Regular Life

Regular Life

In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on. – Robert Frost

Is Jon Stewart Your News Anchor?

I have heard it said that one should avoid relying on a single source for news.

You mean, like, even if that source is Jon Stewart? No. Way.

As a matter of fact, way.

In 2004 The Associated Press reported that, “21 percent of people aged 18 to 29 cited ‘The Daily Show’ and ‘Saturday Night Live’ as a place where they regularly learned presidential campaign news,” according to the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.

Late one night in 2004 I just happened to be watching Stewart’s show when he mentioned this Pew study. After informing his viewing audience of their tendency to rely on his show for all their news, he stared wide-eyed for a close-up and said, “Don’t do that!”

I’m sure that deep down Stewart was lapping it up, and I suspect that the percentage would be higher if Pew conducted the same study now.

For years we subscribed to the daily paper and watched television news. We broke the TV habit about eight years ago, and I ditched the morning paper for National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition.” For years I read U.S. News & World Report (USNWR) for balance, but having a child stopped that.

Like the newspaper and USNWR, NPR spends more time on each story than the TV news does, and I don’t have to put up with commercials. Plus, it’s not as politically slanted as other media (but leans a little left). Somewhat ironically, I first heard NPR on a newspaper’s darkroom radio while working as a (paid) photojournalism intern, and it planted the seed that ultimately spurred me to cancel my subscription.

Well, that and the fact that I could get Dilbert for free online.

Believe it or not, that brings me to another of my news sources — Scott Adams’ blog. He’s the creator of Dilbert, and he posts serious articles as often as he does jokes. He works humor into all of it, but he also gets me thinking. That’s art.

Which is what we all look for in a news outlet, right? Okay, maybe not, but his topics and the discussions that result from his arguably above-average intelligence readers are much more practical than the (hilarious) bits on “The Daily Show.” Although he covers topics from religion to evolution to offbeat news of the weird, politics are Adams’ main focus lately, and he makes a lot of sense. See his site to see what he’s up to right now.

What about CNN or Fox News for political coverage, you may ask? Yikes. Surely those aren’t the best news sources on television today. Some, including his peers, say that the recently deceased Tim Russert ran one of the best shows out there, backing down to nobody regardless of party affiliation. I never watched him, so I can’t comment with any credibility. I do know, however, that never again will I watch Anderson Cooper after his botching of the Sago Mine Disaster, which I first wrote about back when it happened.

I don’t want to turn this into a political blog, but it’s hard to resist the topic completely during an election year.

My main point here is that, like Adams said on his blog, most people don’t know very much about world news or what makes a good presidential candidate. To know as much as we can, however, at the very least we should reach for a variety of sources in the process of becoming completely confused.

For example, from what I’ve read and heard, I figured that most countries’ opinion of the United States has plummeted in the past couple of years. Just a quick glance at Pew’s site reveals that from 2007 to 2008, in most countries polled favorable views of the United States went up. In South Korea the jump was 12 points and in Tanzania a whopping 19. Surprisingly, Japan showed the biggest drop — 11 points, while also showing more respondents somewhat or very interested in the US presidential race than those of us who live here.

What’s the Japanese word for “Daily Show?”

What is your news source?

11 Responses to Is Jon Stewart Your News Anchor?

  1. I have found recently that talking to people about news, is akin to talking about religion or politics. People are fiercely for this person or against that one.. it’s turning into a thing to be avoided (at least by me) because of the conflict it can cause.

    An example. Someone I know LOVES Rush Limbaugh and thinks his word is the gospel truth.
    My God, I’ve never seen a more pompous windbag that knows nothing of the real world as him. See what I mean?

  2. Hurray for NPR and Jon Stewart!! It’s a greta combination. NPR tells it (mostly) like it is, and The Daily Show lampoons it like it is. I don’t want to only get my news from Stewart, but better that than Fox News, says I.

