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The pandemic was ruthless on the media industry and the newsmen. A good number of them lost their jobs as media houses downsized to cut costs. YouTube turned out to be an alternate platform for media people. A good number ventured into YouTube. In the last year and half, they have had to adapt to a medium where edgy political satire and discussion draws more clicks than regular news.
The pandemic confined people to their homes due to the lockdown, potentially creating a larger captive audience for visual media. Many YouTube channels have started serving the demand for satire and discussions. The Assembly elections in 2021 kept them busy and provided much material for content, says Sivakumar Natarajan who runs the YouTube channel, News Focus Tamil.

The Assembly elections in 2021 kept them busy and provided much material for content, says Sivakumar Natarajan who runs the YouTube channel, News Focus Tamil

Sivakumar Natarajan who runs the YouTube channel, News Focus Tamil.

Sivakumar traces the popularity of political satire in the region to a five-minute programme telecast in the AsiaNet Malayalam channel 20 years ago. The comedy show with look-alikes of then Chief Minister Karunakaran and opposition leader Achuthananthan turned out to be an instant success. The five-minute programme was upgraded to half-an-hour one later.


Sivakumar said that most of the YouTube channels on political satire operate out of Tamil Nadu. There are around 100 YouTube channels in Tamil Nadu discussing politics and political leaders. The number is growing even after the Assembly elections, he added.
YouTuber Minor who runs U2 Brutus, a political discussion channel, feels that there is an audience for satire that regular TN news channels have refrained from venturing into. The mistrust among people that the mainstream media run by political parties is biased and the political developments analyzed with a pinch of satire on their YouTube channels bring viewership, he said.
Jackson Divakaran was part of Coimbatore-based Nakkalites YouTube channel when it was started in 2016. He now runs ‘Manja Notice’ a socio-political satire channel. The assembly elections 2021 turned out to be a happening period for channels like them. The programs trolling AIADMK leaders’ campaign debacles were a huge success during that time, Jackson said.

Youtuber Minor who runs U2 Brutus Channel

But running political satire or news channels on YouTube comes with a risk. Recently, journalist Rangaraj Pandey’s Chanakyaa TV YouTube channel was blocked. It was claimed that someone hacked the channel or YouTube blocked it after someone reported it. The political affiliation and intolerance towards counter-views result in YouTube channel operators reporting and crippling the channels of each other, YouTubers point out.


YouTuber Iyan Karthikeyan feels that the onus of responsibility lies on YouTubers to provide quality and genuine content to viewers. Many YouTube channels don’t verify the authenticity of news. The rigour of professional journalism is often lacking, as is the norm in social media. Sleazy content is a quick way to build readership, he said.

Running a YouTube channel is relatively inexpensive. A mobile phone is all it takes to shoot, record and edit videos. Journalists on YouTube coordinate and share content as well.

Logistics is easy. Distribution logistics are not there and a mobile phone is often enough to shoot, record and edit content

With contacts developed in mainstream journalism, they are able to bring in well known names for their shows, which pure YouTubers are often unable to do. At times, they are even ahead of mainstream media in discussing political developments with experts. The flip side is that there is no control over these YouTube channels. There is a danger of spinning false news into a trending one. Unverified gossip turns out to be a topic for debate.
Monetizing is the tough part though. Personal savings of the journalists are often the source of funds for the channels. But there is an upside. Hundreds of media graduates walking out of college find ready jobs in these channels. With fewer restrictions, YouTube channels offer them a training ground.
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