Increasing political knowledge?
I think I am a typical passive viewer in this “less politically interested” population labeled by Xenos and Becker. Even in my home country, political news was not my priority, no matter for watching television or browsing websites online.
Xenos and Becker introduce an alternative way to be more involved in political news. For me, it’s the first time to watch The Daily Show. The first episode is talking about “CNN fires Rick Sanchez, and Sam Harris discusses science’s role in determining morality.” To be frank this task is more difficult than reading political blogs in that there’s no caption, let alone the culture differences, which make me feel so odd when I hear lots of laughter. I watched this episode twice but still cannot fully understand the core idea. Therefore, searching more information via Google is a must. Thanks to Google news, I learn more about this kick-out issue. CNN ex-anchor Rick Sanchez who was born in Cuba indicated that current US media was controlled by Jewish like Stewart, however, minorities was oppressed. Also Sanchez labeled Stewart as “bigot”, which was a serious case, following was result of getting unemployed from CNN. The same to Rahm Emanuel and the book The Moral Landscape.
The second one was even more difficult to understand. Undoubtedly, again, results from Google news shoulder the responsibility of complementarities. Therefore, for me, searching relative news content from other media cannot be only explained as internal political interests are activated. After all, being curious about unknown or unfamiliar things is just usual and pervasive.
Discussed by Baum, the relationship between political comedy consuming and increasing political knowledge reminds me of social learning theory and cultivation theory. The former suggests that audiences learn about real-life issues from media content while the latter explicates that audience’s perception of certain image is cultivated by passively receiving media content.
Looking back to my experience with The Daily Show and Google news, I don’t think I am representative in that seeking factual information from other media is not due to the stimulus is shown. In fact, I was kind of forced to do more research online mainly because I didn’t understand the political comedy, but the subjects in Xenos and Becker’s study could know political world better.
In my opinion, when people are exposed to hard news, they believe in what they see and hear since the content are presented by official, reliable media organizations in a traditional way. Although hard news doesn’t have the power as “magic bullet”, it is more convincing. However, if it is replaced by soft news like political comedy, I think it is natural for people to seek extra factual information to help them further develop relative stories, or maybe confirm their thoughts. In other words, if the subjects were exposed to other stimulus, they might look for pertinent materials as well. Thus I agree with Xenos and Becker’s conclusion that what Jon Stewart offers is “largely as a supplement to, rather than a replacement for, traditional hard news” (p. 319).