News Sources: Viewer Knowledge

The Pew Research Center

What Americans Know: 1989-2007

I only glanced at this article on poll data, but it is quite interesting.  The Daily Show and the The Colbert Report are at the top ranking of informed viewers (along with the major newspaper websites).  The Fox News Channel is at the very bottom keeping company with the Network morning shows, but the O’Reilly factor is above average.  O’Reilly Factor looks like a haven for intelligent people on Fox News and is at the same level as NPR.

What interests me most is that this justifies a recent comment I made.  I was explaining my criticisms of Glenn Beck’s criticisms about the mainstream media he is a part of.  I said that Comedy Central represents me more than all of the tv news combined.  As I’m a proponent of being well informed, I would seem to be correct in my faith in Colbert and Stewart.

One criticism of this poll is that it seems to be testing people on factoids rather than on comprehension and insight. Being informed about factoids doesn’t mean someone is able to think critically about the issues and come to an objective conclusion.  For example, NPR has a format where they spend lengthy periods of time doing in-depth interviews about specific issues.  Also, NPR spends a lot of time on human interest stories which does inform the listener about other perspectives which I think is important, but this kind of knowledge wasn’t in the poll.  Plus, NPR is more including a mix with entertainment and fiction author interviews.  That isn’t exactly comparable to the O’Reilly factor.

Also, I want to know where the viewers were informed.  For example, viewers of The Daily Show are highly informed and they get a fair amount of info from the show, but I imagine they tend to be a demographic that seeks many other sources of news.  There is a difference between a viewer who actively seeks out knowledge to inform themselves and the viewer who more passively absorbs all of their info from a more limited number of sources.  The ability to spit back factoids does not intelligence make.

I want to know how the different viewers interpret the data.  A viewer may be well-informed, but either repeats the interpretation of the news reporter/commenter or else has a highly biased understanding.  Which set of viewers had the widest understanding by considering multiple perspectives?  Which set of viewers was best at manipulating the data to rationalize their preconceived beliefs?



Conservatives Think Stephen Colbert Is Serious!

In a study from Ohio State University, conservatives who watched the Colbert Report were more likely to report that Colbert only pretends to be joking and genuinely meant what he said while liberal…
In a study from Ohio State University, conservatives who watched the Colbert Report were more likely to report that Colbert only pretends to be joking and genuinely meant what he said while liberals were more likely to report that Colbert used satire and was not serious when offering political statements.

In other news, conservatives think world wrestling is real!

Fake Pundits: Colbert on Beck

The Colbert Report
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Season 5, Episode 30
Stephen Colbert:

Nation, I’m sorry but I got to take a minute here to defend the mainstream media’s favorite punching bag, Glenn Beck.  They are attacking the silver gopher just because he dominates the coveted demographic of 18 to 49 yr old voices in his head.  Now, It’s perfectly fair to attack Glenn for what he believes afterall he is a public figure like President Obama or Kermit the Frog. 

He is a fear-mongerer of a thousand voices.  Well, two.  But now they’re coming after Glenn for something much more important than his beliefs.  What Glenn believes is irrelevant.  He has said himself that he is not a journalist…

“I’m not a journalist” (New York Times, June 16, 2009)

…he is just a rodeo clown…

“I’m a rodeo clown.” (New York Times, March 9, 2009)

…and that if you believe what he says you’re an idiot…

“…you’re an idiot.” (New York Times, March 29, 2009)

…which itself proves that Glenn Beck believes what he says.

But Glenn does more than just say things.  Tell them what you do Glenn.

“I just love my country *whimper* and I fear for it.”

He just loves and fears.  And sometimes he just fears love.