‘Daily Show,’ ‘Colbert’ viewers most informed about news

By Steve Safran 

Despite all the new ways of getting news, The Atlantic Monthly (sub req.) reports that Americans don’t know appreciably more about current events than they did before 24/7 news became the norm. There is an exception: People who get their news from the web and viewers of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report know a lot more about the news. A Pew Research Center study found that Americans’ awareness of the U.S. government, current events and international affairs is pretty much the same as it was in 1989. However…

The most knowledgeable Americans were those who got their news from the Web sites of major papers and those who watched programs like The Colbert Report or The Daily Show; they correctly answered 54 percent of the questions about current affairs, while regular viewers of local TV news and network morning shows got only about 35 percent right.

Of course, there’s the question of cause and effect here: it’s possible Daily Show and Colbert watch those shows because they know more about the news – a prerequisite to understanding the jokes. Still, in case you think we pop culture junkies are wasting our brain cells – “Respondents who demonstrated a “high” knowledge of politics and world events were also adept at identifying celebrities such as Beyoncé Knowles.” (Thanks, LR alumnus Frank!)

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