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YouTube's top creator PewDiePie, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, is criticizing media coverage that misrepresented his announcement that he'd be taking a short break from posting videos in early 2020.
Multiple outlets ran headlines that said 30-year-old Kjellberg was quitting YouTube, distorting the nature of his announcement and his audience's reaction in the process.
Indie YouTube journalist Josh Pescatore, who runs the Pescatore News Network, told Insider that the coverage damages the credibility of the mainstream media to Kjellberg's massive, young fanbase.
Other YouTubers like Philip DeFranco, who is known for explaining YouTuber news, characterized the coverage as a credibility "crisis," and noted that bringing up Kjellberg's past controversies in unrelated articles comes across as "biased and predatory."
Felix Kjellberg, the 30-year-old known online as PewDiePie, used his humorous "Pew News" video on Tuesday to criticize some of the coverage he has received this week in mainstream media.
Specifically, he questioned the outlets that ran stories about him "quitting" YouTube, when he really just made a quick announcement that he would be taking a short break from his daily uploading cycle in early 2020.
"That's all I said, early next year I'll be away for a little while," Kjellberg said in his video. "I never said I'm quitting. [...] I didn't want to make a big deal out of it. And then out of all people, news media blows it up."
The outlets Kjellberg highlighted as publishing "fake news" about his break included CNN, the Daily Mail, and Mirror. He criticized CNN specifically for tying in his past controversies, described as "allegations of racism and anti-Semitism," which Kjellberg suggested made it sound like he was quitting because he was racist.
Kjellberg also blamed the framing on "boomers" who were angry that he amassed a $25 million net worth from making YouTube videos, and said none of his fans were "heartbroken" over the news because "they understand it's normal to take a break."
As YouTube's top personality with over 102 million subscribers, Kjellberg has uploaded daily videos for the better part of a decade. He has also stepped back before to avoid burnout. His content is generally humorous and sarcastic, and he does a lot of video gameplay, particularly "Minecraft," along with meme reviews and commentary on other YouTubers and YouTube culture.
"I think it's important for anyone to take a break, no matter what job you have," Kjellberg said in his video. "So much has happened this year that it's just been building up and up and up and I've never taken a break before."
The coverage of PewDiePie's break represents a growing disconnect between mainstream media and YouTube culture
John Lamparski/Getty Images
Josh Pescatore, an indie journalist who covers YouTube news through his Pescatore News Network, told Insider that there is a disconnect between reporters who described Kjellberg's break announcement as "quitting YouTube," the culture they're covering, and the audience that consumes news about the platform.
"This is a situation where context really did matter," Pescatore said. "Taking a break is what every YouTuber is doing now and many are being praised for it. The people that take their mental health into account in this industry, everyone one of them sits back and is praised for it. The largest problem we have right now is burnout."
In the last few years, numerous YouTubers have publicly announced breaks from creating content, citing algorithmic and cultural pressure to constantly be creating.
Another indie journalist who has a hugely successful YouTube presence, Philip DeFranco, used his news series "The Philip DeFranco Show" to address what he called a "crisis of credibility problem" in the mainstream media, taking issue with the fact that CNN focused on previous allegations of racism made against PewDiePie.
"When you do stuff like this, you provide an update to the story and you use it seemingly for no reason to once again try to muddy up someone's name, people see you as incredibly biased and predatory," DeFranco, who has more than 6.4 million subscribers, said.
"And you have millions of people, some of them younger, seeing this mainstream outlet go after someone they see as a buddy, seemingly without cause, because it seems so incredibly disconnected to those things in the past."
DeFranco suggested that the headline of a PewDiePie article should be 'Top YouTube creator promotes self-care in order to prevent burnout, even though during that time he'll make less money," something he said would get less clicks but be "rooted in reality."
PewDiePie's previous controversies also seemingly stemmed from a disconnect between the mainstream media and YouTube culture. PewDiePie came under fire for a series of videos where he made antisemitic jokes — including one where he seemingly commissioned two Indian men on Fiverr to hold up a sign reading "death to all Jews" while saying "subscribe to Keemstar," a popular YouTube drama personality.
The moment was clearly meant to be a punchline, but ultimately cost PewDiePie a major contract with Disney. Regardless of context, the shocking moment went too far for many mainstream companies and was irresistible for news outlets.
Pescatore suggested that stories that mischaracterize Kjellberg contribute to an overall generational divide between adults who rely on mainstream media and younger generations that don't see it as credible or reflective of the world around them.
"You have younger people saying 'get rid of the mainstream media,'" he said. "I don't know how they're going to fix that problem, because it's going to show itself. There's a generational divide that's been brewing. There are a lot of fed up younger people."
A Knight Foundation study found that young adults, between the ages of 18 and 34, were two times more likely than older respondents to say partisan bias or political coverage was part of the reason they mistrusted media.
That disconnect only stands to get wider following YouTube's latest policy announcement targeting identity-based harassment. Following a high-profile feud between former Vox personality Carlos Maza and conservative YouTuber Steven Crowder, where Maza took issue with Crowder repeatedly mocking his race and sexuality, YouTube announced that it was expanding its harassment rules to include cases where certain targeted jokes were being made.
The YouTube community, including DeFranco and PewDiePie, quickly and loudly decried the idea, suggesting that it would stifle innocent joking and satire.
In his video on the subject, DeFranco expressed the anxiety that many YouTubers were feeling around the enroachment of increased attention and mainstream values on their platforms, saying, "I [don't] know if I [am] now breaking YouTube policy."
Read the original article on Insider