From Stewart to Satire: Alternative Journalism in Late Night Tv

Open Access
Appleman, Michael Jeffrey
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Curtis William Chandler, Thesis Supervisor
  • Robert Dwayne Richards, Honors Advisor
  • The Daily Show
  • satire
  • Stewart
  • The Colbert Report
  • fake news
  • alternative journalism
  • Last Week Tonight
  • Oliver
  • humor
  • comedy
The blurring of lines between entertainment and news is a growing phenomenon in broadcast television. This blurriness is often to as infotainment that includes the “fake news” genre. Scholars have increasingly turned their attention to understanding and evaluating the impact of fake news by looking to The Daily Show with host Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s The Colbert Report. In America’s changing media environment defined by corporate interests, discursive integration, and technological advancements it’s becoming increasingly difficult to define what “real news” is. This paper argues that Stewart and Colbert use their satire to perform an alternative form of journalism that educates and informs while re-envisioning the journalism landscape. It also challenges Stewart and Colbert’s rejection to being associated with journalism because their use of fact-based satire creates a quasi-journalistic product. It looks at research conducted by scholars and interviews with other journalists to reinforce the importance of what Stewart and Colbert do for journalism. They might not be considered traditional journalists because they don’t always follow core journalism principles, but they function as media critics and help make journalists better. The growing influence of fake news is also leading to an emergence of new people that may be doing a better job than Stewart or Colbert. John Oliver’s new show Last Week Tonight, defies the typical format and style of its predecessors, and takes the time to do well researched alternative journalism. Oliver who also rejects any claims to being a journalist, is taking what he learned from his mentor Stewart and creating his own wry satire. Another program called The Nightly Show is taking over Colbert’s time slot to give a voice to the underrepresented in America. At a time when The Colbert Report is off the air and Stewart has announced his imminent departure from The Daily Show, this paper also analyzes the transition of late night alternative journalism.