Broadcasting Rules are Killing Political Satire – Thank Heavens for the Internet

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Jonathan Pie/YouTube

Allaina Kilby, University of Nottingham

Political journalists, especially during elections, should provide balanced news coverage of parties and scrutinise each parties’ political agendas to help properly inform the public. Sadly this is an ideal that is all-too-rarely realised. The 2015 election was reported as a horse race, the EU referendum starved voters of the facts about Brexit and coverage of this year’s election campaign has been more about demonising Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn than in taking a close look at the rival parties’ policy platforms.

And, as ever, major parties are making it as hard as possible for the public to make an informed choice by adopting tightly controlled campaign strategies where they refrain from answering direct questions from journalists and engaging with voters.

These trends are problematic, because they can unfairly influence our understanding of political parties and their policies. Nevertheless, they are key ingredients for an atmosphere that is ripe for political satire. Satire, after all, attempts to focus on the unanswered questions and clarify the underlying morality of the political landscape. It’s a practice that American TV satire has capitalised on over the past 17 years thanks to the rise of professionalised politics and a highly partisan media. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, for example, left a legacy of engaging political critique now adopted by shows such as Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and Sam Bee’s Full Frontal. Read more

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