No Laughing Matter: The Power of Cyberspace to Subvert Conventional Media Gatekeepers

John Carr


This article uses Jon Stewart’s October 15, 2004, appearance on the U.S. program Crossfire and Stephen Colbert’s April 29, 2006, speech at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner to illustrate how the diffused nature of cyberspace enables Internet users to promulgate news stories. This allows users to drive mainstream media gatekeepers to engage in what is described as “forced reflexivity,” covering critiques of their own complicity in media hegemony. In each case, a prominent comedian offered an in-person critique of members of the mainstream media in a newsworthy context, arguing that the media had been complicit in the machinations of Washington politicians. And in each case, subsequent Internet dissemination of video clips of these appearances circumvented traditional media gatekeepers while forcing them to cover those critiques.

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