Making Them Laugh Won't Make Them Vote
September 1, 2004 5:37 PM
Careful not to label itself a “real news show,” The Daily Show with John Stewart delivers a satirical take on the 2004 presidential election to perhaps the most elusive audience for politicians - 18 to 29 year olds.
In January, a Pew Research Center for the People and the Press produced a report, which found the Daily Show was on par with such traditional outlets as public television broadcasts, Sunday morning news organizations and weekly news magazines.
The Pew report also found 21 percent of young people ages 18-29 get their campaign news from comedy TV shows, one percent higher than those who use the internet.
In the overall American population, eight percent of adults get their news from comedy shows - up two percent from 2000, but still well below traditional news programs.
“They don’t necessarily believe the Pew Research Center,” said Steve Albani, spokesman for Comedy Central, referring to producers of The Daily Show. “There were certain nuances that didn’t get examined closely,” he said.
The show is designed around the premise that the audience has some basic knowledge of current events so that the irony of the show’s commentary is immediate and clear.
Young people, like SF State students, are drawn to the show because it “filters out the b.s. and provides the viewers with what they [the producers] believe to be a kernel of truth,” Albani said.
Those who did watch it said they did so as a relief from what they said was the drudgery of daily news, but not as their primary source of political news.
“It’s the fact that it presents itself as a fake news show,” said Victor Omar Vargas, a fine art and industrial design major at SF State. “It’s easier to digest than regular news, especially with harder issues like war and people dying.”
“The average student is not terribly involved in the intricacies of policy,” Tabb said.
Chris Paterson, an assistant professor of media studies at the University of San Francisco wrote in an email interview that the appeal of late night TV, “has taken the role of capping off the day for younger people but they are tuning in for entertainment, not news.”
Even if “The Daily Show” isn’t reinventing political satire and serving as just entertainment, the show’s popularity reigns beyond simple viewing.
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