Friday, October 19, 2007

CRIKEY: Why bagging The Chaser is bad policy

While the pollies and the tabloids have been going nuts over the ABC Chaser team’s celebrity obituary song, it seems the voters (or at least the viewers) couldn’t give a dead rat’s Channel-10-newsreader’s-husband.

When I last checked, some 74% of voters surveyed by News Limited didn’t find the song offensive. Now I know these polls are notoriously inaccurate, but they do illustrate that even tabloid readers are capable of seeing through a beat-up. And good on News Limited for reporting this fact.

What young voters might find offensive is politicians bagging one of their main election resources. On SBS's Insight recently, Jenny Brockie found a large number of young people get their information on politics from shows like The Chaser. Here’s an excerpt:

JENNY BROCKIE: … And I'm interested in how some of you are getting your information in the run-up to this election. Mitch Gray, you're 18, you're voting for the first time. Tell me how you found out about APEC?

MITCH GRAY: 'Chaser'. I subscribe to it by iTunes. I didn't know anything about it until I watched 'Chaser' and for me all you hear about it was in the news, in the papers, how they shut off the whole Sydney CBD centre and you watched 'Chaser' jump out of the cars, chuck a couple of Canadian flags in, got all the way in, thought, "Well, we can't keep going," turned around, and you think about that, security-wise, it just, it's sort of a bit disheartening.

JENNY BROCKIE: Alright, so that became a major source of information for you, a satire program.

MITCH GRAY: Yeah, you always hear them paying out Rudd, Howard, you know, channel companies, because their policies are wrong or they're bad and they test-drive and things like that. That's where I get all my political information from.

JENNY BROCKIE: Do people get their information from comedy? Yeah, how many of you? Yeah, Doug.

DOUG GAUL: Basically from the 'Chaser' as well and whatever I catch. I watch a little bit of news and, um, basically I just think that youth's exposure to politics is very minimal as you grow up. I think a lot of it has to do with the way that you grow up at home. There's not a lot at school so basically it's what you take on yourself and what your parents show you.

These results aren't surprising. In the US, a number of studies have shown that young news consumers get much of their info from The Daily Show With Jon Stewart. Howard and Rudd should remember that before they lash out on The Chaser as they did yesterday -- and this morning.

First published in the Crikey daily alert on 19 October 2007.

Words © 2008 Irfan Yusuf