Daily Show: Is “The News” Obselete?

I’m sure the idea isn’t unique, but the Daily Show happened upon an author who is trying to cash in on the notion that the six o’clock news is a dying breed, and I thought it was worth linking to.

I think, for all that Stewart pokes fun at the idea, that there is a bit of validity in the argument. It must be noted that concept of “only” 25 million viewers is a bit ridiculous, but the points that the audience is aging and new sources of information are beginning to take over are factual and undeniably risky for “traditional” newscasters.

The problem for these news programs is that they have failed to keep up with the pace they set. It’s an inevitable occurrence, I suppose, but since television news became a primarily entertainment-driven form of information, it has lost both credibility and momentum. Once, the news was watched because it was informative. Somewhere along there, the company heads decided that they were going to try to increase their audience by innovating the format of the news hour. Rather than in-depth coverage of major issues, the news became a sound bite — even more so than most other shows or media. Since the content was less invigorating, I suppose the thought process went, then the format should be made even more entertaining than most shows.

Well, now we’re in an age of sound bites, and other technologies have surpassed the news in their ability to condense the news into a three-second blip. iPods are mentioned, but I think more important still are websites and blogs, which can easily reduce news to less than a single thought, all the while offering it free of charge and at ones convenience.

Television news standardized the thought that news was to be entertaining. But the television is a media which gets overwhelming when filled with too many flashes of information. As such, the standard has become the laggard, and newscasters really do have to fight for their survival.

And, in my opinion, the best thing that could happen is for the traditional News to die off, and be replaced by one of two things. First, programs ike the Daily Show are a very good successor to regular six o’clock news. They are informative, but deliver entertainment in a different, less choppy manner, which adds to their sustainability and gives them a unique twist. I would much rather watch the Daily Show than CBC News. Also, I think there would be a market for really traditional news, if some business would be willing to take the gamble. If a show were to surface that went back to longer, more in-depth stories, with many different perspectives, I think it might hit off better than the surface information that plagues the news today. While it would depend on a niche audience, for sure, that audience would surely be dedicated to the program, and the owners would have founded a dependable source of income!


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Stephen
    Oct 15, 2007 @ 13:59:48

    News in print has always been preferable to TV news for in depth content. TV used to have one obvious advantage: video footage. But now that advantage is gone, since the Web is full of video. I have always appreciated the CBC’s news coverage, but I admit … these days I get most of my news from (1) the Globe and Mail online; (2) Andrew Sullivan’s blog; and (3) Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show.

    If you’re really interested in the topic, you should watch the CBC program, The Hour with George Stromboulopouloulouloulos. (spelling? Nightly at 8:00 p.m., I think.) You’d probably have to watch it a few times to give it a fair trial. George Stromboulopolou…xyz is a pretty cool guy, and the show depends on it. It’s a pretty traditional news format (unlike The Daily Show), but sexed up a bit and aimed at a university-aged demographic. I think it’s well done, but it’s probably a lost cause nonetheless.


  2. nebcanuck
    Oct 15, 2007 @ 14:52:20

    But now that advantage is gone, since the Web is full of video.

    I think you’re onto something when you say that the ease of video usage on the web is something that has severely hurt TV news. Not only is it possible to link to videos that corporations post, but now people can either embed those videos right to their blog, or they can even make their own videos. The medium of television’s limitations make it a less appealing concept for those who really want to engage with the content.

    If you’re really interested in the topic, you should watch the CBC program, The Hour with George Stromboulopouloulouloulos. (spelling? Nightly at 8:00 p.m., I think.)

    I’ve seen George’s (easier 😛 ) show once, I believe. It is, as you said, driven around the fact that he’s funny. Unfortunately, I seem to recall that the content was fairly shallow, too. Something about someone with mind powers, or something along that line. It seemed almost like a talk show instead of a real news program.

    Perhaps that was the exception to the rule. I will give it another chance to see if that’s the case, since you seem to think it would appeal.


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