This is the second of my packet stories. For my journalism class this semester, we had to write what our teacher called a “packet project.” A packet is a collection of different news stories on one broad topic. I chose my topic to focus on the impact of online videos, which was both fun and challenging. We had to write a feature story, profile, and an editorial, which took us about half a semester.
For my profile story, I got to interview Kenneth Knight, a high school teenager who enjoys video editing and spent long hours building an online presence through YouTube.
For my feature story, click here.
For my editorial story, click here.
Knight: “I liked YouTube because I could put up whatever I wanted and I also could get feedback from anyone in the world.”
PENSACOLA. Fla. —It’s one in the morning with everything silent in the house save for a single voice coming deep from within a walk-in closet on the second floor. Inside the closet is set up like a studio, complete with cameras, a large desk and computer, and even sound panels mounted to the back wall. At the desk is a teenager known by YouTubers as KnightDukeGaming, RestartBurger, and ActualKenny — depending on the name of his YouTube channel at the time — as he busies himself with filming his newest YouTube upload. With giant noise-canceling headphones clapped over his ears, a Blue Yeti microphone, a webcam hooked up to his computer, and several empty Mountain Dew cans scattered around him, he cracks jokes and talks video game lingo to his online viewers.
Kenneth Knight, an eighteen-year-old high school senior, has enjoyed video editing and creating YouTube videos for several years. With nearly 4,000 subscribers on his channel, Knight is just one of many teenagers who have delved into the current YouTube trend, a trend that allows anyone to establish an online presence by filming videos, creating content, and voicing opinions for others to enjoy or learn from.
“Working with Kenneth is always a blast because he’s always coming up with new ideas,” said Grant McLravy, Knight’s high school friend who has often helped him film and edit YouTube uploads.
Knight has been editing videos since the discovery of his parents’ camcorder when he was eight-years-old and since then has honed his skill as an editor, YouTuber, and amateur filmmaker.
“[When I was eight] I would just point the camera at things and run in front of it and do stupid stuff…. the idea of being able to capture a moment and then re-see it was really cool to me,” Knight said as he remembered his first interactions with a video camera.
Soon after, Knight was playing with one of his recorded home movies on the computer when he discovered Windows Movie Maker, the software that sparked his interest in editing. After watching many other YouTubers, the question that drove Knight into the YouTube world was, “If they’re doing it, I should do it.”
Knight spent his days filming unboxing videos for technology such as phones and cameras, troubleshooting videos, gameplay from popular console and PC video games such as Call of Duty and Minecraft, video blogs (“vlogs”), and occasionally helped his high school friend make short films for contests and church projects.
His most-viewed video at 334,000 views depicts an eleven-year-old Knight as he explains the process of recovering a Windows account after forgetting its password. During the video, Knight encourages his audience to subscribe to his channel, mimicking other children and teenagers known to upload videos to gain an online following.
Knight says that he thinks children and teenagers are flocking to YouTube instead of TV because YouTube provides more interesting content in an instant manner. With YouTube, there isn’t a regularly scheduled program. There aren’t unwanted reruns of a favorite show. Anybody can search any content at any time.
“I liked YouTube because I could put up whatever I wanted and I also could get feedback from anyone in the world,” Knight said, voicing his own personal reasons for liking the social media outlet.
“I kept editing with Windows Movie Maker for years, and then I switched to Sony Vegas after,” Knight said in a Skype interview. “I wanted to do more with my videos. I would… see stuff other people could do, and I was like, ‘Shoot, I want to be able to do that.’ So I just googled how to do it, and I … taught myself Vegas and then Premiere.”
As Knight established his online presence of gaming videos and comedy, he also tried monetizing his uploads by partnering with YouTube. At age sixteen, Knight was uploading enough content to where he could earn nearly $100 a month, although he admitted to the amount fluctuating, depending on YouTube’s cost per thousand (CPM), which determines how much a company must pay in order for their advertisement to be displayed on monetized YouTube uploads.
Although Knight wasn’t necessarily raking in the cash, editing videos and running a public page gave him experience in a valuable hobby and creative drive.
“I like…having other people be able to enjoy the final product. I was just really proud of the stuff I made within the past year.… The more time I put into a video, the more I would edit videos; the more effort I put into it, the more proud I was of it.”
Knight currently runs the live stream at his church, likely stemming from his initial love for cameras and videos. As he prepares for his next few years in college, Knight has temporarily put the YouTube life on hold, but hopes to start it up again with a new angle — one that doesn’t involve gaming and battling block-shaped monsters in the cubic world of Minecraft.
“I still plan to do a lot of YouTube stuff in the future, but it’s just going to be a completely different kind of video and genre,” he said.
Knight plans to focus his YouTube channel on his newest fascination: cars. Already he’s begun a new channel dedicated to reviewing popular car models and recording different types of builds. He hopes, after raising the needed funds, to buy a car of his own and document how he modifies it to fit his needs.
“What I plan on doing in the future will probably wind up being my biggest project.”