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Drawing Lines in the Journalistic Sand: Jon Stewart, Edward R. Murrow and Memory of News Gone Bye
Unformatted Document Text:  Drawing Lines in the Journalistic Sand 11 Analysis This study began with the premise that the Times’ endorsement of the Stewart-Murrow comparison was far from a neutral assertion, instead representing an opportunity for both the Times and other news media to publicly adjust the boundaries of their status in society. For the Times – a news organization depicted as the medium of record – support for Stewart’s effort to sway legislators can be interpreted as a way of moving their boundary status back to where it should have been when the rescue worker relief stalemate first surfaced. By allowing Stewart to highlight this issue, the Times could be seen to have missed an obligation for socially important coverage. When the Times wrote about Stewart’s effort, however, they connected themselves to what he had done. That is, by covering coverage, the Times could be viewed as covering the news itself, gaining a coat-tails effect of sorts. It would also regain its status as a member-in- good-standing within its local sphere of influence: Though he might prefer a description like “advocacy satire,” what Mr. Stewart engaged in that night – and on earlier occasions when he campaigned openly for passage of the bill – usually goes by the name “advocacy journalism.” (Carter & Stelter, 2010) Likewise, the Times drew on its frequently quoted popular culture expert to make a collective memory connection to the glory days of broadcast news, suggesting that the dream is still alive: “I have to think about how many kids are watching Jon Stewart right now and dreaming of growing up and doing what Jon Stewart does,” Mr. Thompson said. “Just like kids two generations ago watched Murrow or Cronkite and dreamed of doing that. Some of these ambitious appetites and callings that have brought people into journalism in the past may now manifest themselves in these other arenas, like comedy.” From there, other forms of online media could respond to the Times’ story in a way that either brought them into the same fold or offered a boundary distinction that placed their organization in their preferred location. In other words, the Times’ endorsement of the Stewart- Murrow comparison bore multiple meanings, depending upon how a news organization could

Authors: Berkowitz, Dan. and Gutsche Jr, Robert.
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Drawing Lines in the Journalistic Sand   
11 
Analysis 
This study began with the premise that the Times’ endorsement of the Stewart-Murrow 
comparison was far from a neutral assertion, instead representing an opportunity for both the 
Times and other news media to publicly adjust the boundaries of their status in society. For the 
Times – a news organization depicted as the medium of record – support for Stewart’s effort to 
sway legislators can be interpreted as a way of moving their boundary status back to where it 
should have been when the rescue worker relief stalemate first surfaced. By allowing Stewart to 
highlight this issue, the Times could be seen to have missed an obligation for socially important 
coverage. When the Times wrote about Stewart’s effort, however, they connected themselves to 
what he had done. That is, by covering coverage, the Times could be viewed as covering the 
news itself, gaining a coat-tails effect of sorts. It would also regain its status as a member-in-
good-standing within its local sphere of influence: 
Though he might prefer a description like “advocacy satire,” what Mr. Stewart engaged 
in that night – and on earlier occasions when he campaigned openly for passage of the 
bill – usually goes by the name “advocacy journalism.” (Carter & Stelter, 2010) 
Likewise, the Times drew on its frequently quoted popular culture expert to make a 
collective memory connection to the glory days of broadcast news, suggesting that the dream is 
still alive: 
“I have to think about how many kids are watching Jon Stewart right now and dreaming 
of growing up and doing what Jon Stewart does,” Mr. Thompson said. “Just like kids two 
generations ago watched Murrow or Cronkite and dreamed of doing that. Some of these 
ambitious appetites and callings that have brought people into journalism in the past may 
now manifest themselves in these other arenas, like comedy.” 
From there, other forms of online media could respond to the Times’ story in a way 
that either brought them into the same fold or offered a boundary distinction that placed their 
organization in their preferred location. In other words, the Times’ endorsement of the Stewart-
Murrow comparison bore multiple meanings, depending upon how a news organization could 


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