The New York Times ran a great profile of fake news purveyor Jon Stewart this weekend. According to a 2007 Pew poll, Stewart was tied with real newsmen Brian Williams, Tom Brokaw, Andersen Cooper and Dan Rather for #4 as the journalist they most admired.
The Daily Show is my go to source for television news. Stewart and his crew do a much better job than “real” journalists on calling politicians on their hypocrisy. The Times profile barely touches on Stewart’s agenda-setting effect; it isn’t uncommon to see hypocrisy exposed on his show get called out later in more traditional news shows.
Stewart is as tough, if not tougher, on journalists. His media criticism is often sharper than that of Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz. (Kurtz frequently uses clips from The Daily Show on his CNN program Reliable Sources.)
The show has also changed my expectations of the late night talk show. I find that I’m disappointed when the interview segment is an actor, instead of an author or politician.
The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are ahead of many in the old media when it comes to presenting video content on the Web. After a slow start, this year’s upgrades to the Web site show that they really get the new world of audience interaction and content delivery. Full episodes of each show are available the day after broadcast. You can scroll back through previous episodes. Videos can be embedded on Web sites. Want to see that clip everyone is talking about? The search feature lets you easily find it. You can even find shows going back years. Unfortunately, there’s no way to get video from a specific date years ago.
The Times could learn from them. The nearly 3,000 word story includes two pictures and not a single video. The author describes a few segments, including an extended description of Stewart’s first post 9/11 broadcast, which scream for video. (The video is available on thedailyshow.com.)