media literacy
online news
pew research
tv news
young people
December 9, 2013

A New View


Tom: For one day – and one day only – last week, Emerson College in Boston changed the name of its school of communications to the Ron Burgundy School of Communications. Now, Keith, what is going on there?

Keith: Yeah, Tom. It was really just for fun, of course, because Ron Burgundy is the name of the news anchor in the movie Anchorman played by Will Ferrell. But his visit to Emerson sparked a serious discussion about where young people get their news.

It was an emotional moment for Ron Burgundy, played by actor Will Ferrell, as he was honored by Emerson’s communications school. But when asked about polls showing more and more young people get their news from comedians, like Comedy Central’s Daily Show, it seemed there is a generation gap between the anchorman and the students.

Will Ferrell: Well, I don’t know what Comedy Central is. I still read the paper and I get a lot of news from carrier pigeons.

Keith: A recent Pew Research Center poll shows that young people are the largest viewers of The Colbert Report and The Daily Show, two shows that treat news as satire, which means using humor to criticize politicians, the government and other news outlets. It can be funny stuff. But where young people get their news is no laughing matter.

Meghan Allis: Because it’s funny, they think it’s unbiased. And they don’t understand that satire is one of the biggest forms of bias.

Dan Blomquist: Our generation is still young. Young people tend to not take things as seriously. And so, when serious matters are presented in a comedic format, it’s easier for people to digest. And so that’s where they go.

Keith: Young people are also finding their news differently than in previous generations. For the majority of the country, TV is the most popular source of news, but not for young people. Seventy-one percent of 18-29 year olds say the internet is their main source of news. And a third of those under 30 get news on social networks. Nearly 8 in 10 young people say they graze the news during the day, meaning they check in on their news sources from time to time.

Emerson event attendee: Should people believe everything they hear on the news?

Ferrell: I think they should believe 71%.

Keith: So, does real news matter to young people? These students say it does.

Christabel Frye: I think people can distinguish the difference between comedy and news. News matters, yeah. And I think people know that.

Keith: Now we want to know what you think. Where do you get most of your news? Television, newspapers, radio, or internet? Head to to vote and leave a comment.

Tom: Well, it looks like Ron Burgundy is still keeping it classy. Thank you very much, Keith.


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