News rituals of participation: Negotiating temporalities, categories, and hierarchies of news-making on YouTube


  • Johanna Sumiala
  • Minttu Tikka


media anthropology, YouTube, news, ritual, participation, video response, Gaza/Israeli flotilla


This article explores YouTube as an emerging news medium in the context of media anthropology. It applies virtual ethnography to the news-making in the case of flotilla news: on 31 May 2010, the Israeli Navy intercepted a flotilla of six boats carrying aid to Gaza. In the navy attack, nine passengers were killed. A YouTube news video was published on the day of the attack by the professional news agency Russia Today, and it received 13 video responses from professional news producers and amateurs, including YouTubers. The virtual ethnography brings about a ritual aspect of participation in YouTube news. The authors of this paper suggest that news rituals of participation play a critical role in the process of re-negotiating hierarchies and practices of news making as they offer novel ways of structuring the unexpected in this evolving culture of news. Consequently, ritualised participation on YouTube news is changing not only this who are making news, what news is, but also the process of studying news making in these fluid contexts.