Jester, Fake Journalist, or the New Walter Lippmann? Recognition Processes of Jon Stewart by the U.S. Journalistic Community

Keren Tenenboim-Weinblatt


How does the journalistic community negotiate its identity, boundaries, and authority in relation to individuals and cultural forms that challenge the definitions of who is a journalist and what constitutes journalism? And how does it do so against the background of a growing academic validation of these alternative news venues? This study focuses on the figure of Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and on the stages and strategies by which Stewart was embedded into mainstream journalistic discourse, and in which journalists negotiated Stewart’s definition, authority, and position vis-à-vis the U.S. journalistic community. By examining the journalistic discourse over a period of nine years and adopting a cultural, inter-textual, process-oriented approach, the paper seeks to go beyond the framework of “paradigm repair,” attempting to account for journalism’s changing identity and boundaries, while paying particular attention to the ways in which those boundaries are shaped by a complex interplay among different players within, on, and outside the margins of the journalistic community. The paper also suggests that Stewart’s relatively successful co-optation was due to a fit between the normative and epistemological assumptions of three central players — the journalistic community, political communication scholars, and Stewart himself.

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