Bill Doskoch: Media, BPS*, Film, Minutiae

Curated knowledge, trenchant insights & witty bon mots

What can news learn from Jon Stewart?

That was one question put to David Mindich, author of Tuned Out: Why Americans Under 40 Don’t Follow The News. That was one of five questions put to him by the American Press Institute.

Here’s his answer:

A. I think that newspapers and journalists of various media can learn a tremendous amount from Jon Stewart because first of all he’s extremely funny and maybe those of us who do journalism should get more of a sense of humor. Also he does analysis and biting criticism that we probably should find more of in our publications. Finally, Jon Stewart cares about the stuff he covers or seems to, at least, in a way that we don’t always see from journalists. The CNN model of emotional detachment need not be the only one practiced. Fox News, for example, has been widely cited as being successful because it’s right wing. In fact, I think that its political slant is less of a reason for its success than the fact that most of the reporters and anchors on the show seem to care about the news they cover. I think that one can be detached politically, non-partisan, and objective while still allowing oneself to be emotionally engaged. We have a lot of models for that. Bill Moyers, while he basically had a non-partisan show, he seemed to care a lot about issues like poverty without being overly partisan. There are other models both in print and on television that embrace that. I think that print journalists, while not abandoning their non-partisanship, might experiment with different ways of engaging emotionally in their stories. [New York Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner] Thomas Friedman, for example, is hard to pin down on the political spectrum but yet he does seems to be emotionally invested in the stories that he covers.

Thu, February 24 2005 » Main Page, Media