and doesn’t cross any journalistically ethical boundaries.”
The ultimate hope for Geraghty is that Burke’s channel will help attract new viewers to the station.
“I believe that the vast majority of people who subscribe to her page probably are not local TV viewers” said Geraghty, “and one of our hopes is if they enjoy watching Clancy, they might give her a try on our app or watch her on the regular TV channel.”
Burke agrees that YouTube allows her to build a rapport with potential news viewers.
“People want to get their news from people they like, they want to get their news from people they know,” Burke said. “And that’s what’s going to make someone tune into your channel instead of the…other channels in your market.”