Self-Regulation: How the Media Watches Itself
Self-Regulation: How the Media Watches Itself

A free media is by definition decentralized.  While lacking a central authority that pre-approves content and still needing to rectifying mistakes—omissions or distortions—a free media resolves this paradox by acting as a self-regulator.  Specifically, media content itself can be analyzed by others within the media, leaving the final judgment up to the viewers.  Self-regulation is important because anyone in the media is capable of conveying bias; in lieu of restricting content, a free media would be capable of “policing” itself.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart – Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is a parody news program that makes its mark by satirizing contemporary political issues, cultural fads and the media itself.  One famous instance of the latter was the March 12, 2009 episode featuring guest Jim Cramer, the host of the CNBC show Mad Money.  During the episode, the global financial and economic crisis of 2007-2009 was in full effect, and Jon Stewart—eponymous host of the show—claimed that CNBC shirked its public responsibility by simply relaying information fed to it by corporations as opposed to being more investigative:

Entertainment: 20/20 “Simpsons” – Friday, March 8, 2002

What’s entertaining to one person can be boring to another, offensive to still another.  Entertainment can alleviate boredom and relieve stress.  It can also serve as a reflection of society.

On Friday evening, March 8, 2002, the American television news-magazine 20/20 did an expose on The Simpsons, the animated television sitcom and one of the most popular series of all time.  A 20/20 reporter asked one of the show’s creators, George Meyer, “Is there a purpose to The Simpsons?” (Turner, 2004).   Replied Meyer, “If there is, it’s to get people to re-examine their world, and specifically the authority figures in their world” (Turner, 2004).  Eventually, the show went to a commercial break with a teaser.

What role has The Simpsons played other than that of entertainment?  What role has the show played as a purveyor of American culture throughout the world?  Do you think this is mostly positive or negative?  Do you think that the show will still be “entertaining” in the future?  Provide examples of older entertainment that still has mass appeal today.


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