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nasimson
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In bigger perspective
nasimson   5/20/2012 11:59:08 PM
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I think we have come to a sorry state of affairs where most serious of the news is ridiculed & made fun of. People then tend to take serious issues lightly. And this is not good for the future of society. Some of these issues that we enjoy today will haunt our future generations.

Mitch Wagner
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John Barnes - Encouraging everyone to stay home on the couch, being above it all and feeling smugly superior, is not.

That's the danger. Both The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are very serious programs, in the manner you describe. And studies show people who rely on them for news are actually better-informed than people who rely on some other, more mainstream channels. 

However, the problem with those shows is that they reduce the universe into people being ridiculed, and people doing the ridiculing. Everything that doesn't fit into one of those two categories is invisible, it doesn't exist. 

As I'm sure you're already aware, writers love to be on the Colbert Report. He's like Oprah in his ability to make sales for books. And writers get coached on how to be on his show. Basically, a writer will be on for three minutes (or about that), will be able to spend about 30 seconds to a minute talking seriously about his book, and then for the rest of the time the writer is going to just sit there and be a target for Colbert's ridicule. The best course for the writer is to just smile and nod during that part, occasionally throwing out comments which Colbert will pounce on.

None of this is the fault of either Colbert or Stewart, who are doing great work. It's other forms of journalism that are lacking. 

John Barnes
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Ridicule can be a perfectly serious activity.  We Americans have had some presidents who have been little better than drooling cretins, for example, and forcing people to acknowledge it via laughter is about as serious a function as you can have.  Aristophanes was primarily a political commentator -- the main voice of the conservative democrats (as opposed to the pro-aristocratic pro-Sparta conservatives and the radical demagogues) of ancient Athens, and funny as his stuff was, its purpose is clear in every line -- he was to bring down the people he thought were menaces to his country.  Bastiat even managed to be, of all things, an economic humorist (while also being the most effective free-marketer of his day in French politics). 

It's not the laughter but the absence of seriousness that is the problem.  Discrediting and humiliating people in power, or people trying to attain power, is a serious purpose. Encouraging everyone to stay home on the couch, being above it all and feeling smugly superior, is not.

Mitch Wagner
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Shows like The Daily Show and Colbert Report are terrific, but they also contribute to an environment where everything is and should be held up to ridicule. 

John Barnes
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The problem is that everything matters  and nobody's serious.  This is not a sustainable way to deal with news and policy.

nasimson
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Re: Another note for the future
nasimson   3/20/2012 2:43:50 PM
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@John, I agree with you. With the rapid advent of media during recent times, the distinction has surely blurred. It's quite evident from the way news are presented over here now and talk shows conducted. Every media person has or pretends to have become investigative, and yet every media person tries to add entertainment value to retain and increase viewership.

Mitch Wagner
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Reporters becoming more like entertainers? Oh, yes. A prime example would be all the celebrity gossip and reality-show updates that pass for news nowadays. 

As for entertainers becoming more like journalists, the prime examples there are Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Rush Limbaugh.

John Barnes
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Oh, it's always been blurring -- and sharpening.  That's what a contested distinction is.  The distinction between people who are supposed to preserve the distinction (e.g. reporters), and people who are supposed to blur it (e.g. entertainers) is what's blurring.

Mitch Wagner
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John - The distinction between fact and fiction is blurring?

nasimson
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Re: Damage done
nasimson   3/19/2012 2:02:31 PM
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@Waqas, You're right! Social media can be very well used to further various causes and responsible journalism through the use of social media can help bring usch issues to light and raise awareness for a solution. Though we are far from it right now, but eventually such movements can take root as the reach and impact of online media is unlimiting.

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