Television in a Post Broadcast Era


The accountability of broadcast media is paramount. Jon Stewart and his Show, “Daily Show” seeks to emphasize accountability in journalism. This is in line with the principles in journalism that requires media and media practitioners to be accountable to the public. The provisions in The First Amendment curtail the government’s ability to enforce media to be accountable for what it broadcasts. The Show by Jon Stewart tries to enhance media accountability through four different ways. The first Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” (Painter & Hodges 2010, p. 258).

It is imperative to note how other professional disciplines like medicine are held accountable for their actions. This should be applied to the media. You find that a physician can be summoned to explain his or her subscription for an ailment, and when proved culpable for misconduct may be punished by the government upon recommendations from the Physician’s board of inquiry. This suggests that the media must also establish a way of self-regulating to ensure accountability in broadcast. Journalists are protected from professional regulation by the “Free exercise clauses in the first amendment.” This lack of accountability in journalism have prompted various democracies to establish bodies like press councils, Op-Ed pages, code of ethics, Ombudsmen, Journalism reviews, public  and civic journalism initiatives, and media critics like the case of Jon Stewart’s Daily Show, to hold media outlets accountable to what they broadcast (Painter & Hodges 2010, p. 258).

Jon Stewart’s Daily Show seeks to regulate to enhance accountability in the news media by interrogating the content that is broadcasted to the public. Jon Stewart uses humor and jokes to provide a counterbalance in the media reporting by the staid traditional news reporter. The show indicates that journalism involves role-playing, just as Stewart plays the real reporter’s role in his show. He employs press satire to critic media. These includes That Was the Week That Was by David Frost; Saturday Night Live show called the Weekend Update, and Murphy Brown. Film examples are also included in the Stewart’s show like Anchorman and Network (Painter & Hodges 2010, p. 259).

It is imperative to note the significance of comedy employed by Stewart to critic media. This approach enhances accountability of the media broadcaster’s to the public. He uses laughter to point out significant issues in journalism. Stewart seeks to enhance accountability of the media by ensuring that journalism gives room to democracy that created it. The humor gives a clear view to the public of what journalism entails. Stewart also puts it clear to the public the editing and creation of news and stories.

Jon Stewart’s Daily Show also suggests the manner in which a media outlet can help bring other media outlets to be accountable to the public. Most people in the field of journalism have argued that objectivity is too demanding for the journalist. For this reason, they have often referred to objectivity as a myth that cannot be questioned but can only be written about.  Similarly, the scholars from this school of thought have argued that even if it were possible to practice objectivity in journalism, it would be too undesirable since it confine the writers to a restricted format. It does not give a chance for the person critical and creative thinking in the presentation of data.  For this reason, they have argued that objectivity encourages superficial reporting of official facts thus the final presentation by the journalists, fails to provide the readers with analysis and proper interpretation.  It ignores the functions of the press, which revolve around commenting, campaigning and acting as a public watchdog.  From this school of thought, it is also argued that objectivity in journalism restricts the freedom press.  It restricts the ability people to share out there opinions and points of views about ideologies.


Painter, C & Hodges, L 2010, “Mocking the News: How The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Holds Traditional Broadcast News Accountable,” Journal of Mass Media Ethics, vol. 25, pp. 257–274.


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