Satirical tradition needed more than ever in newspapers
To the Editor,
Re: Tired politics in need of fresh satire, Guest Comment, Oct. 11.
Jim Zeeben’s article on satirical journalism was a breath of fresh air.
Today’s news is often full of rehashed arguments that fail to provide new insights on the issues they describe. Not only that, opinion articles that debate the current hot-button issues can become negative, leaving readers with a feeling of despondency.
This is why we need more satire in the news. When done well, satire can shine a new and refreshing light on stale issues while giving them a comical perspective. And it doesn’t have to take away the importance of the subject matter.
Take The Daily Show with Jon Stewart for instance. One of the most popular faces on television, Stewart brings a humorous slant on serious issues by showcasing the absurdity in America’s increasingly polarized politics.
His satire is effective because the political system he is reporting on is so defective. With cable news networks outwardly supporting their political party of choice, it’s easier now than ever for politicians to abuse the public trust and not be held accountable for it.
Enter Stewart, who skewers the rampant political hypocrisy and media bias through comedic monologues and comedians acting as faux journalists.
In an online poll conducted by Time Magazine, Stewart was voted as America’s Most Trusted Newscaster, beating out news anchors from NBC, ABC and CNN.
One must keep in mind that The Daily Show airs on The Comedy Network, a network that includes shows like South Park and Just for Laughs. The fact that viewers take him seriously can only speak to their dissatisfaction with conventional news.
People also take him seriously because they see him as taking the issues seriously. His satire does not obstruct the content of the news – instead, he states the facts in an ironic tone and brings to the surface the hypocrisy and duplicity found in much of today’s media and politics.
Stewart takes what the Onion has been doing for years and puts it on television.
His primary viewership is between 18 and 35, a demographic that has grown up during the partisan era of Bush and Harper, and a demographic that needs satirical news in order to stay sane in the face of calamities like our current economic recession and global climate change.
Stewart, and his protégé Stephen Colbert, are so popular because of the positive way in which they present such depressing news.
When done well satire can both be trustworthy and insightful, and Stewart has remarkably accomplished these.
As Zeeben stated, at one time satirical columns were common in newspapers, and I think it’s time to once again renew this tradition. Let’s bring some much needed perspective and humor back to today’s news.