The Daily Show Effect: Humor, News, Knowledge and Viewers
What happens when the "news" is presented in an amusing format? The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is the result of the merging of several entertainment programming trends, notably the news satire format and the talk show format. The Daily Show's unique formatting raises these questions for examination: What exactly is the political content of the program and who is the audience absorbing this content? Who consumes The Daily Show and what specifically are they consuming? For decades now, the youngest segment of the American public has been losing interest in the traditional sources of news. While their disinterest in traditional news has grown, they have shown themselves willing to consume news information from different sources. One of the most interesting new sources of news is the late-night comedy TV show. Because these programs have the potential to become important sources of news, it is important to see whether they are agenda setting for their audiences. Using two media consumption surveys, this project first constructs a political profile of the audience and then, through a statistical analysis of the guest list of the program, determines whether the audience's political viewpoint is correlated with the majority of the show's political guests. I found that The Daily Show audience is younger, liberal, and leans toward the Democratic party. But the guest list of the program betrays no favoritism to Democrats or Republicans or liberals or conservatives. While a review of the guest list over time leads to the conclusion that the program is increasing its numbers of political guests, the host and executive producer Jon Stewart is not stacking the program with guests of one political type..
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