Political Edutainment on American Television The case of The Daily Show
What is the relation between young audiences, public events information (news) and sustainable democracy (and the so-called crisis of public sphere)? • Newspaper daily readership declined from 67% in 1965 to 29% in 1996 Pew Center,1996 • TV news viewership declined from 52% in 1965 to 22% in 1996 Pew Center,1996 • Decreasing interest in news magazine (Katz, 1993) and traditional on-line news (UCLA, 2001) • Nearly 50% of Americans aged 18-29 acquired information of presidential campaigns on Comedy Shows on TV Pew Center, 2000
So, what´s happening ? The evidence suggests that one fundamental goal of a strong and healthy democracy, the so-called “informed citizenship” is not being accomplished among people under 30 by traditional news media • News media are no longer fulfilling their historic role of producing informed citizens (Habermas) Is it like this? • Whose fault is it? Who is to blame? • Television Entertainment is principally to blame (R. Putnam, A. Kay)
Hypothesis I want to suggest The model represented by a news satire talk show such as The Daily Show (TDS) might engage young audiences in political participation (media citizenship) through satire, fun, humor and public awareness
Entertainment Politics?? As a solution to .... • Public Dissafection • Decreasing Political Conversations • Political Socialization What kind, if any? • Engaging people who don´t vote and don´t care about public sphere
Comedy, News Satire & Politics • Network Era vs Cable Television Era • stand-up comedies • The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour • That was the week that was • Saturday Night Live • Late Show • Letterman, Leno and Stewart (TDS)
Research Methods: • Content Analysis TV show and website • Electronic Ethnography (Message Board, Email) • Quantitative Data (Nielsen/Initiative Media) Content and Audience of TDS
Watching Current Events at TDS • War on Terror • Slowdown: Iraq • Wartime – multiple perspectives “We can kill Saddam Hussein but we won´t win the war until we kill the idea of Saddam Hussein. So what we need to do is develop bombs that kill ideas” • Bush’s Tax Cut Plan • SARS attack • and so on ...
Laughing at Power and US Foreign Policy Henry Kissinger on The Daily Show (2002)
Some data concerning TDS’s audienceNew trend in male-oriented programming ...? • 63.3% of CMDY between 12-34 years • Source: Nielsen Media Ratings,2002
63.3% between 12-34 years • Source: Nielsen Media Ratings, 2002
Audience Composition: The Daily Show vs. network’s talk shows (NBC, CBS)
Who, When and Why of TDS’s audience Sent to Mailing List Posted in TDS ForumWhy do you watch TDS? What’ s the difference with other Talk Shows? Do you think that TDS viewers care about democracy, warand alternative ways of living? Do you watch it daily or how many times per week, on average? Do you visit TDS official website regularly? How many times per week/month? For what purpose?
Some answers ..... • TDS is a rare oasis in TV land. • It's intelligent without being high-brow. • It manages to inform and question while itentertains. • After September 11th, I think older people who actually watch the "real news" started to watch the daily show also.” • All those post-adolescent types who now realize their view of the world is solely comprised of South Park recitations can turn to TDS for updates on world issues Source:www.thedailyshow.com TDS Forum
“Intelligent, but not high-brow” • Criticizing domains of power not only of traditional politics but also news media “The thing that makes the Daily Show so good is that it makes fun of the domains of power (specifically the news media's power--Viacom owns CBS, Disney owns ABC, Ge owns NBC, CNN is owned by AOL Time Warner, Rupert Murdoch owns FOX )and the satire on the show works. It is FUNNY!” Source: TDS Forum Entertainment + Knowledge ...
Talking seriously about American Public Sphere ... while laughingJon Stewart talks with Katrina Vanden (The Nation)
From news satire to media empowerment and even social activism (in times of war) • The case of the anti-war vs anti-anti-war “And thought it would be funny to make fun of the anti-war movement. He actually said, "Maybe the hawks have a better argument." Jon You lost it. I'll quit watching now.” I don't think that Jon is "anti-anti-war," as stated in an earlier post. Rather, I think he was calling into light the pathetic routines of peace activists ... If they want to see peace activists projecting their intelligence they could have easily shown a clip of Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Michael Parenti, Ehrenreich, Molly Ivins, Jim Hightower, i could go on, but you get the point. I'm ashamed to admit that I don't know who any of those people are. I've been trying to get involved in the movement, but there isn't much happening in Delaware, or if there is, I'm looking in the wrong places. I'm going to try to learn more about the activists you mentioned. Recommend any websites for me to check out?
Cultural critique through “Gay Alert” (while making fun of American fear)
TDS’s political stances and democratic tools for a mediated society ... • Enacting an ever-vigilant liberalism • Criticizing power whatever its source and addressing this sort of hypnotic state of unawareness” (Stewart, 2003) • “Our Show is about not knowing what the truth is” (Stewart) • Avoiding specific ideologies -skeptical laughter • Beyond the right and left (see “join the middle” discussion)
Fostering Political Edutainment in an age of indifference • Looking at the effects of this ironic mirror of American society • Political Socialization?: What does it mean to “become informed”? - orthodox view (find Brazil in a map) - comprehensive view (make sense of world) recall of decontextualized info =/ understanding • Satirical viewership: is not enacted by a Habermasian scrutiny of the public sphere but by a Fiskean pedagogy of pleasure.
