“The Daily Show is much funnier than traditional newscasts, but a new study from Indiana University says it has the same amount of meat on its bones when it comes to coverage of the news. The brand of news coverage Jon Stewart and the rest of The Daily Show’s staff brings to the airwaves is just as substantive as traditional news programs like World News Tonight and the CBS Evening News, according to the study conducted by IU assistant professor of telecommunications Julia R. Fox and a couple of graduate students. The researchers looked at coverage of the 2004 Democratic and Republican national conventions and the first presidential debate of the fall campaign, all of which were covered by the mainstream broadcast news outlets and The Daily Show. Individual broadcasts of the nightly news and corresponding episodes of The Daily Show were analyzed by the researchers, who found that the “average amounts of video and audio substance in the broadcast network news stories” were no different from The Daily Show. Perhaps more telling, The Daily Show delivered longer stories on the topic.
“It should be noted that the broadcast network news stories about the presidential election were significantly shorter, on average, than were The Daily Show with Jon Stewart stories,” said Professor Fox. “The argument could be made that while the amount of substance per story was not significantly different, the proportion of each story devoted to substance was greater in the network news stories … On the other hand, the proportion of stories per half hour program devoted to the election campaign was greater in The Daily Show.”