Millennials and political commentary go together like teenagers and sweatpants. The convenience of having political commentators at our fingertips on YouTube has turned uneducated millennials into expert political analysts. As a Conservatrian (Conservative-Libertarian), I find political commentary on YouTube channels that enforce my ideologies, and others that stand in opposition. I consider myself well-grounded in my political ideology, grounded enough to write about it frequently. However, in political debate and discourse, opposition research is key in expertly presenting any political perspective. With the heavy decline in cable news and the distrust of the mainstream media, millennials often find their primary news from online articles and YouTube commentary.
The American Press Institute conducted a study titled, “How Millennials Get News: Inside the habits of America’s first digital generation.” According to the study, “adults age 18-34—so-called Millennials—do not visit news sites, read print newspapers, watch television news…” (1). With the rise of social media, podcasting and YouTube, millennials find it more convenient to get news from their phones, rather than TV stations. Social media is increasingly the place where young people get news and political advice. The same study continues in their findings. “Fully 88 percent of Millennials get news from Facebook regularly, for instance, and more than half of them do so daily...Facebook is not the only social network Millennials use for news. On average, those surveyed get news from more than three social media platforms — including YouTube (83 percent), and Instagram (50 percent)...” (2) At 83 percent, YouTube is an extremely important platform where millennials get information, so the information on the platform is key in understanding millennial voting trends.
Although major news channels have YouTube channels, oftentimes, their content is bland and they don’t put effort into it, because their main source of revenue comes from cable news. The YouTube news sphere is dominated by several key players. Some representing the left-wing and others representing the right wing. On the left-wing, The Young Turks represents a young progressive voting base. In their YouTube bio, The Young Turks, better known as TYT, describes themselves as, “The Largest Online News Show in the World...Young Turk (n), 1. Young progressive or insurgent member of an institution, movement, or political party. 2. Young person who rebels against authority or societal expectations. (American Heritage Dictionary)” (3) TYT touts an impressive 4.7 million YouTube subscribers at the time of writing. TYT’s large reach has led some of their anchors to feature on mainstream cable news, such as CNN. (4)
On the other side of the political aisle, the Daily Wire offers a right-wing political analysis. The Daily Wire describes itself as “a politically conservative news and opinion website...” (5) With 1.89 million subscribers, The Daily Wire presents itself as the most popular political conservative Youtube news network. With their most notable podcaster being Ben Shapiro, The Daily Wire attracts the conservative and libertarian political voting block.
YouTube is a platform for conservative, libertarian, moderate, socialist and communist political commentary. The beauty of the free market exchange of ideas is that the more popular a channel is, the more it becomes promoted to the general YouTube audience. Political ideology can become personal, sensitive, and can lead to intense discourse, however, I would encourage staunch conservative students to watch TYT and strong socialist students to watch The Daily Wire. As millennials, we pride ourselves as being the most open-minded generation, yet we oftentimes find ourselves in political bubbles and being afraid of someone from another political affiliation. Contrary to popular belief, most liberals and conservatives can agree on issues regarding foreign policy, religious issues, basic morality, and other bipartisan issues. Finding such common ground is key in obtaining the level playing field when beginning any sort of political discourse.