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Blogs- #11 & #12

The Colbert Report is a very popular show that takes actually news stories, and frames them so that they are appealing to the targeted audiences:  liberals and those looking for mere entertainment.  One of the major characteristics of what forms the show is Steven Colbert’s ability to incorporate humor and personal opinion into all his news pieces.  He has built a brand out of himself and his show leads people to either like him or despises him.

An event happening right now that has been getting a lot of news coverage is the Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, being indicted and standing trial on charges of teen prostitution.  Globally, the media has had a lot of coverage on this. The census of all the news media that covered this story was they did it objectively and stated solid facts about the case.

For example, The Huffington Post, dedicated an entire page to Silvio Berlusconi, stating that “Some news is so big, it needs its own page”.  On this page, there are several hyperlinks that have all The Huffington Post news stories that feature Berlusconi.

I decided to watch the episode of the Colbert Report in which he talks of this issue.  The episode aired 2/15/2011 and the segment which references what is happening with Berlusconi was called “Italian Bunga-Bunga Parties”.

The segment followed Colbert’s opening and was introduced by showing several of the protest that have been occurring around the Middle East.  As Colbert is stating the states in which protest are occurring, he does not give any wise-crack joke.  This is until he begins the lead into talking about Italy.  Colbert states “Protest even took place in the most backwards and corrupt country in the Middle East, Italy.” Now, we all know first off that Italy is in Southern Europe and not the Middle East, yet Colbert then goes on to back up his reasoning saying “They [women] are brutal and have mustaches.” This right here is a classic example of how Colbert alters the news by adding humor into it.  Women are protesting their Prime Minister because of his offensive behavior, and Colbert ends up insulting them as well.  Colbert then continues to make light of the subject by calling the legally under-age 17-year-old victim “al-dente”. If a credited news source were to makes the same kind of remarks, there would be an uprising and that paper would be heavily criticized.

I do not think that The Colbert Report should in any way shape be considered “journalistic”. Does Steven Colbert report news stories? Yes, he does.  However he lacks the journalistic principle of objectivity.  Objectivity states that journalist should be impartial and free of bias in their reporting. Colbert most certainly had biases in this story and they showed as he reported them.  Any other news station would now digitally animate a wig too look like it’s on Berlusconi, Colbert does it simply for that entertainment factor.

The news articles written for The Huffington Post are strictly objective.  They have been following the issue and report when necessary. The website has news stories and video footage of the protest that Italian women are holding right now. Colbert appears to simply mock what is happening with jokes and funny pictures.

The Colbert Report relates to the authoritarian theory as it does not broadcast or webcast any material that would undermine authority.  Does he criticize the government? All the time, however he does not try to weaken or damage the government.

The Colbert Report is a show owned by a network.  This network is not affiliated with the government and only needs to follow the FCC guidelines. This is an example of the Soviet theory. The social responsibility theory is another good example of Colbert’s show.  While his news may not get fully into detail as some others may have, it is still vital as a way of informing citizens of information via media outlets.

The theory that best sums of The Colbert Report is the libertarian theory.  The libertarian theory is rooted in the idea of the individual’s right to publish whatever he or she wants, even if it is critical or the government of its officials. This is a major act in Colbert’s show.  While he is reporting the news, he is free to report it any way he would like and if he disagrees or cares to share is opinion (bias) on the matter, then he has every right to.



Categories: Uncategorized
  1. February 23, 2011 at 2:33 am

    Good point about Colbert being about “building the brand.” I also like the fact that you pointed to specific details in what Colbert said and what the viewer saw. This bodes well for the level of detail you’ll be using in your paper on alternative vs. mainstream news.

    True, he isn’t “objective” – but then as the text explained, most journalists have backed away from that argument in general, favoring “fairness and balance” instead. Thus, instead of arguing that the HuffPo is “objective,” you might be better off arguing that it’s fair – because some definitely recognize the framing that HuffPo does and tag it as liberal.

    I don’t think a program like Colbert would be permitted to be broadcast in an authoritarian regime. Sadly, we’re seeing what happens when people even just question government in places throughout the middle East right now. Questioning is what weakens government’s authority. But we value the need to question authority here; it’s fundamental to who we think we are as a free people, of course.

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