Final Remarks • TDS enhances our sense of the “we” by a pleasurable experience and pedagogy • Dialogical nature of satire • Fostering new ways of seeing and talking by oposing irony vs. truth • Boundaries between news and entertainment has begun to blur in the context of youth’s new information practices (videogames, www.onion.com, http://slashdot.org, etc.) • TDS challenges the way we may think news media have to fulfill their historic function.
Political Edutainment on American Television The case of The Daily Show
“Conservative is a bad word. Not because of what conservative means, but what it has come to stand for: republicans, the right, war, big business, big oil . . . yes I'm liberal, far from moderate.” “We happen to live in a democracy which for the most part has nothing to do with productivity” “The state of our country at the moment calls for discussion, debate and a sense of history. Not moronic, bratty, name calling” “Liberal has become such a dirty word (not for me!)” I too find myself somewhere in the middle on most issues, but I daresay a much more concerted effort has been made by the Radical Right to demonize the word "liberal". “The liberals are all on Saddam's payroll.”
More Answers ... • “I started to watch it in 1997 (when Craig Kilborn hosted) just because it was a funny show. And the correspondents. The correspondents make the show for me.” • “When the show first started in the summer of 1996, I think their target audience was high schoolers and college students. But after September 11th, I think older people who actually watch the "real news" started to watch the daily show also.” • “Back in 2000 (when I first got on the internet) I checked the site out every day, now its just a couple of times a week. Since I record every episode, I don't go there to watch video clips.” Source: email contact
Industry Evolution • In the 1950s, the federal government arranged matters so that nearly every American had three choices of what to watch on TV: CBS, NBC and ABC (till late 70s and early ’80) (These 3 networks still capture nearly half of national prime-time audience, as we see in Nielsen Ratings) • Today’s American state-of-the-art: • 12.4 over-the-air local television broadcasts • 4.5 national broadcast networks • Local cable system with an average of 52 channels • 4 competing satellite broadcasters with up to 200 channels. source: Owen (1999) • From Consensus to Fragmentation .... ? • From Conglomeration to Dispersation ...? • Network (mainstream?) vs. Cable (experimentation, critical?)
The Experience of Watching TV What about American daily life on TV? • Television viewing is an activity of all social classes (habitus) and income levels, especially among the elderly, the young and the less educated. • Broadcast and Cable TV viewing: 20.4 hrs. per week (1984). Since 1985, it has declined slightly, first, because of video rentals, second, because of Internet use. • TV watching consumes nearly 35% of leisure time in changing media environment ... Source:National Opinion Research Center
Media Use in the U.S. (Internet users vs. Non users) The UCLA Internet Report 2001: “Surveying the Digital Future”, UCLA Center for Communication Policy Chart
How many hours of your leisure time do you spend … Internet User Internet User Internet User Internet User Internet Non Internet Non Internet Non Internet Non - - - - user user user user 20 20 20 20 18 18 18 18 16.8 16.8 16.8 16.8 16 16 16 16 14 14 14 14 12.3 12.3 12.3 12.3 12 12 12 12 Hours Per Week Hours Per Week Hours Per Week 11.0 11.0 11.0 11.0 Hours Per Week 10 10 10 10 9.0 9.0 9.0 9.0 7.6 7.6 7.6 7.6 8 8 8 8 7.2 7.2 7.2 7.2 6.6 6.6 6.6 6.6 6.4 6.4 6.4 6.4 5.9 5.9 5.9 5.9 6 6 6 6 4.9 4.9 4.9 4.9 3.9 3.9 3.9 3.9 4 4 4 4 3.2 3.2 3.2 3.2 2.7 2.7 2.7 2.7 2.3 2.3 2.3 2.3 1.5 1.5 1.5 1.5 2 2 2 2 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.6 0 0 0 0 Reading Books Reading Books Reading Books Reading Books Playing Playing Playing Playing Listening to Listening to Listening to Listening to Reading Reading Reading Reading Reading Reading Reading Reading Listening to Listening to Listening to Listening to Talking on the Talking on the Talking on the Talking on the Watching Watching Watching Watching Video/Computer Video/Computer Video/Computer Video/Computer recorded music recorded music recorded music recorded music Newspapers Newspapers Newspapers Newspapers Magazines Magazines Magazines Magazines Radio Radio Radio Radio Telephone Telephone Telephone Telephone Television Television Television Television games games games games Offline Activities Offline Activities Offline Activities Offline Activities The UCLA Internet Report 2001: “Surveying the Digital Future”, UCLA Center for Communication Policy Chart
How has the use of the Internet changed the amount of time you spend watching TV ? The UCLA Internet Report 2001: “Surveying the Digital Future”, UCLA Center for Communication Policy Chart Y27