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Blog #12–Marisa Pooley

Both the Wall Street Journal and The Colbert Report reported on the story of Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi’s charges. Berlusconi has been indicted on charges of paying a seventeen-year-old girl to have sex with him. In his report, Stephen Colbert stated that the girl went to Berlusconi’s penthouse for a ‘Bunga Bunga Party.’ He used quotes and displayed a picture of a news article to add credibility to the Bunga Bunga account, however I think it is disputable whether this is in fact true. Needless to say, The Wall Street Journal article did not talk about “Bunga Bunga Parties.” Also, The Wall Street Journal did talk about Berlusconi’s attempt to cover-up the crime, but did not go in detail. The Colbert Report gave more information of the cover-up. It said that the seventeen-year-old girl stole some money, and Berlusconi proceeded to help hide that fact. He alleged that the girl is the granddaughter of Hosni Mubarak. Again, it is hard for me to believe this story entirely, probably due to Colbert’s satirical and humorous style of reporting news.

Stephen Colbert could be considered a yellow journalist because of his over-dramatization of stories. He also makes parts of the story up, such as saying that the girl in question could not be Mubarak’s granddaughter, because his granddaughter is named “Heidi Mubarak.” This statement was followed by a picture of Hosni Mubarak, wearing blond braids. Because The Colber Report is not a “real” news station, he does not seem to have to balance his stories. He can represent sides of the story unequally to give the story his own spin. He frames the story in a comedic way which invokes pessimism and disbelief in the audience.

The Colbert Report could be considered alternative journalism. This is different from conventional journalism because of the tone. While most other news vehicles take on a more neutral, serious lens, The Colbert Report uses satire and a mocking tone.

The Colbert Report relates to International Mass Communication theories in several ways. Stephen Colbert does not oppose the authoritarian theory because he does not challenge the U.S. government. However, it could be argued that he does oppose and undermine other nations’ governments. For example, in the most recent episode, he mocked the Italian government along with Berlusconi’s job as the Prime Minister. The libertarian theory, similar to freedom of speech, says that they can publish what they like. Stephen Colbert seems to say what he wants, but within reason. Again, he does not undermine or criticize the government to the point where he could get in trouble or taken off air. As far as the social responsibility theory, Colbert does a good job of adhering to the guidelines. He analyzes, explains, and interprets the news to his audience. He does include his biases and own framing of the story, but he still could be considered a reliable media source. The soviet theory says that media should be publicly owned and not controlled by the government. Government agencies still have the capability, though, to regulate and censor the material that is being published.


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