The Daily Show and Young Americans

The Daily Show and Young Americans - The Daily Show and...

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The Daily Show and Young Americans The Daily Show is a late-night talk show hosted by Jon Stewart. The show airs on cable’s Comedy Central at 11:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday; reruns are shown at various other times throughout the day. The Daily Show is styled as a fake news program and regularly pokes fun at mainstream news makers, especially politicians. It has become increasingly popular, with ratings in 2004 up by 22% from 2003 (“Jon Stewart Roasts Real News,” 2004). The show won two Emmy Awards in 2004 (for outstanding variety, music, or comedy series and outstanding writing for a variety, music or comedy program). Reflecting this popularity, a wide array of political powerhouses as well as presidential hopefuls have appeared on the show as guests. On Sep- Baumgartner, Morris / The Daily Show Effect 343 tember 16, 2003, John Edwards announced his candidacy on Stewart’s show, making good on a promise that Stewart would be the first person he told about his presidential intentions. Other presidential hopefuls (Bob Kerrey, Dick Gephardt, Dennis Kucinich, and Joseph Lieberman) appeared in 2003; Howard Dean and Carol Moseley Braun appeared in January 2004; and Democratic candidate John Kerry appeared on August 24, 2004. As a result of the program’s prominence, The Daily Show has been attracting an increasing amount of attention from journalists and scholars.1 There are several characteristics about the audience of The Daily Show worth noting. First, they are young. Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 years watch the program more than any other age group. Data from the Pew Research Center (2004b) show that almost half of those surveyed in this age group (47.7%) watch The Daily Show at least occasionally. The percentage declines precipitously as age increases.2 Second, these same youth are relying less on mainstream political news sources such as network news, newspapers, and newsmagazines (Davis & Owen, 1998; Pew Research Center, 2004b). From 1994 to 2004, the 18- to 24-year-old age group spent 16 fewer minutes on average following news on a daily basis (35 as opposed to 51 minutes). A full 25% reported that they pay no attention at all to hard news. Significantly, only 23% of regular Daily Show viewers report that they followed “hard news” closely. Finally, although The Daily Show is not intended to be a legitimate news source, over half (54%) of young adults in this age group reported that they got at least some news about the 2004 presidential campaign from comedy programs such as The Daily Show and Saturday Night Live . Only 15% of Americans over the age of 45 years reported learning something about the campaign from the same sources (Pew Research Center, 2004a). The picture that emerges from these data is one in which youth are increasingly
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This note was uploaded on 04/08/2008 for the course JRN 101 taught by Professor Kirtz during the Fall '06 term at Northeastern.

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The Daily Show and Young Americans - The Daily Show and...

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