Jon Stewart: America’s News Anchor

While I was running this morning I was still thinking about what has happened in the past few years to the Akron Beacon Journal. You know. Sale to Black Press Ltd. Declining advertising and print circulation. Staff reductions. Defections of key reporters to The Plain Dealer. On and on. But it’s not just the Beacon Journal.

I’ve mentioned this previously. In my journalism classes at Kent State, at the beginning of every semester I would conduct a little in-class survey. How many read the printed edition of a newspaper regularly? A handful. How many get news and information from Google, Yahoo or similar sites? Maybe half the class. How many listen to radio news? Hehe. How many watch the network newscasts? A few. Local TV news? Yeah, maybe half the class of about 20 or so. How many watch The Daily Show with Jon Stewart? Almost all hands straight up.

I think The New York Times has it right — in an article printed last Sunday: “Is Jon Stewart the Most Trusted Man in America?”  Here’s from the article:

In 1999, the “Daily Show” correspondent Steve Carell struggled to talk his way off Senator John McCain’s overflow press bus — “a repository for outcasts, misfits and journalistic bottom-feeders” — and onto the actual Straight Talk Express, while at the 2000 Republican Convention Mr. Stewart self-deprecatingly promised exclusive coverage of “all the day’s events — at least the ones we’re allowed into.” In this year’s promotional spot for “The Daily Show’s” convention coverage, the news newbies have been transformed into a swaggering A Team — “the best campaign team in the universe ever,” working out of “ ‘The Daily Show’ news-scraper: 117 stories, 73 situation rooms, 26 news tickers,” and promising to bring “you all the news stories — first … before it’s even true.”

Though this spot is the program’s mocking sendup of itself and the news media’s mania for self-promotion, it inadvertently gets at one very real truth: the emergence of “The Daily Show” as a genuine cultural and political force. When Americans were asked in a 2007 poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press to name the journalist they most admired, Mr. Stewart, the fake news anchor, came in at No. 4, tied with the real news anchors Brian Williams and Tom Brokaw of NBC, Dan Rather of CBS and Anderson Cooper of CNN. And a study this year from the center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism concluded that “ ‘The Daily Show’ is clearly impacting American dialogue” and “getting people to think critically about the public square.”

Well, well. Jon Stewart: America’s news anchor. And why not? It’s a whole new news media world out there folks.

Key News Audiences Now Blend Online and Traditional Sources.” That’s the most recent report on the news media from the Pew Center for the People and the Press. If you have any interest in journalism or public relations — or even if you are wondering why your local newspaper isn’t what it used to be — take the time to read this report. Here are a few highlights:

Since the early 1990s, the proportion of Americans saying they read a newspaper on a typical day has declined by about 40%; the proportion that regularly watches nightly network news has fallen by half.

These trends have been more stable in recent years, but the percentage saying they read a newspaper yesterday has fallen from 40% to 34% in the last two years alone. Newspapers would have suffered even greater losses without their online versions. Most of the loss in readership since 2006 has come among those who read the print newspaper; just 27% say they read only the print version of a daily newspaper yesterday, down from 34% in 2006.

I don’t get to watch Jon Stewart much. The Daily Show is on way too late at night for me. And this week I missed the early-evening repeats because of the Olympics.

Did Obama announce his VP choice yet? Maybe someone will send me a tweet. Not sure if Barack has my e-mail address or not.


2 responses to “Jon Stewart: America’s News Anchor

  1. it’s just too bad. is news radio “hehe”-able these days? am i THAT much of a nerd? b/c i love jon stewart too, and i’d rather watch him than any other prime time news anchor. that is, if ira glass isn’t broadcasting from somewhere in the radio ethers 🙂

  2. Pingback: Fox News and objectivity: the joke’s on us « PR on the run

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