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Blog 12 Colbert Report

Colbert Report Blog

                The Colbert Report is a very interesting and different form of journalism, one that could be classified as sensationalism.  Sensationalism is “news that exaggerates or features lurid details and depictions of events to reach a target audience”.  I recently watched the February 15th episode, and watched many interesting takes on various aspects of news.

                Colbert discusses the Middle Eastern conflicts in this episode, and takes a very light approach to them- one that could be considered offensive or thought-provoking.  The offensiveness is apparent by just watching the show, through jokes about Heidi Mubarak taking Egypt’s government head (it was a picture of Mubarak with blonde braids.  Thought-provoking things are also brought up in the show. For example, at one point, Colbert shows reports of Muslims “celebrating their democracy in the streets” and later shows the same clips, only saying that it is “Muslims rioting in the streets.”  It plays on a common American perception, because the words that correlate with the video often give the viewers opinions on what is actually occurring.  Also, Colbert plays with the American misperceptions of actual politics in the Middle East.  He shows clips over and over again with Americans talking about how the Muslim Brotherhood will inevitably take over and constantly questions whether or not the Middle East is ready for democracy.  Colbert then proceeded to do research proving that only 1% of the population even voted for the Muslim Brotherhood for a presidential election.  In addition, Colbert questions many people’s reasons that Egypt “isn’t ready for democracy” and asks if the Middle East has genetically different codes that make people believe that democracy is not a good choice.  It was a funny and interesting look on the perceptions many people have.  Fox News on the other hand, is one of the news sources that questions whether or not Egypt is ready for democracy.  In an episode of late, Fox had an author about Middle Eastern affairs come in and talk about the effect.  Rosenberg, the author, brings up the Muslim Brotherhood and their vow to dominate, but the lack of information that connects with Colbert makes me question who actually knows? Which of the two is known to be a more reliable news source? Obviously, Fox is more reliable because it is actually dedicated to news, whereas the Colbert Report is more about fun and jokes.  I feel that the Colbert report definitely is not a legitimate news source compared to others.

                Also,  Colbert relates to the four theories of international mass communication.  The authoritarian theory is the idea that the government censors everything in the media to promote the things they want the public to know.  The Colbert Report is essentially the exact opposite of that, because Colbert openly makes fun of the government (something the government probably doesn’t want out there).  Next, there is the libertarian theory.  This theory is otherwise known as the free press theory, and is the idea that an individual should be able to publish whatever they like.  Colbert definitely represents this theory through the constant insults to the governments around the world, who do not stop him. He chooses to publish whatever he feels like that day.  The social responsibility theory is another theory brought up by the textbook. This highlights the concept that the media has a definite role in informing citizens about the goings-on around the world and throughout the country. The Colbert Report does  provide citizens with information about the world, but one can seriously ask about its validity.  It is essentially a joke show, and the main point of a comedic show is not to make sure the listeners are aware of the news but to guarantee that they are laughing.  Lastly, there is the soviet theory, which is the concept that the media should serve the working class and be publically owned.  This was the idea around during the communist era, so it is all about sharing everything.  Obviously, the Colbert Report is privately owned, though it probably could be considered a working class show, because it is all for fun news, something I feel like the people higher up the line probably done care about.

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  1. February 23, 2011 at 2:26 am

    Some people do see Colbert in the tradition of sensational journalism, as he does seem to reach for the big drama to make a point. Another commonality is that sensational journalism is about selling or getting an audience, and certainly Colbert is primarily about drawing an audience by getting them to laugh.

    You’re right that it’s an example of libertarian and free press in that you wouldn’t see a program like this in an authoritarian regime. It’s interesting to see that you equate it with the interests of the working class. I think Colbert would see that, too (e.g. his testimony before Congress last fall on behalf of migrant workers’ rights). And you’re also right that the fact that it’s shown on Fox means it’s mostly about making money, not really serving the needs of any particular class interest – which is why it’s not Soviet (and that whole theory sounds so 1970s now I’m surprised the textbook even still mentions it, imho).
    Good job.

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