Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What is Journalism?

In class, we have recently been discussing shows like The Daily Show or the The Colbert Report, late night satirical shows that deal with political issues. We discussed in class what the role of these shows really is, but we were not quite successful in defining them. The more politically active students were more inclined to argue that these type of shows are not journalism and that people such as Jon Stewart should not be considered journalists. I'm not quite sure I fully agree with them. I don't think they are journalists in the conventional sense as they are not objective, they only present their side of the story. However, they are transparent about their agendas, and don't try to be objective, therefore at least anyone watching their shows, knows what to expect. As we discussed in class, these shows have a very interesting role. They aren't quite journalists, but they do present news stories and current political issues. Meaning that because they aren't journalists they don't have the same requirements as "normal" journalists, therefore they can project their opinions on issues, and it also allows them to criticize journalists for their flaws. I think this role that they have taken is incredibly important, because these shows act as watchdogs on the media. I do not believe that any media outlet or news story is presented in an unbiased manner, therefore, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have created an outlet to catch biased moments in journalism as well as other political issues. 

I am someone who does not read many newspapers, really just the New York Times. To be honest I don't have the time to read all different newspapers, and I think the people who argue that it's sad for people to only read one newspaper are very naive. I would argue that most people do not spend their time flipping through various newspapers, trying to get a well rounded presentation of current events. Life's busy, very few people have time for that. Therefore, I think these shows are very important, because not everyone has the time to sit and read through many different articles, but people are more inclined to watch a late night television show, when they are tired in bed after a long day of work, so at least people are gaining some information on current events, even though it is one sided and highly subjective. It's better than nothing. I'm not saying that people should watch these shows over reading newspapers, but I do think these shows play an important role as watchdogs on the media, as well as just another outlet for current events, even though it's not the conventional way to learn about the news.

1 comment:

  1. I come down on the side that argues that the hosts of these shows cannot properly be called "journalists." It's true that it's impossible to eliminate all bias from any news source, but if you are at least trying to be unbiased, it is more likely that you will present a more complete and accurate picture of a situation.

    That being said, just because the shows are not journalism does not mean that they do not have value, especially when it comes to reaching an apathetic public. By labeling these shows journalism, we make them subject to the standards of conventional journalism, making it easier to ignore their value. However, if we recognize that they are perhaps their own niche of media, we can analyze both their positive and negative effects more accurately.