By: Michael a. xenos & Amy B. Bexker<br />Moments of Zen: The Effects of The Daily Show on Information Seeking and Political Learning<br />
Biographical Information<br />Michael A. Xenos<br />Assistant ProfessorMass Communications/PoliticalScience<br />Louisiana State University<br />ResearchInterests: <br />political communication <br />democratic deliberation <br />public opinion<br />political engagement<br />
Biographical Information<br />Amy B. Becker <br />Assistant Professor:<br />Mass Communication<br />Communication Studies<br /> Towson University<br />Research Interests:<br />public opinion and citizen participation on controversial political issues, and the political effects of exposure and attention to political entertainment, especially late night comedy. <br />
Biographical Information<br />Matthew Baum<br />Professor<br />Harvard Kennedy School<br /> Research Addresses:<br />The evolving relationship between<br /> the mass media, public opinion,<br /> executive decision-making regarding <br /> foreign policy.<br />
Hard News –vs- Soft News<br /><ul><li>Politics, war, economics and crime used to be considered hard news, while arts, entertainment and lifestyles were considered soft news.
A hard news story takes a factual approach: What happened? Who was involved? Where and when did it happen? Why?
A soft news story tries instead to entertain or advise the reader.
But increasingly, the lines are beginning to blur. Is a story about the private life of a politician "politics" or "entertainment"?</li></li></ul><li>Gateway Hypothesis<br />Defined by authors as “exposure to soft news programs facilitate the acquisition of political information from hard news sources, particularly among less politically sophisticated comedy viewers, this serving as a gateway to political attention and knowledge.”<br />
Priming<br />Priming theory is the idea that media provides blocks of information to audiences. Then audiences use that frame of reference for further communication messages. Where agenda-setting theory is the idea media tells the audience the importance of an issue, priming tells the audience if the issue is good or bad.<br />
Study One<br />Hypothesis 1: For less politically interested viewers, exposure to a political issue through a comedy program will be associated with increased attentiveness to that issue in the other media<br /><ul><li>Conditions: 332 undergraduates who did receive extra credit. Four conditions- hard news (clip from NBC about troops in Iraq), comedy (story from Daily Show) , mixed (had hard/comedy clips), **all stories were same coverage/ footage control group that received no video stimulus. </li></li></ul><li>Other Conditions of Study 1<br />There was a pretest questionnaire given to test political interest<br />Static Information board: in the form of a web browser where they could access a wide array of info and links <br />Authors were able to track what sites participants clicked on and for how long<br />
Results<br /><ul><li>Results were consistent to hypothesis and do provide support for increased attentiveness to news stories for less motivated individuals. Provided support for gateway hypothesis in that participants in comedy only setting spent more time viewing Iraq and foreign policy than other conditions. Participant low in political interest were three times more likely to access info about foreign policy after exposure to Daily Show clip.</li></li></ul><li>Study Two<br />150 students participated<br />Four conditions involving news and comedy<br />Pre-test determined interest in politics<br />Results showed students with little political interest learned more from comedy<br />Students with high political interest learned more from news than comedy<br />
Levels of political knowledge<br />Soft news is associated more with recognition of information than recall<br />Recall requires more information to be stored<br />Recall is more difficult than recognition<br />Soft news might get attention, but does it produce recall or recognition?<br />
Applying knowledge to democracy<br />What is the importance of a knowledgeable electorate?<br />What do we need to know to function in democracy?<br />Does political comedy detract from democracy?<br />
Jon Stewart and democracy<br />Does Jon Stewart have a responsibilty to democracy?<br />Is anything ever “fake news”?<br />Should Stewart be held to the same standards of objectivity and telling the whole story as other news outlets?<br />Does Stewart contribute to political knowledge?<br />
Check out these clips:<br />Jon Stewart on Crossfire<br />Jon Stewart on the Bill O'Reilly Show<br />Is Jon Stewart good for democracy?<br />
Conclusion<br />The study found for less politically motivated subjects, exposure to soft news provides a gateway to hard news and political knowledge. The actually learning effects were limited in soft news.<br />