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Satire and Comedy informs better than traditional news

By Steve Benyon,

I start everyday with MSNBC's Morning Joe and The Daily Rundown with Jose Diaz-Balart. I have my morning coffee and read The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Chicago Tribune. Throughout my work day I have my Twitter feed open where I follow journalists from every major publication and the major news outlets themselves. I come home and have Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow on in the background while checking in on O'Reilly and Hannity once in awhile.

I'm a big fan of comedy news shows. I never miss an episode of The Nightly Show or Real Time with Bill Maher. I've also been watching The Daily Show consistently for ten years. Jon Stewart is how I found my love for the news and why I'm here right now.

I'm certainly not the most informed person in the world, but I do see a lot of the news media. It was striking to hear the news that Jon Stewart is leaving The Daily Show. Without any announcements of what project he's moving to next, it's too soon to grieve for losing Stewart. But nonetheless I'm incredibly bummed out that TV is losing one of its best sources of information.

Yes, a 30 minute Comedy Central satirical program is probably the best bang for your buck news out there right now. If you allot a person 30 minutes of time to gather news in a day, The Daily Show is likely their best option.

Your other choices include any given MSNBC program about national news where they have spent the last three weeks on non-stop snow coverage on places I don't live in. What's less national than the weather anyway?

You got CNN where Wolf Blitzer reports live from the holodeck everyday. Did they ever find that plane? And of course Fox News, where Megyn Kelly is the only woman allowed to wear pants and every breaking news story is something to do with King Obama's tyranny. My favorite drinking game: Take a shot for every time Benghazi is mentioned on Fox. Yes, that's somehow still a thing for them.

The biggest mistake any news consumer can make is only using a few sources for gathering information. No single source has a full story. The Daily Show is ultimately filled with gags and serves as a much needed watchdog for a news media run-a-muck, but it still informs better than any other cable program.

Jon Stewart and his crew never aimed for The Daily Show to replace the front page of The New York Times. But everyone has to admit that with the comedy-first mission, The Daily Show never fails to bring the most important event of the day front and center. I'm also consistently impressed with their field reports that are always relevant, funny and informative. Jessica Williams' report on rape culture on college campuses is some of the best reporting I've seen on the subject.

In 2012, Fairleigh Dickinson University interviewed 1,185 random people nationwide about events in both the U.S. and abroad, they were also asked what news sources they consumed that week. The Daily Show's audience was found to be the second most informed, just behind NPR. The study found Fox viewers were less informed than people who consumed no news and that MSNBC viewers were only slightly more informed than folks that don't watch news.

PEW also did a survey asking people about their political knowledge. The goal of the study was to find the percent of people who knew things such as who their governor is, which party controlled the House, who Tom Foley is and six other political questions. Their findings were similar. The Daily Show's audience tied first place with major newspapers as the most informed. Fox News and Network Morning Shows were the least informed.

Most news shows are biased toward sensationalism and laziness. It's too common for these organizations to relentlessly pursue an activist or commercial agenda. Or in Fox's case, just being a propaganda delivery system. Not all traditional news outlets are terrible, but none of them are trustworthy enough.

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Journalism is the fourth estate; it's the only civilian profession mentioned in the constitution and journalists are public servants. It's too clear that if you want to make money in this business, you have to tell people what they want to hear. Glenn Beck made over $90 million in 2013. People want the echochamber. What comedy can do is disarm you and inform you on the truth under that protection of the comedy label.

TV news is just mostly entertainment. The comedy giants Jon Stewart, Bill Maher and John Oliver are upfront with it being entertainment, yet I walk away from their shows with new perspectives and information far more often than anything strictly labeled news.

Traditional news media has largely failed the American public. What these comedy shows do is present the important events in a fun way without wasting the viewer's time with partisan nonsense, blizzard coverage and missing airplanes.