Is The Daily Show Reinventing Television?

from the or-something-like-that dept

Wired Magazine is running a short, but amusing, interview with Jon Stewart and Ben Karlin (the producer of The Daily Show) while trying to suggest that they’re “reinventing television.” That’s a bit of a stretch, and clearly the two guys agree. However, their general attitudes towards the relationship between the TV show and the online audience is at least a bit refreshing compared to the way some other TV execs react to the concept of file sharing (though, evidence suggests that more TV execs are recognizing how file sharing can help). But mixed in with the jokes are a few somewhat insightful comments. Karlin notes that: “If people want to take the show in various forms, I’d say go. But when you’re a part of something successful and meaningful, the rule book says don’t try to analyze it too much or dissect it…. The one thing that you have control over is the content of the show. But how people are reacting to it, how it’s being shared, how it’s being discussed, all that other stuff, is absolutely beyond your ability to control.” Which is, basically, recognizing the inevitable — which leads to embracing it, rather than wasting time and money fighting it. However, the claim that they’re “reinventing television” goes a bit far. As amusing a show as The Daily Show is, it’s still a broadcast show, and Stewart misses the real benefit of the internet when he notes: “I look at systems like the Internet as a convenience. I look at it as the same as cable or anything else. Everything is geared toward more individualized consumption. Getting it off the Internet is no different than getting it off TV.” That’s a start, in that it avoids anyone sending out lawyers, but it misses out on how the internet allows for more than just “consumption” to interactivity. It isn’t just that people are watching the show online, but that they’re sharing it with others, telling their friends about it, adding commentary and interacting based on the show itself. That’s where the internet goes much further than TV — and where this article falls short. No one expects the people behind The Daily Show to understand all those things, but there’s no reason for the reporter to make this suggestion of “reinventing TV” when it doesn’t seem like that’s what’s really happening.

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