The Colbert Report: Alternative Journalism at its Funniest
Chapter 10 of our text defines alternative journalism as journalism that “often purposefully defies the conventions of professional journalism.” The Colbert Report is a perfect example of modern alternative journalism in that it uses satire and humor as two of its major reporting methods. Steven Colbert plays a highly intolerant right wing conservative news anchor who gives his jaded opinion on significant news stories from around the world, mostly from the United States or US foreign relations, in a highly sensationalist manner. His opinions oftentimes stem from things that prominent republican pundits have said, and many of his “patriotic” or pro-US statements seek to cast many Americans as highly ignorant. I watched The Colbert Report on February 16, and in the episode the topic of whaling was brought up. Colbert gives his “wag of the finger” to the environmentalist group Sea Shepherds, who were the main reason for the recent cessation of Japanese whaling enterprises. Colbert asserts that whaling is as essential to the Japanese culture as “whatever this is,” this being a crazy Japanese TV show that is meant to look impossible to understand. Colbert effectively satirizes the viewpoint that he has just asserted, and this is one of his main tools of delivery. His show is fine alternative journalism because is presents its views and commentary in a unique and humorous manner, which make it well-received by the public. Additionally, as alternative journalism it does not have to conform to the established norms of conventional journalism, thus it has a greater area of control over the information it presents.
I looked at an article on the same story on nytimes.com, and found a fairly standard piece of conventional journalism, definitely leaning towards the environmentalists a little bit, but standard journalism nonetheless. I didn’t learn anything new from Colbert, and I definitely learned more from reading the nytimes.com article. Clearly, “standard” news is proving to be the better option for informative news, however Colbert certainnly as a place in media today.