Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Blog #7 - Welcome to the fake news

Due: Friday, May 1
Minimum Word Cout: 350
Minimum Links: 3

A Study by the Pew Research Study claims that people who view The Daily Show and Colbert Report are more informed than other people when it comes to the news. At the very least, they are as informed as readers of Major Newspapers.
Data from Pew Research Study
Data from Pew Research Study

However, the study also found that
Since the late 1980s, the emergence of 24-hour cable news as a dominant news source and the explosive growth of the internet have led to major changes in the American public's news habits. But a new nationwide survey finds that the coaxial and digital revolutions and attendant changes in news audience behaviors have had little impact on how much Americans know about national and international affairs.

Essentially, it found that Americans, in general, aren't any more informed about current event news stories now than they were 20 years ago, despite CNN, MSNBC, CSPAN, and thousands of online news sources. We're also less informed than Europeans about World issues (CJR - A News Deficit). That could bring up the first question - why do you think that is?

2006 Study showed that more than half of American teens got their news from entertainment sources (including the Daily Show and Colbert Report) at least once a week, and that
Only 10 percent of teens say they are not at all interested in the news, mostly because they feel it isn’t presented in an interesting way.

Things brings up a second question, but look for that later.

Recently, Jon Stewart has gone on the offensive against the media, claiming that it's not only boring, but also harmful to American. The first clip is his now famous appearance on Crossfire, where Stewart argues that the show is hurting the country when it could be helping the country. He argues that the focus shouldn't be on debate and contention but on informing and analysis - looking for meaning from both sides.

The second clip is more recent. After trading barbs on their own shows, Jon Stewart and Jim Kramer went face-to-face on the set of The Daily Show, and the general opinion is the Stewart dominated the discussion. He accused Kramer of being, in a word, evil and showed evidence of him manipulating the stock market for the benefit of his own show. He once again pointed out a way that the media is twisting reality for profit and drama. Are his criticisms of specific shows representative of the news media as a whole, or is this just a battle for ratings between two shows?

The backstory:

The Summary of the show:

In class this week, we've seen examples of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report using their status as Wise Fools to tell the truth about news in the name of Comedy. We've also seen C-SPAN and CNN and the way they've presented news.

What the public knows
What the public knows? From Pew Research (2014)

A recent book I read said that most people view The Daily Show as more honest than other news sources because they believe that the voice of Jon Stewart reflects their own voice better. His outrage mirrors their outrage, his desperation matches their desperation, and his sense of helplessness is something they can relate to. Simply because he's free to be funny, emotional, confused, and angry - something traditional journalists all have been trained to avoid - he gains credibility and popularity. The Pew Study shows that his delivery isn't making people dumber, either. His audience is as smart as any audience. (I won't go as far as to say that he's making people smart. Maybe smart people are more likely to watch his show for any number of reasons.)

At the same time, are major media outlets trying harder to win awards and get respect from other news outlets than to actually inform readers about things that matter to them? Is "good news" being produced that doesn't actually matter?

Delaney Freer explores the concept of the Court Jester and the "Crazy Grandma" in her blog. Look to her writing for some inspiration and great sources to get you started thinking deeper about the topic. She even found some sources on how Court Jesters work in today's business world.

So, here are the questions I can come up with. Feel free to make your own questions. You get major respect for that.

  1. Do you think that traditional media outlets should attempt to change their presentation to get more of an audience? If so, how should they change?

  2. What do you think about the fact that only 10% of teens are interested in the  news and that most of them say that it's because the news is presented poorly? Why do you think that is? 66% of teens say they get most of their news only from the front pages of portal sites (like Yahoo, Google, and MSN's default front pages).

  3. Do you think that Fake News can be better than actual news, or is this a dangerous road to travel? Should news organizations ignore Entertainment to adhere to strict ethics codes, or should they start dabbling in Comedy, too?

  4. Make your own response! Please!