What does it say for journalism today when the best and most accurate news is delivered by comedians such as Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert? It says a lot, actually. It says that somebody over at Comedy Central does their homework and research. It says that even though their news “bits” are funnier than hell, their opinion based news is actually founded on FACT. Imagine that. Opinion based on fact and not “made-up stuff”.
It’s no wonder that a Time magazine poll last year named Stewart the most trusted man in news. He has literally replaced the deceased Walter Cronkite. And no, that is not a joke but most of our main stream media is. Both Stewart and Colbert (or their staffs) actually go digging for news. They call out our politicians on their absurdity and lies. In the old days they called this “investigative journalism”. Today it is called Comedy Central.
Thanks to the social news website of http://www.reddit.com Stewart and Colbert will be holding dueling rallies at the Washington D.C. Mall Oct. 30. Stewart’s is called “Rally to Restore Sanity” and Colbert’s dubs his “March to Keep Fear Alive.” While they are obviously both parodies of Glenn Beck’s recent “Restoring Honor Rally” in the same location and on the date of Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech, (which many thought was awful timing) they joke that maybe 400 million people could show up.
Joseph Laughlin, who frequents the Reddit site started the ball rolling recently by putting up a message that said Colbert should hold a satirical rally in response to Becks’s rally. He started the campaign rolling and it took off. He and a handful of other Reddit commentors started sending messages across the country in e-mails, Facebook, Twitter and any other means they could find. They even raised $240,000 for one of Colbert’s favorite charities to entice him. It worked.
It will be more than “funny” to see how Fox, ABC,NBC,CBS,CNN,MSNBC et al, handle this rally. Will they “cover” it like they did Beck’s rally, acting like it was “real” news. Will they distort the number of people who show up in order to downplay the power of people and humor. Will they even understand that although it is satire, the crowd that does show up is among other things, thumbing their noses at the main stream media and its robotic and shallow reporting of what really is going on in America today?
Will there be a politician alive who will understand that this is an outlet for frustrated and unhappy voters to vent, mingle and maybe with a whole lot of humor, decide to vote them out of office? I guess we’ll all have to tune-in and see..
Difference between news analyst, commentator and pundit? None
Image by quirkybird via Flickr
I decided just yesterday for no reason in particular, to throw my hat into the pundit ring. I’ve heard through other reliable pundits (pretty funny huh, using reliable and pundit in same sentence) that all you need is an opinion and a forum. I figure I have both. My forum might be small by Fox or CNN standards but never-the-less a blog is a blog and you just never know who drops by.
I was in the newspaper business for many years, and the only words we ever used to describe who we were and what we did were typically reporter, correspondent, columnist and of course editor. The editorial was the newspaper version of opinion along with columns, which were the express opinion of the writer who wrote them. As reporters or correspondents (which were our part-time reporters) we wrote news backed up with plenty of facts and sources or it didn’t fly. Pretty cut and dried. But, people even then, expressed confusion about what exactly an editorial was, no matter that I once wrote an editorial explaining to readers exactly what an editorial was. So evidently, opinion and fact and how they are packaged has always been confusing for some. Myself included.
Today of course, we have been enlightened with so much opinion in our news, especially TV news, that the lines seem especially blurred between pundit, commentator and news analyst. I have been researching these three terms for quite a while and have come to the conclusion that pundits, commentators and news analysts are completely interchangeable. For a while, I thought a news analyst was not supposed to have a personal opinion. That he/she was supposed to gather the facts, have some extra deep knowledge to add to those facts that us dummies don’t know and present same to us in an unbiased manner.
But, my new pundit opinion thinking cap got in the way. If you are analyzing a situation how do you do that without bringing your own bias into the mix? How is an analyst going to analyze without coming to some conclusion? And you can’t come to a conclusion and be unbiased. If you just throw out the facts and don’t analyze then you aren’t an analyst anymore just a reporter or a correspondent or someone who just reads the news on TV with no comments whats-so-ever (an unheard of phenomenon). Even interpreting the news, which is something news analysts do often, is still interpreting the news by the standards of the analysts themselves or who ever they work for. So they still have a point of view. A point of view cannot be void of opinion.
This is certainly not think-tank stuff but since a commentator is an opinion person, and a pundit is most definitely an opinion person (think Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck) and since I have personally dropped the status of news analyst to mere opinion person I think a new word to describe all three interchangeable words is in order. Maybe something like anal-puntator or…I’m sure you come can up with plenty of your own.
(If you are a news junkie like I am you might want to pick up a copy of this; http://amzn.to/1rIhuzD “The News: A Users Manual.” It definitely shows how the 24hr. news cycle affects our lives. Now, the author does analyze in this book but maybe I like it because I agree with most of it.) I bought it in hardcover rather than digital just because I find it easier to skim. I am an Amazon affiliate so I do get a small commission If you purchase through my link.
Filed under buzz, politics, satire
Tagged as bill-oreilly, CNN, commentator, FOX, Fox Broadcasting Company, Glenn Beck, news analyst, pundits, Rush Limbaugh, Television