    As for Russert, he really was good. I rarely watched it lately since IF the TV is on that time Sunday…it’s usually set to cartoons. I would only occasionally profess my fill with the animated hijinx and request Meet the Press. Both the ladies of the house would promptly find other ways to amuse themselves.

  3. News? What is this news you speak of??

    I get pretty much ALL of mine online. A couple of newspaper dailies emailed to my inbox, of which I pretty much just scan the headlines unless an article seems like it’d be pretty interesting or note-worthy.

    As for American news, I don’t think I’d watch anything BUT the Daily Show for accurate updates. Fox has a horrible reputation for disgustingly right-wing fear-mongering and outright lies. (That’s only hearsay for me, since I don’t watch it.) And I can’t speak to any other networks or smaller news providers.

    I think there’s a danger of getting too caught up in the news (media), and the level of reliability and bi-partisan balance is dodgy at best. One of the few areas where my optimism fades and I become a real skeptic.

  4. Dave – I know what you mean. Some folks, if you tell them where you get your news you watch, will label you. Sometimes with folks like Limbaugh it is fairly obvious which way his fans lean. Others, too, I’m sure, on the liberal side, but I can’t think of any because I don’t watch any of them.

    Moksha – I pretty much echo what you said, except the only thing I got to see Russert do was moderate debates.

    Simon – I, too, get a lot of mine online. Fox is on the TV’s up at work (lunchroom areas) and nobody’s supposed to turn the channel. I can’t judge a news station by the dumb shows that are on in the middle of the day, but it seemed pretty awful.

    It is hard to know what to believe, because national and world affairs are so far removed from everyday life. We have to depend on somebody (or several, preferably) to fill us in. Bummer.

  5. I will plead the fifth since everyone is bashing my news channel.


    I do read a lot of news online as well. And by the way, I totally love Jon Stewart…he is a riot no matter party he is mocking.

  6. Did I just give away the fact that I watch FOX News? Darn it. ;)

  7. Anna – Hey, we’re all open-minded here (I think). Opinions work with news channels just like they do with everything else — it isn’t wrong just because it isn’t what you believe. There might be other reasons, but difference alone is not enough.

    Don’t worry; we’re all still feelin’ the love.

  8. I feel it Mark, I do. ;)

  9. I wrote a big old long political post, but then I deleted it. I just don’t care enough. Not a single candidate is being open regarding their plans or ideas regarding the two most pressing issues.

    1. Healthcare costs. The last 6 months of life are where 75% of the US Healthcare dollars are spent. The Baby Boomers are getting there quickly, and the strain is going to be HUGE.

    2. Value of the US Dollar. This is the real story of the Middle East. When the dollar reaches point where it is devalued to a level that the Middle East countries see selling to other currencies as more profitable, and don’t value our buying power, we’re in BIG TROUBLE. Money is power, and as China and Japan continue to use natural resources, the dollar will continue to suffer. That will be especially true if the next President doesn’t at least value our presence in the Middle East in order to prevent any sort of “banding together” to limit their need for our buying power. Supply and demand is hitting us now…and we will have to do more research into alternative fuels, or alter our model of work/life transportation methods.

    At any rate…times are changing, and moreso than most of us realize, or want to realize. :-)

  10. Charles – That all makes sense to me. Couldn’t agree more.

    So many in our generation are going to be paying hundreds of dollars per month to credit card companies (or more) even into their old age that they will be rudely awakened when the paycheck stops coming. Not to mention social security concerns.

  11. I remember that study where “The Daily Show” and “SNL” were named the sources that many young people get their news. That’s scary.

    Since I moved last fall, I dumped cable. I did not bother to get a dish. I am not watching CNN, Fox News, or any of the cable stuff. The only time that I could would be at the in-laws. Usually, they have the TV on a baseball game or other stuff. One time they had it on Fox News to see the election returns.

    During the school year, I rarely sat to watch the national evening news because I was either on my way to work or on my way home –in both cases nowhere near a TV. Even though I had a portable battery TV I could have used, I was too busy concentrating on the road going home or busy getting ready for class if I had a night class.


Comments are closed.