March 1, 2023
(DOHA, Qatar) — Hasan Piker is a prolific political streamer on Twitch. With over 2.4 million followers on the platform, he also has a presence on YouTube with almost 1.2 million subscribers and what Hasan dubs “The Hasanabi Industrial Complex,” an adjacent network of fan channels that also exist on the platform often regurgitating his published content. Given the extent of his online presence, there is no doubt that Piker has influence and reach but it begs the question: is he a journalist?
Journalism, in its most basic definition, is “the gathering, processing, and distribution of news and information, and the manner in which news and information is presented to an audience.” Does Piker fit this bill? In my opinion, absolutely. He spends usually 8 hours a day, 6-7 days a week on his broadcast covering the news of the day. He covers topics ranging from police brutality and racial injustice to geopolitics and elections. For example, on February 8th, 2023, at 6:20 p.m. ET, the Hasanabi Twitch stream amassed over 68 thousand views on his live broadcast about the aftermath of the earthquakes in Turkey.
Hasan’s background aids his legitimacy. He graduated cum laude from Rutgers University with a double major in political science and communication studies. Afterward, he started working for The Young Turks, a news organization operating on YouTube with over 5.3 million subscriptions today. He created and hosted “The Breakdown,” which was composed of short videos for social media breaking down current topics such as racism in America, which delved into the subject of the rise of the radical right and adjacent topics. In 2020, Hasan left The Young Turks to focus on his solo Twitch career and one may argue that it has paid off thus far.
What further bolsters that Piker is a journalist is that he doesn’t merely regurgitate the news. He also interviews relevant people to inform his audience even further. In December of 2021, Piker interviewed investigators from the podcast TrueAnon, which presents a unique focus on the Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell trials. Last month, Piker interviewed journalist Andrew Callaghan of the Channel 5 YouTube channel about his new HBO documentary on the insurrection of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2022. Some days after the interview, allegations arose of sexual misconduct regarding the Channel 5 host. Piker did not shy away from discussing this issue on his stream even when he had a professional relationship with Callaghan.
However, Piker is not without caveats that might put into question his journalistic ethics. For one, he is explicitly left-wing. For some, this bias might put into question whether what he is discussing on his stream is truthful or clouded by his political bias. Also, some may argue that the language Piker uses can be seen as vulgar and blunt. Additionally, he has in the past thrown insults at those he deemed his ideological adversaries such as Ben Shapiro and Steven Crowder.
Clearly, Hasan Piker operates in a gray area of journalism. Though at times he does act within the confines of what a broadcast journalist might do, he also has made comments that might put into question his journalistic integrity. Nonetheless, he is an internet figure with a large reach and influence on the political discourse that takes place online. He should not be ignored because his venue is a platform more known for streaming video games. He has used that advantage to reach a younger audience with his political messaging, keeping them informed on what is happening in America and around the world.