Channel 4 news anchor and colourful tie-wearing legend Jon Snow will join forces with YouTube in an attempt to reach young voters in the run-up to the general election.
The deadline for registering online to vote in May’s election is today, but with parties preparing for a potential coalition once more, Snow has criticised them for not being open enough and willing to answer questions.
“The old form of access we had, the rather quaint, English, shambolic daily press conference. You … did actually get to ask questions. Clegg and Miliband have made themselves available, but the Prime Minister has been quite remote,” he told The Independent.
“People are finding it difficult to tell one party from another,” he added. “This flashing about of figures is confusing – whether something is or isn’t funded.”
Now, though, the 67 year old – who will a BAFTA Fellowship in May – will become the face of a YouTube initiative to encourage turnout among younger voters. 39 years after he first joined ITN, Snow will anchor the YouTube Spotlight channel, offering election news and analysis.
The coverage, which will be round-the-clock, will be split into playlists for YouTube viewers to watch, with daily blogs released at 8am to help users keep up with the latest events.
“It’s very much aimed at first-time voters, the 18- to 24-year-olds, people who don’t necessarily know a great deal about what’s going on in the campaign and are difficult for terrestrial channels to reach,” he explained.
“We’ll take one topic every day, like housing or defence, and ITN will make a video, no longer than four minutes long, laying out the issues and what the parties are going to do in as accessible way as possible.”
It’s the latest in a string of online initiatives to reach younger audiences. The BBC has commissioned an iPlayer-exclusive general election show with Frankie Boyle, YouTube has streamed the debated live (with each available to catch-up afterwards, while Channel 4 will host the first ever Youth Leaders’ Debate on 4oD replacement All 4 on Monday 28th April.
YouTube vloggers will also be involved, providing a panel for discussion that will aim to reach Spotlight’s 22 million subscribers and beyond. Channel 4 viewers, who consume their news on a nightly basis at 7pm on terrestrial TV, will also be steered towards YouTUbe for live web debates after the programme.
“I’ve moved seamlessly into cyberspace,” he joked. And the tie? “It’s enjoyed by a lot of young people I meet. They recognise it for what it is – a rebellion.”
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