For our final project, we are working with the Mark Levin radio show as the alternative new source. Levin’s program is heavily aimed at the right side of the news spectrum, with a website splashed in red, white and blue and pictures of soaring eagles. Many of the current headlines are strong criticisms about Obama’s new budget proposal, and most other headlines seem to stay at home in the United States. Because this program is so conservative, we will most likely pin it against a more liberal mainstream news site, such as CNN radio. Both of these sites will be good tools for research.
For my final paper, I am going to be working with Phil Hedrick on “The Real News Network”. This is going to be really interesting because when we chose the topic, neither of us had any idea of what The Real News Network was or what they covered. For our media research, we are planning on accessing various sources; the first being TRNN official site. Here, we will be able to get a good idea of what the site is like, the layout, the kind of news they cover, and how it is presented. We watched a couple videos on my laptop, but other than that we still have a lot of research to do. Next, we are going to look at alternative sources such as blogs and websites that talk about the network, and hopefully we can find some interviews of some of the employees. One thing that we found out early on when we were looking at the site was that it does not condone any type of advertising, so the money that they receive in order to keep the show going comes primarily from interest and popularity of the site, as well as the donations from the people that enjoy the site and would like to see it succeed. If The Real News Network reaches enough followers, they will be able to air on television. I don’t have the statistics yet, but I’m sure it’s going to be a difficult number to attain because of how competitive news networks are with trying to get air time when the big boys like CNN and Fox News dominate that area. I’m excited to learn more about this website with Phil and to hopefully bring up some interesting ideas for the website to become more successful.
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.
The Colbert Report that aired on February 15, 2011 focused on three main topics in todays news: Democracy in the Middle East, Arizona State Senate Ron Gould and his new gun laws, and David Albright’s cyber warfare. I have researched these topics and have found articles about these topics. The comparison to the Colbert Report and the news release, are very different. Colbert frames his topics by using sarcasm, and comedy to portray the messages in an entertaining comedic manner. While describing the chaos in the Middle East with the rise of democracy, Colbert makes a joke about Italy being corrupt and backwards country. This statement directly relates to the sexual assult charges on Silvio Berlusconi. Women in Italy are furious at the fact that Berlusconi paid a 17 year old girl for sex at one of his “bunga bunga parties.” Colbert plays on the idea of a “bunga bunga” party and expresses his own opinion of what he thinks a bunga bunga party is. What he fails to tell his audience though, is that Italy’s Prime Minister Berlusconi has bigger issues on his plate. He has been fighting the courts over financial dealings for years. Colbert then blames Egypt for Berlusconi’s acts. As many headlines read today, the Muslim Brotherhood is trying to rise in Egypt. This is where Colbert breaches his duty of objectivity. Journalists are supposed to be impartial and free of bias in their reporting, but Colbert makes it clear that he doesn’t believe that Muslims are ready for democracy. He says “its just not in their DNA.” He then however, uses fairness to cover all relevant sides of the issue, by allowing a spokeswoman from ABC represent those various sides a chance to be covered in the same way. The guest speaker disagreed with Colbert, and stuck to the facts of the story, while Colbert used comedy to counteract her arguments. The last two segments, were new news to me. I was unaware of Airazona State Senate Ron Gould’s new laws on guns. I am not a person who believes in guns, and find it very disturbing that he is implementing things this way. The thought of people being able to walk into government buildings with guns seams quite ludicrous. Colbert brought light to how ridiculous Gould’s gun policy is, providing viewers with the things Gould is legalizing. Gould would allow guns to be brought into any government building or space, and his new law would protect people who “forget” they have a gun from telling cops they don’t have a gun, even if they really do. Lastly it is not a crime to shoot a gun, as long as the person who shoots it doesn’t realize that the gun could harm someone. I looked up these laws on the AZ state website, and although the words are different, Colbert isn’t making this crazy story up. He wraps up his broadcast with special guest David Albright and talks with him about the stuxnet that is injected into nuclear weapons facilities to slow down the process of building the weapons. Once again Colbert uses fairness to allow David to express one side of the story, while Colber plays devils advocate on the side.
This article relates to the four theories of international communication in many ways. The four theories are as follows; The authoritarian theory , the libertarian theory, the social responsibility theory, and the soviet theory. The authoritarian theory states that government exert direct control over the media. The FCC regulates what Colbert is and isn’t able to say on TV. The Libertarian Theory is the best representation of the Colbert Report, for this theory allows individuals the right to publish whatever he or she wants event material that is critical of the government or of the government officials. Colbert takes full advantage of this by using comedy to report on the news in a way in which he, and comedy central, find to be comedic and interesting. The social responsibility theory states that media is vital to informing citizens as such should be free from most governmental constraints in order to provide the best most reliable and impartial information to the public. Colber provides news to consumers in a comedic way in order to draw attention to the content. Lastly, the Soviet theory states that media should be publicly owned and used to further the needs of the working class. This one is kind of a stretch, but one might argue that this show provides jobs to the working class. Comedy central needs people to write, edit, film, exc. in order for the show to air. This show provides jobs for people, and thus betters the working class.
