Lessons Journalists Can Learn from Jon Stewart

Jon Stewart might have gotten his start in comedy, but his work on The Daily Show made him a trustworthy source for news. He became one of the most rational-sounding voices in television.

Stewart always kept some humor about the news and its analysis. He was also never afraid to take a tough stance when there was a clear line between right and wrong. His crew was never scared to satirize spin, belittle, bombast, and call out the blatant hypocrisy of politicians, journalists, or the average person on the street.

When Stewart was the face of The Daily Show, its website told people that the program had an anchor, five correspondents, and no credibility. It never pretended to have integrity or accuracy, but the information that the team provided always seemed to be closer to the truth.

The Best Lesson is to Stop Taking Yourself Seriously

A journalist is there to report the news. People don’t want opinions or thoughts. They want to know what is happening in their community, country, and the rest of the world.

That is only the first lesson. Here are a few more.

1. News is a Choice

A 24-hour news industry means that multiple networks have tons of information to find for people to consume. It is up to each person to choose what they want to see or hear.

2. You Don’t Need to Present Both Sides

Donald Trump is a polarizing figure because he attempts to cater to all sides while still trying to offer a moral foundation. There are some incidents when “very fine people” aren’t on both sides. Sometimes, no one falls into that category. Instead of trying to show everything, journalists can walk away from the idea of false balance.

3. Walk Away From the Commercialism

The people who pay the piper are the ones that dictate the message. Advertisers leverage their influence on news organizations all of the time by pulling their funding when a story or viewpoint comes out that they don’t like. If you want to focus on the news as a journalist, you can’t be in a position to be bought.

4. Honesty is Always the Best Policy

Being a journalist doesn’t mean that you try to make yourself look good. The goal is to convey a specific story to others that you care about in some way. When what you’re reporting on seems dull or boring, that message gets conveyed to everyone else.

Jon Stewart learned that sometimes you must stand up for what is right – no matter what the consequences are afterward. Today’s journalists should learn to do the same.