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.
I decided to watch the Colbert Report that aired on February 14. At the beginning of the episode, Colbert begins the show by saying that “Hosni Mubarak has stepped down… onto a pillowy mound of money”. He adds humor to entertain the viewers as he is introducing the topics for the show, but it doesn’t seem like he covers a whole lot on the issue. As the show goes on, he talks about how Hosni was having a “rough Valentine’s day”. He explains that citizens in Egypt have been cheering in the streets after his resignation and Mubarak has been “suffering from severe psychological problems”. He makes a couple of more jokes here and there but as for the story on Mubarak, it seems to be all that he covers. Although Colbert is still regarded as a news source, even through his humor, he doesn’t seem to balanced in the topic he is covering. What I mean by this is that even though he talks about the issue, he doesn’t really cover much else about what the topic is still dealing with (such as what will happen now that Mubarak stepped down, or if the violence will still continue on the streets of Egypt).
VOA News on the other hand, seems to be a lot more balanced in terms of how they cover the same story. As they go into the issue, they present the story from several viewpoints. They show that the protestors on the street were happy to hear the news, but it still isn’t clear what Egypt’s future is. The journalists also go into explaining that Thursday, Mubarak was planning to stay in power until September, but the vice president announced his resignation. They also bring in Obama and his importance in the current matter. As they expand on this, they decide to expand on Mubarak’s history before the resignation as well. I think that this story did an exceptional job presenting the story while the Colbert Report obviously did not. There were more ideas and arguments presented in the news article while the Colbert Report seemed to focus on small topics surrounding the big issue, so it clearly wasn’t as balanced as the article from VOA News.
Colbert Report: http://www.colbertnation.com/full-episodes/mon-february-14-2011-lcd-soundsystem
VOA News: http://www.voanews.com/learningenglish/home/world/Egyptians-Celebrate-as-Mubarak-Resigns-Military-in-Control-of-Country-115987634.html
After watching the Colbert Report: Cairo Turns into Jersey Shore, it is obvious that Mr. Colbert finds comedy in providing news. This is to be expected because the show is on comedy central. Comparing it to the article about Anderson Cooper being attacked. The Huffington Post reported more details of the attack and provided statements from Cooper’s crew in Cairo, Egypt. On the Colbert Report, it made a reference that Cairo has turned into the Jersey Shore followed by a clip of a man getting punched in the head ten times. Mr. Colbert also use body language and his tone of voice throughout the video makes sure there is parts to laugh. He also jokes on the grassroots movement in Egypt followed by the comment of the lack of grass in Egypt. He then proceeds to showing a picture of pyramids and camels. Colbert adds a video from CNN that gives some credibility to the report he is covering of Mr. Cooper. I would consider the T.V. show as a nontraditional news source. People that listen to The Colbert Report are aware there is a comedic twist and that not all information is being described. Even though it is not a blog or discussion group I would still classify it as a nontraditional news source. One of the issues with the nontraditional news source is the “same commitment to fairness and balance of coverage that a professional news source would have.” However, as we have seen in the past years, more and more news sources are becoming bias. In the New York Times Article, “Public Opinions”, there are numerous complaints about the voices that are replacing reports. There are a lot more opinion articles that are being placed in the news section. Mr. Colbert plays a role in mobilizing the public. Some citizens don’t like to watch FOX News or CNN because of the political bias of the stations as well as its seriousness. The Colbert Report is a good way to get some top headline news as well as a laugh or two within a few minutes.
There are four theories of international mass communication: the authoritarian theory, the libertarian theory, the social responsibility theory, and the soviet theory. The first is authoritarian theory, which is the oldest system of mass communication. This is when Government exerts direct control over the mass media. This is preventing someone to undermine the government’s authority. The Colbert Report does not go to such extremes to challenge the existing political system. This type of theory is most used in places such as China. The second theory is the libertarian theory or also known as the free press theory. It is based on the notion that “the individual should be free to publish whatever he or she likes.” The Colbert Report and other shows such as The Daily Show have their fair share of criticizing the government but it is always in moderation. For example, on the Daily Show the Bush Administration was the focus for almost a quarter of all the segments. The third theory is the social responsibility theory. It is used here in the United States and based on the notion that “the media play a vital role in informing citizens in a democratic citizen in a democratic society and, as such, should be free from most government constraints in order to provide the best, most reliable and impartial information to the public.” The media must provide analysis, explanation, and interpretation. The Colbert report provides all of the following. It is not as traditional as some main news sources as FOX, however, it does have the capability to analyze, explain, and interpret to the audience. The final theory is the soviet theory which is based on a specific ideology. “Media should serve the interests of the working class and should be publicly owned, not privately owned. “ The Colbert Report there is freedom of speech but only to a certain extent. The government still does censor some material if it is deemed necessary.