It has often been said that “The Daily Show” is the major source of news for many Americans, but a recent study found the comedy program to be just as informative as nightly news broadcasts. The only difference: While Jon Stewart and Co. dilute the news with humor, the networks fill their broadcasts with hype.

Partial transcript from On the Media:

BOB GARFIELD: As we consider the media coverage of election 2006, we might consider the coverage of the election in 2004. That’s what Indiana University assistant professor Julia Fox and her students did. And, after developing criteria that distinguished real information from fluff, she went about quantifying exactly how much hard news was communicated per story in the nightly news broadcasts compared with Comedy Central’s Daily Show. What she found was roughly the same level of serious content across the board. But, as Adam Ragusea reports, she did find one small difference.

ADAM RAGUSEA: The only difference was that where the Daily Show’s information was diluted with humor, network news was equally diluted with hype.

JULIA FOX: So for people who are worried about, you know, the growing reliance on the Daily Show as a source of news, it’s at least as substantive as the source that people have relied on for decades. On the other hand, neither one of them are particularly substantive in an absolute sense. So I think that should give pause to people who are relying on either of those sources.


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