There are so many headlines I could have given this post, but from past experience if you put “The Daily Show” into a your blog you will get hits. The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press released its biannually media consumption survey. There’s a lot of interesting nuggets of data in it. (I promise I will get to the part about The Daily Show in a minute).
First off, ask yourself, without using google, can you:
- Can you tell me the name of the current U.S. Secretary of State?
- Say who is the current prime minister of Great Britain?
a. Gordon Brown
b. Rupert Murdoch
c. Robert Gates
d. John Howard
- Happen to know which political party has a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives?
So want to know how well the public answered those questions? Only 18% could correctly answer all three. That was the national average. Pew then breaks it down by viewers of certain shows.
You can see the full chart here but (to justify using the title on this post):
The Colbert Report and The Daily Show are notable for having relatively well-informed audiences that are younger than the national average: 34% of regular Colbert viewers answered the three political knowledge questions correctly, as did 30% of regular Daily Show viewers. Less than a quarter of either audience is older than 50 (22% Colbert, 23% Daily Show), compared with 41% of the general public.I’ve often thought The Colbert Report is a tad more cerebral than The Daily Show. (Oh and the other late-night comics Leno/Letterman, only 20% of their audience could answer all three correctly.)
But in any case there’s a lot of other interesting data. I’m very surprised about the breakdown of audiences by gender. (Plus I’m always curious if Nielsen gets the same ratios of male verses female viewership).
There is exactly even split between men and women in reading daily newspapers, watching CNN, news magazines (like Time and Newsweek) and even the Sunday News Talk shows. Surprisingly slightly more women than men watch Fox News. (Also MSNBC, and CNBC???)
But there are a number of shows and types of shows that are majority male. Rush Limbaugh, the ratio wasn’t even close, 72% of his audience is male. Ladies favor Colbert over Stewart by four percentage points. The Daily Show audience is 66% male and The Colbert Report is 62%.
I don’t have an answer why The Daily Show skews so heavily male but perhaps their lack of female correspondents could be an answer. Also Jon can sometimes get a little frat-boyish when talking about women politicians like Pelosi and Hillary Clinton. I have also heard, through a grapevine that his writing room is way more machismo than Colbert’s. It’s not quite Saturday Night Live, but that’s kind of flavor (meaning if you’re not a white dude who fits in, you don’t fit in.) Stephen Colbert seems to run a slightly different type of room and has more women writers.