Valentí Sanjuan was our guest speaker in class on Wednesday. It was so interesting to hear the story of someone who has used YouTube to develop his own brand, and now agency, and become an inspiration to so many people.
Valentí has established himself as a brand, representing hope, perseverance, strength and determination. He told us about how he has achieved this status, and it turns out that he has relied mostly on one source: YouTube. He maintains his own YouTube channel where he has developed a fan base made up of followers who want to stay updated on his adventures and great feats.
Here is one of the videos he showed in class, which exemplifies his strength and determination:
In each of his videos, he tells a story just as a journalist would. He emphasized in class that in order for a story to be effective and make an impact on viewers, it must be something that the storyteller is passionate about. He or she must really believe there is a reason other people should know about it, whether it is that it can move the world in a positive direction, make someone’s day better, or give people some inspiration. As Frederick Levy states in his book 15 Minutes of Fame: Becoming A Star In The Youtube Revolution, “YouTube has always been about the idea of creating and developing something that would change the world” (1). Valentí Sanjuan’s success is a testament to this mission.
Valentí mentioned another necessary component of being a successful journalist: a camera — but not necessarily the kind of professional camera used to film a reality television show. The only tool anyone needs to portray their story to the world on YouTube is an iPhone. In previous class discussions, we’ve identified the iPhone as a key tool when it comes to citizen journalism. Valentí made the point that the iPhone can do everything necessary to document a story: It provides a way to find sources to support an argument, a way to upload videos, a way to grow audiences (through social media sites), and a way to respond to the audience’s feedback about the video. As Valentí states, 10 years ago you needed a lot of help to broadcast your story to a wide audience. Today, all you need is the curiosity and desire to tell a story, or to “give something a voice, inspire people,” as Valentí said.
I thought it was especially fascinating when Valentí pointed out the fact that even though he owns his brand, he is not his only boss. His main boss is made up of the mass of people who give him the support he needs to continue doing his job– in other words, his fans. This made me realize how much power YouTube has in determining who or what can become a trustworthy, popular source of information and stories.
Valentí Sanjuan was such an entertaining, interesting and informative guest speaker. It is truly amazing how he was able to branch off from the show “Visto Lo Visto” and do something completely different with his time and energy. Using only a self-held camera and the social networking abilities of YouTube, he has managed to gain the ability to reach tens of thousands of people and tell inspiring stories that positively impact viewers. He encourages people to focus on the good in life and believe that anyone can get through difficult times with the right attitude. Valentí says he is only focused on the present and doesn’t make any plans for the future. I can’t wait to see what he’ll do next.
- Levy, Frederick. 15 Minutes of Fame: Becoming a Star in the YouTube Revolution. Penguin, 2008.