The State of the Union address is always analyzed and picked apart by the media after it takes place. This year there was a lot of criticism as well as some praise of President Obama’s speech. The Colbert Report gave its view on the speech the next day. Stephen Colbert approached the subject in a positive light, saying that he had been won over by the speech and that the President “seemed very presidential.” Of course, as always, Colbert seemed sincere but had a tone of irony. He showed clips from the speech that were cut in amusing ways, such as the president talking about how great China is and how they’re ahead of us, but taking it out of context. He showed a quick montage of every time the President used his catchphrase, “winning the future,” in the speech. While this was done for humor, it did point out how many times Obama used these words in his speech without really giving specifics. Colbert went on to assess Obama’s call for entrepreneurship and inventiveness, which Colbert seemed to have taken very seriously and had already tried to become an inventor himself; he showed us his toaster on wheels and fork phone. While this again was obviously satire, it did make the audience think about what the President said in his speech, and his somewhat vague call for American inventiveness. Colbert concluded by saying that he was convinced by the speech but he wants to know how others responded. He proceeded to interview Clinton’s former speech-writer, Michael Waldman, on the subject. Waldman said that the President did a good job conveying optimism and drawing a line with republicans, but it didn’t rank with the best political speeches. Colbert questioned him about what goes into writing a State of the Union address, and Waldman said that it’s a long process, involving many people, in which every little word chosen can make a difference in future policy and budget. I thought this background information was interesting, and maybe not something you would see on another news program. Finally, the two talked about some of the things Obama didn’t mention in his speech, such as the still high rate of unemployment, or climate change.
Fox News did a piece on the speech right after Obama had finished it; they had a panel of analysts and reporters giving their views on his performance. One columnist said that the speech was weak and didn’t address the big issues, and New York Post correspondent said the speech was flat and lacking specifics. A representative of Fox News liked the speech, and especially Obama’s statement “We do big things.” He said he thought Obama spoke to the moment, giving hope to the unemployed and disheartened Americans. A last political analyst was very critical of the speech, and said Obama simply outlined a lot of projects that will take money, without addressing the deficit. This report by Fox News gave several perspectives, but was still an opinion piece rather than an objective news story. In covering an important speech such as this, it seems that the public look to the media for guidance and interpretation on what they should think about the speech. Here the media’s role is not so much that of objective reporting, but that of putting the event in context and helping the public decide what it means and what they should think about it.
Colbert plays the role of giving context to the speech as well, although he does this through humor. By replaying certain clips and giving over-the-top reactions he makes the audience think about things they may not have when they were simply watching the president’s speech. The Colbert Report is an entertainment program rather than a news program, but the line between news and entertainment is often crossed these days. News shows certainly draw in viewers by offering exciting opinions and debates, and they work to frame their stories in ways that will appeal most to viewers. In this sense I don’t think The Colbert Report is any less valid because it presents its information in biased ways; it just chooses humor as its framework. If anything, I think the Colbert Report makes a comment on the dramatization of news often seen on news channels, the highlighting of certain events and the push towards “entertaining” news to keep viewers interested.
In regard to the theories of international communication, Colbert’s show is no different from other American press in operating under the social responsibility theory. Of course, as a network television show the Colbert Report has to operate under certain guidelines and Colbert definitely does not have the freedom to say whatever he likes, as he would if operating under the libertarian theory. However he does have the freedom to criticize and make fun of whoever he likes, including and especially the government. This role is essential in American media, and is what makes us so different from countries like China that operate under the authoritarian theory. Being able to make fun of and laugh at our government is an important gift that comedians like Colbert give us. It is a form of free speech that does not really hold malice towards the government, but reminds viewers that we are free to question our government, and gives us a different take on current situations.
The story that I viewed on The Colbert Report was titled, “Mr. Smith Goes to the State Legislature, Then Later Possibly Washington – Ron Gould”. In this clip Colbert discusses someone who could potentially be a Presidential candidate. Ron Gould is a state senator in Arizona. He has proposed new legislation in regards to firearm control. This installment of The Colbert Report falls right between the distinctions of yellow journalism and sensational journalism. This is because Colbert highlights all of the aspects of the legislation that are clearly not safe, and for the most part the parts cited by Colbert are illogical in relation to firearm control. I would say that Colbert leans more towards sensational journalism rather than yellow journalism because even though he is eliciting a response based on the dramatic presentation of the legislation, he is not completely fabricating the story. I would say that Colbert did not approach this from an objective viewpoint in that he was clearly mocking the legislation, and did not believe that Gould could be a good presidential candidate. The bias was quite clear in the video clip.
The news article that I found that went along with the legislation critiqued by Colbert is on Arizona’s CBS news page, channel 5. The story is titled, “State Senator Wants To Loosen Gun Laws”. This article frames the story really well. The Tuscon shootings are still fresh in many minds, and the journalist takes advantage of that and reminds everyone of the recent event. Framing the story in that way does not skew the objectivity of the story though. The facts were stated, and there was no clear bias one way or the other.
This story qualifies as news because it is relevant to the citizens of Arizona, and especially those who were impacted by the shootings. Also, the story has potential to develop into something larger, maybe even the presidential race.
The Colbert Report that critiques the legislation definitely brought forth aspects of the legislation that were not discussed in the article from the CBS story. After viewing the clip, I would not be as likely to support the legislation. That also may be because nothing positive was mentioned in the clip.
I would say that The Colbert Report embodies the principles outlined in the libertarian theory, the social responsibility theory, and the Soviet theory. The authoritarian theory does not really apply to the show in that the government does not directly rule over what is aired. Colbert clearly exercises the rights that fall under the libertarian theory. This is because he says whatever he wants even if it does cast a negative light on the government and its actions. Also, Colbert does his best to inform the citizens. However, it does not exactly fall under the social responsibility theory because his viewpoint is not impartial. The Soviet theory holds true as well in regards to The Colbert Report because the government does not own the show, and it is made available to all, including the working class.
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.