YouTube for anger and activism in Sri Lanka


Largely on account of two short videos capturing reactions to the assassination of the Editor in Chief of the Sunday Leader and senior journalist Lasantha Wickremetunge in Sinhala and English, Vikalpa’s YouTube Channel was the 59th most viewed channel on YouTube yesterday. At the time of writing this post, the Sinhala video has been viewed 1,846  times and the English 1,249 times. 

This is the second time Vikalpa YouTube channel has entered the top 100 list on YouTube amongst Reporter’s Channel worldwide. The first was for its coverage commemorating the anti-Tamil riots in Sri Lanka in July 2008

It’s really horrible that it takes an event of such a tragic nature to propel our work higher in this list, but it does also demonstrate once again that short videos on YouTube in particular, and online video in general, can be a powerful platform for activism and advocacy. Videos on Vikalpa’s Channel have been viewed tens of thousands of times. Videos on a site I created to archive online 30 second spots commemorating the July 1983 riots that were produced for and first broadcast on TV have also generated thousands of views. 

Vikalpa’s YouTube video channel reaches and generates far more people and interest respectively than its website, which gets around 350 readers on average a day. This is significant in a country that does not enjoy good bandwidth (most of the viewers and readers are from Sri Lanka). It suggests that online video – especially short videos – can be are are re-distributed, cross-featured, emailed the links to, embedded, downloaded and copied and if their license allows it, re-worked and re-edited to create viral campaigns, including those on social networks such as Facebook and Myspace, that can meaningfully strengthen real world activism and advocacy against violence.

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