Being An examination of entertainment- informed based news and whether such vs. programs inform or create the sense of being informed. feeling informed Barry Hollander Grady College University of Georgia High school students use the news, just not in traditional formats. They also see describe alternative sources as news, such as The Daily Show. 7 Source: The Future of the First Amendment for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation (2006). What about young adults? How often do you watch The Daily Show by Age Group? Regularly Sometimes Hardly ever Never 18-29 11 24 12 53 30-49 7 15 11 66 50-64 4 13 11 71 65+ 3 8 7 81 Source: Pew Center for the People and the Press, July 30 2006, survey Percent of All Regular Use of Programs Young people tend to use other 40 news-related media less often than Stewart 30 Limbaugh other age categories except for 20 Cable News listening to talk radio or watching 10 Late Night morning news shows. The overall 0 audience for The Daily Show is 2002 2004 2006 relatively small compared to other programs. Why An enlightened citizenry is considered one of the foundations knowledge of a successful democracy. Informed citizens are thought to be matters less susceptible to persuasion by emotional arguments or demagoguery. Despite dramatic increases in education and information sources, how much people know about public affairs has not significantly changed. Unfortunately, “to say that much of the public is uninformed about much of the substance of politics and public policy is to say nothing new” (Delli Carpini & Keeter, 1992, p. 19). Measures of Knowledge Recall The traditional measure of knowledge, either to civics textbook or current events questions, that requires a respondent pull a correct answer from his or her head. Recognition Less traditional, multiple measures of whether a respondent recognizes or remembers something about a story or topic, a feeling of knowing. Estimate Respondents asked to estimate their level of knowledge. Similar to internal efficacy; often modestly correlated with actual knowledge. Measures of Media Use Exposure Measures of mere exposure, from number of days used to scales that range from “regularly” to “never” for specific media. Fails to capture the haphazard nature of some media. Attention Typically builds on exposure and taps how much attention paid to a medium, a measure preferred by many to understand television and related media. Motivated Use Often used to measure use for a specific purpose, such as to keep up with news (i.e., reliance). Helpful when asking about entertainment-based media with a news angle, such as The Daily Show or West Wing. Soft and Hard News Many studies find no relationship between watching entertainment- based programs or soft news and political knowledge. Baum argues that soft news can lead to incidental learning by an inattentive public. He found an interaction with education and soft news use much like the one I found for talk radio exposure. Prior, in response to Baum, found very little support for the notion that soft news can lead to greater knowledge. He suggests instead political advertising may hold the key to informing the public. A recent experiment by Baumgartner & Morris found that watching The Daily Show contributed greatly to a sense of being informed but greater cynicism about the political process. Brewer & Cao found seeing a candidate on late-night or comedy shows can positively influence knowledge about the campaign. A study forthcoming in JOBEM suggests that The Daily Show with Jon Stewart contains as much substantive news coverage as traditional broadcast network newscasts. One Study Multivariate Analysis Findings Watching late-night shows such as Leno and Letterman to keep up with the news, after statistical controls, was negatively associated In a recent Journal of with with recall but positively associated with Broadcasting & Electronic recognition. Media piece (V49, #3, 2005) I examined the effect Watching such comedy programs as The Daily Show to keep up with the news was of watching late-night and negatively associated with recall but comedy programs to keep unrelated to recognition. up with the news. My dependent variables were Age did not interact with viewing in the expected ways. For example, watching recall and recognition of comedy shows improved both recognition political information. and recall for younger viewers. Late-night I predicted an age viewing was not associated with recognition regardless of age, but for older respondents it interaction with viewing led to less recall as compared to younger based on my earlier viewers. published work on talk radio. However, as is often the case, data got in the way of a good theory. Political Knowledge (4-item index) Do you happen to know which political party has a majority in the U.S. This House of Representatives? Do you know the name of the terrorist organization that is responsible for the September 11th attacks on the United States? Study In the recent trial involving Martha Stewart, can you recall whether (she was found guilty/she was found innocent/there was a mistrial)? Does watching The Since the start of military action in Iraq last March, about how many U.S. Daily Show affect soldiers have been killed? To the best of your knowledge, has it been young viewers under 500, 500 to 1000, 1000 to 2000, or more than 2000? different than other viewers on knowledge or the Recognition (5-item index) sense of being informed. How closely do you follow these issues? (4-point scale from very closely to not at all closely). News about the current situation in Iraq? Data drawn from the News about candidates for the 2004 presidential election? 2004 Pew Biennial The Sept 11 Commission’s hearing on the 2001 terrorist attacks? Media Consumption The high price of gasoline these days? Survey. My thanks to The issue of gay and lesbian marriage? the Pew Center for making these data available. All interpretations are my Efficacy own. I often don’t have enough background information to follow news stories (4-point agree/disagree scale). [Coded so high scores are high internal or self efficacy). Zero-order correlations among key variables Late Daily Age Paper TV Night Show Efficacy Recog Age Read Newspaper .20 Watch TV News .15 .20 Watch Late Night -.11 .05 .09 Watch Daily Show -.22 .25 Efficacy -.04 .16 .09 .06 Recognition .14 .27 .34 .11 .08 .16 Knowledge .09 .24 .16 .07 .06 .20 .33 Non-significant correlations are excluded from the table. Watching The Daily Show 0.2 0.1 Partial r 0 -0.1 18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65+ Age Recognition Efficacy Knowledge Partial correlations by Age category controlling for education, Income, sex, and race. Significant partial correlations are greater than .10 or less than -.10 on this table. For TV News and Newspapers, different results Watching TV News Reading Daily Newspaper 0.4 0.4 0.3 0.3 Partial r Partial r 0.2 0.2 0.1 0.1 0 0 -0.1 -0.1 18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65+ 18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65+ Age Age Recognition Efficacy Knowledge Recognition Efficacy Knowledge Partial correlations controlling for age, education, income, and sex.. For TV news, an r > .07 is significant. For newspapers, an r > .15 is significant. What is it about The Daily Show? Young Respondents (18-24) Older Respondents (45-54) 0.2 0.4 0.3 Partial r Partial r 0.1 0.2 0.1 0 0 -0.1 -0.1 Daily Late Night TV Newsp Daily Late Night TV Newsp Show Show Age Age Recognition Efficacy Knowledge Recognition Efficacy Knowledge Is there something special about this preference for humor in Like News to be Funny news? By age, some interesting results 0.2 emerge. Among the youngest respondents, there is a significant Partial r 0.1 association between a preference for such 0 news and recognition, one not seen in other -0.1 age groups. 18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65+ Age Recognition Efficacy Knowledge This is a first blush at analyses examining the relationship between If you watch the news and entertainment-based don't like it, then this is your news and how much counter program to the news. young people learn – or think they learn – from Some people confuse us such programs. with a news show. And that either says something terrible about the state of Whether such programs news in this country or replace traditional news something terrible about the state of comedy on for some people, this program. particularly younger citizens, remains an open Jon Stewart question.
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