Late-night comedy as a gateway to traditional news: An analysis of time trends in news attention among late-night comedy viewers during the 2004 presidential primaries

Lauren Feldman, Dannagal Goldthwaite Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations

Abstract

Recent reports published by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press (2000, 2004) propose that young audiences are abandoning traditional news as a source of election information in favor of late-night comedy programs. However, additional evidence (Young and Tisinger, 2006) suggests that exposure to late-night comedy programming is positively correlated with traditional news exposure. This study extends this body of research by offering evidence that exposure to late-night comedy is associated with increases in attention paid to the presidential campaign in national network and cable news. The analysis uses data collected via the National Annenberg Election Survey during the 2004 presidential primary season, between October 30, 2003, and June 4, 2004. Cross-sectional results demonstrate that viewers of late-night comedy programs-specifically viewers of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and The Late Show with David Letterman, as well as Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart-pay more attention to the campaign in national network and cable news than nonviewers, controlling for a variety of factors. An analysis of time trends also reveals that the rate of increase in news attention over the course of the primary season is greater for viewers of Leno or Letterman than for those who do not watch any late-night comedy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)401-422
Number of pages22
JournalPolitical Communication
Volume25
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2008
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science

Keywords

  • Gateway hypothesis
  • Late-night comedy
  • News attraction
  • Satire

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