Publication Date

Spring 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Journalism and Mass Communications


Richard D. Craig


Colbert, Comedy, High School, Politics, Satire, Television

Subject Areas

Mass communication; Journalism; Secondary education


In this study, high school students were exposed to either a comedy or conventional television news editorial segment, and each video’s persuasive effect was compared with the other. The sample consisted of 271 high school students from Valley Christian High School in San Jose, CA, a majority of whom were juniors and seniors. Students were separated into sample groups; one group viewed a Colbert Report editorial and guest interview focused on the concept of net neutrality, while the other group viewed an All In with Chris Hayes editorial and guest interview focused on the same subject. Both sample groups were administered an online survey before and after viewing the video. These students interpreted conventional news as being more intelligent and dependable but less interesting and engaging. The students enjoyed the humor of satire but did not interpret it as being a respectable or trustworthy mode of receiving news information. Finally, the students viewed the media figures as either being knowledgeable and trustworthy or as being likeable; they did not view any of the media figures they saw in the video as having all three qualities. These results could be useful to those studying media effects, framing, and satire in the news. It could also apply to pedagogical studies of technology and media in the classroom.