April 2014 Print Issue

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BC Gavel

remarkable finding when other television programs are continually losing viewership to internet-based media. There is reason to believe that The Daily Show provides quality content. A study performed by Julia R. Fox, a professor of telecommunications at Indiana University, concluded that Stewart’s coverage of the 2004 debates and conventions was just as substantial as the coverage performed by his network news peers. “The stock-in-trade of The Daily Show is hypocrisy, exposing hypocrisy. And nobody else has the guts to do it,” says Hub Brown, chair of the communications department at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. “They really know how to crystallize an issue on all sides, see the silliness everywhere.” It could be this penchant for revealing hypocrisy that draws Millennials to The Daily Show as opposed to other, more conventional institutions for news. In a March survey from the Pew Research Center, it was found that “adults of all ages have become less attached to political and religious institutions in the past decade, but Millennials are at the leading edge of this social phenomenon.” When asked about the #mcconnelling phenomenon and his newfound Internet fame, Senator McConnell took the movement in stride. “You’ve got to be able to do that in this business,” he said, adding that “it’s nice to have some fun occasionally.” Perhaps other news organizations could stand to learn from Jon Stewart and his success at The Daily Show, even if conventional wisdom holds otherwise.

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n March 11, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell released an approximately two-minute long advertisement for his ongoing re-election campaign. The advertisement, entitled “McConnell Working For Kentuckians,” featured a montage of clips showing the Republican senator talking to his constituents, leading boardroom meetings and smiling with his wife, all set to a techno-pop soundtrack. The video was likely released to act as a sort of B-roll tape for super PACs, which cannot legally coordinate with McConnell’s official campaign, to use in commercials to voice their support for him. In popular culture, the video began to take on a life of its own when it attracted the attention of Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show. A few days after the advertisement was released, Stewart encouraged his audience to play with the video by taking a clip from the original advertisement and syncing it to other songs. He dubbed the practice “#mcconnelling” and provided his audience with some samples of his own invention. Stewart set McConnell’s ad to songs like Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sounds of Silence,” Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” and the theme song from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Since then, the phenomenon has flourished, racking up hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube from various clips created by the show’s audience. Even McConnell’s campaign made a few clips, placing the Senator in scenes from Top Gun and The Cosby Show. The viral nature of the #mcconnelling sensation is yet another testament to the sway that Stewart holds amongst the most tech savvy generation, the Millennials. A 2004 study by the Pew Research Center found that 21 percent of people aged 18 to 29 watch shows like The Daily Show as their primary source of news, especially for politics. In contrast, 23 percent of all Americans cited nightly network news or daily newspapers as their primary sources for election coverage. This seems to be indicative of a broader trend amongst Millennials, at least according to a 2012 Pew Research Survey on trends in news consumption. The survey stated that of 24 news sources tested, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report had the youngest and most dedicated audiences, a

By Benjamin Seo/Assoc. News Editor

April 2014