Friday Forum: Get interested

Chris Hampson

Chris Hampson

By The Daily Illini


Jon Stewart, it seems, is the man of the hour. First there was his oh-so-hilarious appearance on CNN’s “Crossfire,” where he ripped Tucker Carlson apart, bowtie and all. Then came his appearances on the covers of Rolling Stone and Newsweek, and his interview with “60 Minutes.”

He’s this moment’s media darling – quite ironic since his career is dedicated to mocking the press that’s honoring him.

Stewart’s influence on the 18-to-30-year-old voting bloc can’t be denied. It’s the youth vote that could make or break this election. According to a CNN report, 21 percent of the viewers in that age group cite “Saturday Night Live” and Stewart’s “The Daily Show” as sources of election coverage. Twenty-three percent cited traditional news sources.

Not to knock Stewart in all his witty, sexy goodness, but it’s disturbing that almost as many young people get their news from comedy shows as they do from the regular news.

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In an age where the media is derided as either aggressively liberal or pugnaciously conservative, we need to get our news not just from comedy shows, but from myriad sources.

As Stewart pointed out on “Crossfire,” his show doesn’t have the journalistic responsibility that CNN shows do. He acknowledged this to Carlson: “You’re on CNN. The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls.”

He doesn’t have to be unbiased or even comprehensive — it’s a comedy show, and a damn funny one.

Moreover, most news sources – even ones not on Comedy Central – are incomplete. We at The Pitt News, for instance, are not a national newspaper, though about 40 percent of our readers cite us as their only news source – that’s bad.

It’s rare that a newspaper endorses its competition, but we are. We shouldn’t be the only news source for about 9,000 readers. We’re a local, community newspaper – we don’t have a Titusville news desk, much less a New York one.

So pick up another newspaper or flip through one online. Google News has an unfiltered digest of current headlines. Look through them. Piece the truth together not just by watching the local news or an hour of CNN, but also by constructing what’s going on from multiple sources.

We’re in the midst of a presidential election, one that’s focused on national security, abortion, the economy – and, oh yeah, we hear there’s a war on terrorism or something. This is no time for ignorance or laziness. Not having time or an interest isn’t an excuse, not with media pouring in on television, the radio, in the papers and from the Internet. Make time. Get interested.

The news might not be as funny as Stewart’s, but being an educated citizen sometimes means going beyond what is instantly accessible and, bit by bit, distilling the truth from the hype.

Staff Editorial

The Pitt News (U. Pittsburgh)