Posted by Cassie Myers
In 2013 Comedy Central announced that for the first time ever “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and “The Colbert Report” had topped the ratings for late night talk shows among key demographic, Adult 18-24. That same year a Pew Research study found that the audience for three major TV news channels (CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News) all declined by 11%.
While many try to shrug off satirical news programs, they have a real and valuable foothold in America. Many Millennials today are fed up with not only the media, but with politics in general. That’s where people like Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and new-comer John Oliver come in.
Comedic news programs do more than make fun of the media and bipartisan political drama, they influence the way people think about political issues and figures. In 2012, Stephen Colbert used his show to educate viewers on how super PAC’s work. According to a study done by Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania and the Pew Research Center these segments made his viewers more knowledgable about campaign finance laws than those who watched traditional news sources.
It’s clear based off of the 2008 and 2012 elections that political figures themselves are beginning to notice the importance these shows have on potential voters. “Saturday Night Live” becomes a hub for political skits and cameos during election season and it’s hard to deny that skits such as the ones involving Tina Fey as Sarah Palin didn’t affect America’s opinion of the vice-presidential candidate.
While it’s important to realize that these shows are satirical, they can be a great source of information. They are willing to call out networks for bad reporting and often work to help their audience understand complicated political jargon.
Do you think these kind of comedic news programs can be a good source of information? Or should they leave the reporting to news networks like CNN and MSNBC?