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YouTube aims to be major news provider

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs is answering questions on YouTube, the latest in the video-sharing site's evolution as an interactive news source.
Fifteen minutes after President Obama addresses the nation on the Gulf oil spill, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs will answer questions on YouTube.
Fifteen minutes after President Obama addresses the nation on the Gulf oil spill, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs will answer questions on YouTube.YouTube
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If you’ve still got questions before or after President Barack Obama addresses the nation on the Gulf oil spill (tonight at 8 p.m. ET), go ahead and submit them to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. He’ll be doing his best to answer after the speech, .

It won’t be the first time the nation’s most tech-friendly presidency interacted with the masses via the video-sharing site. In 2008, the-then President-elect made history when he recorded the weekly Democratic Party address for radio and video that was posted on YouTube.

These days, the White House has its own YouTube channel. And starting now, you can submit your questions in either video or text form via the site’s recently-updated Google Moderator tool. (Google owns YouTube.) Even if you don’t have a question to submit, you can view and vote for questions from others.

This event is just the latest in the evolution of YouTube, along with all social media including Facebook, Twitter and Flickr as valuable sources of breaking news. Today, YouTube also announced the YouTube News Feed, a new feature the site will be testing this summer, working with University of California at Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. Seems like a great idea.

Consider the impact social media had one year ago during the post-election protests in Iran with news posted on Twitter, images on Flickr and YouTube.

Because of those sites and technology in general, “Even after the Iranian government kicked out every single foreign journalist, we knew exactly what was happening in Iran, who was being arrested, who was being killed,” Reza Aslan, an Iranian-American journalist and author said in a recent interview on NPR’s “On the Media.”

“We knew what was going on in the backroom discussions in the Parliament, thanks to the people on the ground who were giving us this information, not just through Twitter but through e-mails, through mobile phone exchanges.”

YouTube’s News Feed will focus on breaking news videos with what the site’s blog describes as “a focus on strong visuals, non-traditional sources and the very latest uploads.” Examples cited include a natural gas well explosion in North Texas, a citizen’s election fraud investigation in New Jersey and a runaway elephant in Zurich, Switzerland.

Users are invited to upload their own breaking news videos and alerts by contacting the site’s CitizenTube blog via Twitter (). is the site’s existing news and politics blog that’s been used in the past to track news videos, including events such as the Iranian election protest and Los Angeles wildfires.