What are the best YouTube political channels

YouTube vlogs - politics for digital natives

Their formats are called MrWissen2Go or Jung & Naiv, their videos appear regularly on YouTube and reach millions of young people in Germany. Vloggers are not interested in music, computer games or lifestyle. It's about: politics.

It is summer 2015, the political and social debate in Germany revolves around the refugee crisis. Not an easy time for Chancellor Angela Merkel. It is the time when she is interviewed for the first time by a successful YouTuber. The vlogger LeFloid has nothing in common with the renowned political journalists who usually surround the Chancellor. Accordingly, after the interview was broadcast on YouTube in July 2015, there was also criticism: his questions were too harmless, the interview style too good. LeFloid is not a trained political journalist, and before that he was repeatedly accused of disseminating information in an unreflective manner.

The most important platform for moving images

So far, this has not diminished its success among young users. There were over five million views for the YouTube coup - significantly more than for each summer interview of the public broadcasters. The Berlin LeFloid, whose real name is Florian Mundt, is a star in his industry. The subject of his video contributions is not music, games or lifestyle topics. The trained pedagogue and psychologist conveys politics in around ten-minute clips, the LeNews. Since 2007 he has been commenting on current news events in a one-man show, which, through lively body language and pointedly flippant expressions, comes close to a poetry slam. 3.1 million subscribers watch it and so far have generated almost 630 million page views. This makes LeFloid one of the most subscribed YouTube channels in Germany.

But he was and is not the only YouTuber who conveys political content. Some formats disappeared just as quickly as they emerged, but many are pleased about the increasing number of subscribers, especially among young users. According to the 2017 JIM study by the Südwest Media Education Research Association, YouTube is "undisputedly the most important platform for video content among young people". 88 percent of young people between the ages of 12 and 19 use YouTube at least several times a week, 63 percent every day. About a third of this age group watch videos on breaking news.

MrWissen2Go - average age 19 to 21 years

So the young digital natives don't necessarily turn on the news when they want to see the news; many are not even eligible to vote. But that does not mean that they are politically disgruntled or less informed. To actively participate in the political discourse with new formats - that is the motivation with which YouTubers like Mirko Drotschmann, known as MrWissen2Go, compete. “What motivates me when working with YouTube is the many reactions from viewers,” explains the journalist, historian and author, who has been on the air with his channel regularly since 2012. “I can directly see how a video is received and respond to requests and suggestions. I am particularly happy when I see that I can trigger a discussion with a video and stimulate thought. "

In contrast to LeFloid, his topics not only come from the pool of daily headlines, but are sometimes more far-reaching. “What happens if war breaks out in Germany?” Or “Who is Vladimir Putin?” Asks Drotschmann in his videos. He usually does this in front of a white background, similar to a school blackboard, on which numbers or images are displayed. A good ten minutes in which the respective knowledge is imparted objectively and fact-based, but above all in a generally understandable manner. That looks more serious than with LeFloid, but it is also very popular among the more than 720,000 subscribers with an average age of 19 to 21 years.

Place for political opinion formation

MrWissen2go has been produced by funk since 2017. funk is a joint offer of the two German television broadcasters ARD and ZDF. Around 60 internet channels for the 14 to 29 age group are made available under this roof, including political formats such as Informr, Reporter, YKollektiv, Jäger & Collector. One of the few female YouTube vloggers in the political field, the 27-year-old communications scientist Eva Schulz, also broadcasts here. Deutschland3000 is the name of her channel, on which she conveys topics from anti-Semitism to waste avoidance in the style of a reporter in the field in a fast-paced and aggressive manner. If she is asked why she explains politics on YouTube, the answer is: "There are simply not enough places on the Internet where I can look as a young person to form an opinion on political events."

In contrast to the YouTubers produced by funk, Tilo Jung is a lone fighter. Correspondingly combative, he, who had completed a classic journalistic training, describes himself as a “freelance editor-in-chief”. In terms of content, it is important to him to be independent of the major broadcasting companies, which is why he is dependent on sponsors to finance his channel Jung & Naiv - Politics for the Disinterested. He also differs from many of his colleagues on YouTube in the form of his contributions. He conducts interviews and broadcasts them uncut, which is actually not YouTube-compatible with airtime of up to two hours. The contributions to his series Federal Government for the Disinterested, in which he broadcasts federal press conferences in their original length and asks questions to the MPs himself, are on average around an hour long. But the number of subscribers proves him right, as does the long series of prominent interview partners: over 350 interview episodes are online at the beginning of 2018, in which Jung hardly leaves out a person from public and political life in Germany. In the double sense of the word, because his role as a stupid, brazen questioner who likes to annoy his interview partner in an uncomfortable way has meanwhile become a cult.

Petra Schönhöfer
is a freelance journalist and author.
Copyright: Goethe-Institut e.V., Internet editorial office
July 2018