Satirical news — love it or you hate it — is often overlooked but is quite important. Shows like “The Daily Show,” “Colbert Report,” “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” etc. have the ability to generate conversation among viewers regarding political issues that may otherwise go unnoticed.
These satirical news programs are not meant to be one’s daily source of news, but rather critique the news programs that you may be watching consistently. Oftentimes we take the news for what it is without questioning the news source. These humorous news programs, although ridiculous at times, make us all think critically about accepting the information reported by dominant news sources.
Most major news corporations are compelled to not only fill time but, more importantly, generate profit. This type of reporting often leads to delivering news in a manner that is more entertaining than informative.
On the other hand, the comedy and exaggeration can highlight the flaws of what is being reported on a daily basis and accentuate important political topics that are potentially being overlooked.
Some viewers may argue that political satire shows spur distrust, belittle important political issues and promote a narrow point of view (most often the view of the show’s writers). While this may be true, it is usually not the case. In fact, according to the article “Lighten Up” in the Columbia Journalism Review, viewers of satire news programs are more likely to watch and read traditional news sources as well.
I would also argue that satirical news segments are actually quite sophisticated. In order to understand many of the jokes and references, one must have a decent background regarding the topic of the segment.
“I’ve long thought of these programs as often proving keen commentary on the news itself. I think the way they deconstruct the news exposes some of the problems of our current political dialogue; they offer a type of media literacy. No, they are not news, I think of them as part of a proud tradition of political satire, which has an important role to play in politics, especially today,” said Professor Robin Anderson, a communications and media studies professor at Fordham University.
The “important role” of these satire news programs was also stressed by Katie Ehrlich, FCRH `16. “I think news humor programs have more value than solely humor,” she said. Even though the material is presented in a satirical manner, it makes viewers think twice about what material is being presented to us and encourages viewers to consider other points of view they may otherwise easily dismiss.”
In addition, what makes these humorous news programs effective is that the program can be more relatable to the viewer. The humorists, more times than not, are able to make a connection with the viewer.
News anchors, on the other hand, deliver the news in a more serious manner, which in turn makes the entire show more impersonal.
When viewers watch satirical news programs along with traditional news sources, they have the ability to create a greater number of informed citizens and encourage political involvement.
Overall, the satirical media is a great form of entertainment. While some people may find the shows offensive, I think it is important for the viewer to keep in mind while watching or reading any form of satirical news that it may very well highlight topics that may be sensitive to that comedian.
Although everyone should take the production with a grain of salt, satirical media has been, and will continue to be, popular among many citizens. With many serious and controversial events going on in the world, why heavily criticize programming that may potentially bring a few laughs to an overall depressed society?
Cody Sims, FCRH ’15, is a communication and media studies major from Oakland, California