Today is a sad day. It marks the first of many that we’ll be without “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart.
Last night’s finale, as well as the public’s immense sadness following it, reminds us how critical Stewart was in changing the media landscape as we knew it before he joined the show in 1999.
Now full disclosure: I was 11 years old at that time. However, it’s undeniable that Stewart played a significant role in evolving consumer perceptions of not only politicians, but of media too.
This concept was evident in a 2014 study that found Americans were more likely to trust “The Daily Show” over MSNBC. And this was within a group of viewers, in which almost half (45%) held a college degree or higher, which meant he wasn’t appealing solely to a common denominator.
Pew Research also reported that 12% of Americans cited The Daily Show as a place they got their news, which was on par with USA Today (12%) and just behind Huffington Post (13%).
So why did he capture our hearts and minds?
- Stewart said what no one else would, or could. He didn’t draw a line where other news anchors had to and he sparked conversations with guests that weren’t appropriate for primetime airing. He carved out his own niche.
- The show became a hub for news blips and political flubs. These were things people talked about around the dinner table, but to air it on national news? That was a gamechanger for its time and quickly attracted a broad audience interested in both news and entertainment.
- Brands took a back seat to Stewart’s show, which meant viewers weren’t fed marketing messages from corporate sponsors. This helped set him apart from other late-night TV hosts. “The Daily Show” made this evident when Stewart recently took viewers through examples of his “non-sponsorship” moments.
In closing, I think we can all agree that Jon Stewart became a household name in comedic news. Will there be others like him? Sure. But it’ll be interesting to see if any of them cause such an impact on our news consumption like he did.