Satire and Journalism

By Chelsey Teachout

Photo courtesy of John, Creative Writing Blog

The purpose of satire is to open up the forum for current issues.  Like news publications that publish stories about current issues, should satiric publications practice their own code of ethics as well?

Recently Drake University’s Independent Newspaper released their Spring 2011 issue of their publication.  In the issue an article entitled “Irresponsible Global Citizenship” quoted students of Drake organizations like College Republicans, Campus Fellowship, Society of Professional Journalists, Pi Kappa Alpha, Students for Women’s Issues, and DUiN.  The quotes were manufactured by the anonymous writer “El Soph”. 

For example, the article quoted the College Republicans president: “We’re committed to smaller government, so we’re heading to the country with the smallest government in the world: Somalia!”

At the risk of possible libel lawsuits this publication printed these false quotes.  Shouldn’t the standards of journalism apply to this publication? Under no circumstances should a publication quote material that is false.  Granted, satiric material is made to poke fun, but general audiences take quoted material seriously.

The rise of the information age has inundated communities with a wealth of information.  With so much information at the fingertips of people, there is always the risk of receiving wrong information. Should satiric publications adopt stricter codes of ethics or is it okay to simply disclose that the information is fake?


8 responses to “Satire and Journalism

  1. This is awesome. 😉

  2. If I could virtually snap to this post, I definitely would.

    I was very upset by the fabricated quotes in the DUiN story. Satire or not, journalism has ethics and values put into place for a reason. If any satirical publication wants to find success, they should take factual information and spin it in a humorous light. That’ll definitely get them more laughs and more dedicated followers.

  3. I’m glad you support an ethical standard for satiric publications. They would also be more effective if they knew the material or subjects in better detail. Then the critique would have more merit and effect.

  4. Kelly Hendricks

    I like this post. I think that DUiN, along with other publications of that site, need to follow ethical guidelines. There are no excuses for libel in my opinion — no matter what time or magazine or newspaper it is in.

  5. Kelly Hendricks

    that is supposed to say SORT not site

  6. erikaraeowen

    If they are presenting information like this, understanding and not with-holding the fact that some information may be fabricated, they are not expecting people to take them seriously. Can’t we just leave it at that? If the publication isn’t expecting its audience to use them as a credible source, don’t treat it like that. I think we should just grab a copy, read what they have to say, accept the satire, and move on.

  7. Alyssa Martin

    I have to agree with Erika on this one. If the purpose of the publication is satire, and they clearly state this, then they really shouldn’t be held accountable. They are writing satire for the purpose of satire, and nothing else. It’s merely for amusement.

  8. I had a HUGE issue with them misquoting people. Even if it is satire, these people quoted are not famous in any respect and are not public figures—misquoting these people has know satirical effect whatsoever. If I was misquoted I would have been extremely irate with this magazine. Satire is supposed to be funny. This wasn’t.

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