Last Week Tonight, journalism John Oliver exposes news media
Last Week Tonight, journalism John Oliver exposes news media. Image credit: HBO

The British comedian John Oliver dedicated his weekly signature segment on Last Week Tonight to shed light on the issue of newspapers and the overall decaying state of journalism field this past Sunday, August 7.

Oliver praised the work of newspaper reporters by turning no further than to his own show. “Last Week Tonight” is a weekly variety show dedicated mainly to the most important news locally and globally, which includes a long-format investigative piece centered on a particular issue. Naturally, the primary sources for the show’s spots are mostly print media.

Last Sunday’s segment provided further evidence by showing clips from other news shows, namely snippets from various CNN reporters citing print sources on their reports. Despite the abundant evidence proving that physical media is the prime source for most (if not all) media, the ongoing transformation of the journalism industry has taken its toll on reporters and content alike.

John Oliver says modern journalism is just “Clickbait” 

Ever since its premiere back in April 2014, “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” has been the spiritual successor of shows like “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and “The Colbert Report”, both of which followed a similar format and were fresh takes on variety opinion shows.

Last night’s long-format segment was just that, as John Oliver addressed the evolution of journalism into the “clickbait”-based mayhem that is today. The former “Daily Show” correspondent claimed that since the dawn of the digital era in the mid-90s, more and more print news outlets had either shut down entirely or shifted from their original approach to journalism.

Moreover, the consequences of this process translate into budget cuts, staff reductions, uncovered news, and downright meaningless and mindless “news” coverage.

While some outlets have survived by adapting to the digital world, the revenue for ads is just not as good as physical newspaper sales, forcing reporters not only to produce more content but also to do so in an appealing way for mass audiences.

While arguably shows like John Oliver’s are part of the problem for deviating from traditional news reporting, the HBO show serves as a source of information for, otherwise unknown, issues that reach a significant audience worldwide.

Last Week Tonight: Journalism already has 3 million views on YouTube

Reporters from several print publications praised the piece by the British host, which enlisted the help from actors Jason Sudeikis, Bobby Cannavale and Rose Byrne to end the segment with a parody based on the Academy Award-winning film “Spotlight”.

Oliver twisted the knife even further with the spoof titled “Stoplight”, which depicts a setting similar to the one in the movie, only with a slight difference: the passionate reporter is up against a whole team of seemingly alienated coworkers and editors, all of whom are solely interested in clicks and revenue.

Source: The Wall Street Journal