Published: Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 01:10
Some Texas A&M students are finding an alternative way to get their information on the presidential campaign outside of traditional news media outlets. Programs like “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” “The Colbert Report” and “Saturday Night Live” appeal to students who want to stay updated on the campaign news, but find traditional news uninteresting and uninformative.
The role of political entertainment television is a topic of interest for Dale Rice, the director of journalism studies at Texas A&M. Rice said that political entertainment shows help engage students into the political discussion and debate.
“We know that the audiences are particularly young and educated college students,” Rice said. “They tend to have a higher incidence of voting and participation in political organizations and attendance of political events.”
In 2004, the Pew Research Center did a study and found that during the presidential campaign, a quarter of the people who responded in the poll said that they got a portion of their news from Comedy Central or “Saturday Night Live.” Since that time studies have focused a lot more closely on the audiences of these types of shows.
“ I like how news can be entertaining,” said Ramy Moaness Saleh, graduate mechanical engineering major. “I like how the shows display politicians’ short memory and flip-flopping. The shows make more sense than mainstream media and partisan media most of the time.”
Some students admit that certain entertainment television shows have swayed their political views. Meg Stuart, senior anthropology major, said she watches “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” regularly.
“Before watching the show I could be considered a moderate individual,” Stuart said. “I am now quite liberal, in the sense that I believe in the grouped stereotypes that are generally associated with more liberal individuals.”
Rice said that even though these shows are not real news, it is good when students get their information from entertainment shows because anything that helps improve the level of political awareness and involvement is beneficial. But Rice emphasized that these shows are only mock news and their primary purpose is entertainment.
“They should augment the information they’re getting from “The Daily Show,” “The Colbert Report,” and “Saturday Night Live” with unbiased, reliable news sights that can give them the facts and the nuance of issues and policies that are also a part of the political debate,” Rice said.