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Effects of Political Humor

Effects of Political Humor. Laughing Matters , Ch. 8 Jody C. Baumgartner. American Youth & Online Humor. Main Argument. Youth voters important to study Low voting rates Get news from non-traditional places like comedy Comedy is memorable, persuasive, and can influence political attitudes

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Effects of Political Humor

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  1. Effects of Political Humor

  2. Laughing Matters, Ch. 8 Jody C. Baumgartner American Youth & Online Humor

  3. Main Argument • Youth voters important to study • Low voting rates • Get news from non-traditional places like comedy • Comedy is memorable, persuasive, and can influence political attitudes • Youth are susceptible to persuasion • Political humor online is commonplace • Experiment of young voters viewing online political humor

  4. JibJab.com • 2 brothers, Flash animation, and political satire • 2004 Presidential Election • 80 million views before Election Day • Viewed on every continent and international space station • Experiment Using President Bush’s 2nd Term • Control Group (didn’t view clip) vs. Experimental Group (viewed clip) • Both Groups Answer Questionnaire About: • Political Efficacy • Media Bias • Evaluation of President Bush

  5. Political Efficacy Results External (Institutional) Measure “I don’t think public officials care much what people like me think.” “Democrats and Republicans can put differences aside.” Result Viewing clip led to lower external efficacy Internal (Self) Measure • “People like me don’t have a say in what the government does.” • “Sometimes politics and government seem so complicated that a person like me can’t understand what’s going on.” Result • Viewing clip led to slightly higher internal efficacy

  6. Media Bias & Bush Evaluation Results Bush Evaluation Measure “Bush is leader, competent, honest, and trustworthy.” Result Viewing clip led to more positive attitudes of Bush. Media Bias Measure • “The performance of the news media is biased.” Result • Viewing clip led to more negative attitudes of media.

  7. Experiment Conclusion Viewing JibJab humor led to: Believing you can influence politics and understand what’s going on Believing politicians and government don’t do anything Believing the news media is bias Believing President Bush is a good leader

  8. In-Class Assignment #14 Let’s watch another JibJab clip: President Obama In groups, discuss the political messages, symbols, and themes presentin the clip. Write your thoughts on a group paper. In case you want to watch later…Other JibJab Political Humor What We Call The News 2008 Presidential Election

  9. Laughing Matters, Ch. 16 B. Rottinghaus, K. Bird, T. Ridout, & R. Self “It’s Better Than Being Informed”: College-aged Viewers of The Daily Show

  10. Main Argument • Infotainment popular campaign stop • American Youth • Embrace infotainment, TV, and Internet • Rank Stewart as more credible than network anchors • Learn more from infotainment than older adults • So does infotainment increase political knowledge? • Mixed findings from survey-based research • For example: • [+] = Infotainment increased knowledge of 2000 presidential primary candidates • [-] = Infotainment only increased knowledge of political scandal and not issues

  11. Main Argument • Use focus groups instead of surveys • Central questions • Why do students watch TDS? What advantages does TDS have over news? • What effect does this have on their perceptions of media and politics?

  12. Results: Laughing While Learning Why watch TDS? • Funny (duh) • Targets all political sides • Provides in-depth coverage of issues across time • Keeps your attention better than news • TDS makes news relevant • Escape from reality • News is sad and negative, TDS is comic relief for this

  13. Results: Laughing While Learning What Effect Does This Have On Youth? • Learn about the contradictions, exaggerations, and spin of news and politicians • Leads to a more critical eye for news and politics • Recall information better • Easier to understand than news • Gateway to other news • Forces me to watch news if I want to get the joke

  14. Pitfalls of TDS Humor is too distracting to learn Humor makes show less credible Any others?

  15. In-Class Assignment #15 President Obama on TDS Part 1 = Economy, Part 2 = Health Care, Part 3 = Corruption • Why did Obama make an appearance on TDS? • What messages did Obama want to communicate? • Who was Obama’s target audience? • What are your opinions of Jon Stewart’s interview? • Was the interview too easy? Hard? Silly? Serious? • How do you think Obama’s appearance influenced young voters?

  16. Laughing Matters, Ch. 17 Patricia Moy Effects of Late-Night Comedy & Talk Shows

  17. Evolution of Infotainment Campaigning 1992 Bill Clinton on Arsenio Hall Show and MTV (briefs) 1996 First Web campaigning 2000 Bush & Gore on Oprah, SNL, Letterman, Leno Web campaigning expanded 2004 Kerry on The Daily Show

  18. Main Argument • Need to go beyond studying attention, interest, and media use • Need to study the backbone of participatory democracy • Knowledge (perceived and actual) • Participation (voting and civic engagement) • Use national survey data from 2000 & 2004

  19. Results: Perceived Learning • Where do you learn about presidential campaigns from? • Ranking of learn the most to learn the least. • Local TV news • Network TV news • Newspapers • Internet • Late-Night TV • Comedy shows • MTV

  20. Results: Actual Political Knowledge • Who knows the most? • Males, older adults, those with higher levels of education and income, and whites • Where do people actually learn? • Newspapers • Network TV news • Internet • Comedy shows • Where do people fail to learn? • Local TV news • Late-Night TV

  21. Results: Voting and Civic Engagement Who votes and engages more often? • Older adults, more educated people, higher income people, people with more actual political knowledge • People who read newspapers • People who watch network TV news • People who use the Internet • People who watch comedy shows Who votes and engages less often? • People who watch local TV news

  22. Conclusions • Perception is just that—perception. • Local TV news contradiction • People say they learn, but they don’t and are less likely to vote/participate • Newspapers still best source to learn and participate • Internet and comedy shows growing in importance for learning and participating

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