Content creators

How content creators get involved in cases like Summer Wells | WJHL

ROGERSVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – The old thinking in the news industry was that everyone has a story. Social media has opened the door to change, and now it seems like everyone has a chance to tell a story…any story.

Such was the case with the search for five-year-old Summer Wells, who went missing at Hawkins Co. YouTube has given crime junkies a new outlet with an investigative twist.

“We really appreciate social media because it gave us a voice, and we had no idea our voice was going to be as loud as it was,” said content creator Cam Hillman.

All you have to do is search YouTube for Summer Wells, Hawkins County, or anything related to the missing girl. Click and you can find theories, accusations and even live debates.

It’s all there online. There are also attempts to do good.

“We never want to post anything that is speculation,” Alli Hillman said.

“We have to be quiet a lot, and that’s not a popular thing. It’s got the new, the best, the rumor, the gossip, and it really causes a lot of trouble. If you can’t find something involved in the case, then you attack someone who is, and we’re just trying to stop it,” Cam, Ali’s husband, said.

The husband and wife team are a pair of content creators who say they stick to the facts.

“We may not be the first to post the information, but we try to be simple and factual,” Cam said. “There’s a lot of drama that comes with YouTube, and there’s a lot of gossip going on — and trying to get away from that is hard because, you know — dramas sell.”

They are welcome at the Wells family estate on Ben Hill Road.

“We were invited and they made us feel very welcome,” Cam said.

The Hillmans run the “Crackin’ Cases” channel on YouTube, which they say is “dedicated to finding and researching missing child cases, true crimes” and topics of that nature.

“People really got hooked on us, and we started our own channel, and it started and we were able to get involved. We never thought it would go this far,” Cam said.

“Never,” Alli said. “Being here on this property and talking about things that we’ve only seen from [the media’s] point of view.”

They were given full access to ownership, allowing them to cover ground for their viewers and subscribers that their online competitors do not.

“We came here and filmed the trails leading to and from the property. We covered the dog run, which is a much talked about place in this case.

For the average person, cases like this are interesting, but Cam and Alli say it’s not a hobby for them; everything is work. They also say it helps keep Summer’s story there.

“There’s a lot of good going on there. It’s a lot of work. It’s a full-time job,” Cam said. “There are a lot of negatives, which you said we’ll talk about, but it’s very stressful.”

Interest in summer and competition for clicks goes far beyond northeast Tennessee. Regular posts from other content creators come from as far away as the West Coast and even England.

“I think in terms of viewers, I think they really trust what we’re doing, and they know we’re local, and so it gives a different perspective, especially with other YouTubers because we’re local,” said Cam, being from nearby Abingdon, Virginia. “We’re called ‘boots in the field’.”

“Yeah, we’re called ‘boots on the pitch’ here,” Allison reiterated.

Their hearts are as close to this case as their zip code.

“That’s basically why this case hit us close to home because we have a little girl who’s the same age as Summer,” Cam said. “So that really lit a fire in us to do something in this community.”

YouTube investigators are their own invention. It was not a vocation or an interest a few years ago. Technology changes everything, and that change has had bumps in the road. Some are really trying to make YouTube better and more honest.

“There are a lot of dramas happening. There’s a lot of fighting between creators, and that needs to stop,” Cam said. “It’s not about us. It’s about those kids. It’s about those people.

For some, creating content on the platform is a full-time job. People earn what they can by saying what they feel. Alli is also a full-time nurse and Cam is a part-time mechanic.

You can find full coverage of Summer Wells’ research on WJHL.com.