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“Journalism is Dead”


By Bob Hall | April 3rd, 2017

Journalism Is Dead

In 2015, comedian Jon Stewart left his ultra-popular political analysis comedy program, The Daily Show, after 16 years of having occupied the most powerful chair any journalist would ever sit on. You can read on that later on in this article, and you will agree that calling it “THE” most powerful chair is not a misnomer.

Still, the man who spent years interviewing Nobel Prize winners, heads of state, presidential candidates, and social influencers of the first tier, declared that “journalism was dead.” This is rich, considering that Stewart himself had never studied, or worked a day of his life, as an actual journalist but still enjoyed benefits that not even Walter Cronkite himself could have ever imagined. Before we get to that part, let’s ask ourselves first: Is he correct in his statement?

Is Jon Stewart right?

A huge part of Jon Stewart’s rationale regarding journalism is that the press is neither the rock nor the anchor that it once was. Diluted by what some call “fake news” and alternative filters of information known by the hashtag #altfacts, traditional media is now a weakened force that is neither impartial nor objective, according to Stewart. In addition to this, he also states that mainstream media (MSM) outlets are easily triggered, lack transparency, take sides, and no longer verify facts.

They also engage quite easily in wars of words and wills, and they spend more time on opinion papers and editorials than on investigative work that is worth looking into.

The consequence was that half of modern society lost the trust it once had in the media and Jon Stewart became one of the top “news sources” preferred by Americans for the 16 years that the show lasted.

The Journalist That Never Was

There is even more weight to Jon Stewart’s words. The proof is Stewart himself – a man with no journalism degree, experience, or inkling to become a journalist, ended up having the influence and magnetic pull to entice the most powerful people in the world to come to him, rather than the other way around.

Not once did Stewart have to leave the comfort of his own studio, and he did not even have to change his morning commute in order to get the amazing chance of interviewing a sitting President of the United States. Instead, Barack Obama was the one who detoured himself in order to make it to Jon Stewart’s show.

The same thing happened with Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Colin Powell, the mega influential Bassem Youssef (who is known as the Jon Stewart of the Arab Worlds), Jimmy Carter, Henry Kissinger, Donald Rumsfeld, John McCain, Nancy Pelosi and Chris Christie, among many more.

Basically speaking, people whose life stories, at some point, changed the course of history or influenced the minds of the masses, went out of their way to be interviewed by Jon Stewart – a man with no journalism degree, credentials, or previous journalistic experience.

Is Jon Steward What Real Journalism Ought to be Like?

It is safe to argue Jon Stewart created an award-winning formula to surface as the best option to traditional journalism. This is a formula based on 6 essential points.

1. Strong work ethic – He never “sold out” his opinions
2. Transparency – His views were consistent on both sides of the political climate
3. Sense of humor – His witty personality and natural comedic talent eased the delivery of his analysis
4. Rigor in delivery- His interviews held an invariable degree of depth and high interest.
5. Charm – Stewart was willing to take risks and appear vulnerable in specific situations to garnish the trust of his guests, even the most contrary to his well-known liberal preferences.
6. Honesty – Stewart was not afraid to dig deep and get to the heart of the issue.

All of these are examples of what could be described as Stewart’s work ethic. This ethic, and his innate talent for observation, built a high degree of credibility and rigor in style that drew the attention and commanded the respect of the most influential people in Western civilization.

Is Journalism Dead Then?

Stewart’s main argument with journalists is that they have grown a thin skin. In fact, he went as far as stating that the only reason the media and President Donald Trump do not get along is because they are exactly like one another.

Stewart goes as far as suggesting to all journalists that they should all go ahead and get a hobby to learn to be better at what they do. The suggestion? A hobby named “journalism.” If that is not a slap right in the face of traditional media, go figure out what is.

Jon Stewart declared traditional journalism dead as he left the show with the highest power in political journalism, The Daily Show. Journalism is now, according to Stewart, diluted by easily triggered individuals who lack the willpower to cover thoughtful and meaningful stories.

News as Entertainment

We live in a culture of entertainment. This has given rise to the phenomenon of preferring news that is entertainment in nature. We seek news that is sensationalist and thrilling, choosing superficial headlines over meaningful discussions. Ironically this may even be part of the reason why many people tuned in to The Daily Show considering its comedy/news structure. But it succeeded in combining deep and thoughtful news discussion along with entertainment. At the end of a dressing-down on traditional media, Stewart was asked whether the media would self-reflect and “get better at their jobs?” “I really do, believe me,” he replied, a wry reference to an earlier joke that Trump could not be trusted because of his constant incorporation of “believe me.”

Questions, Comments, or Suggestions? Email me at bob.hall@thenewsreflection.com

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