Here’s a question for the day: Which news channel recently reached the 100,000 subscriber mark on YouTube? Is it CNN? Nope. Fox News? Not even close.
It’s RT America, a relatively new 24-hour news channel in comparison to the major, established bigwigs like Fox News and CNN. As of today, the Russian government-funded television channel has 101,347 subscribers on YouTube with more than 36 million video views. RT America is the United States affiliate of RT (formerly Russia Today), which in its own right has more than 283,000 subscribers and more than 725 million views—far surpassing competitor Al-Jazeera English’s 369 million video views.
What sets RT America apart from the more traditional news networks in the US? On its YouTube channel page, RT America’s mission is to “report on the other side of the story, not making any conclusions, but raising the unanswered questions.”
From its sampling of videos, RT America has covered many stories that have either received scant or no coverage such as the Quebec student strikes and the beating death of homeless and schizophrenic man Kelly Thomas in Southern California.
With the success of RT America’s YouTube channel comes controversy. Although it has made strides to a certain segment of the American audience, it has been criticized for taking a pro-Russian government stance (it is an arm of RIA Novosti—a Russian government news agency). It has even made reports critical of other news organizations, most notably competitor Al-Jazeera and Al-Jazeera English.