Satirical Journalism is not a new concept. For years establishments like The Onion and The Daily Show have provided both laughs and a journalistic approach not seen often in the comedic world. With programs like Last Week Tonight, Mad As Hell, The Weekly and many more exploding onto our screens in the past few years, we are in something of a renaissance with Satirical Journalism. For many students looking to enter Journalism, satirical journalism may be our only former port of entry to the wider scope of journalism. But what about it appeals to them?
“It kind of plays on an issue in an engaging way, forcing people to think about it later,” says Riley Jones, a first year Journalism student who moonlights as a stand-up comedian. Zoe Robinson, a fellow Journalism student and a big fan of stand up comedy herself, also agrees; “Comedians such as Louis C.K. talk about these complex social issues but they’re almost hidden underneath these hysterical stories.”
However for some others, it is the message that can get through that is the driving appeal to satirical journalism. “Through both entertaining and informing the audience, satirical journalism has the capacity to captivate the audience and help change occur. Look at the movement only recently of John Oliver’s support. A huge portion of American audiences would trust his word more than that of the legacy media,” says Tom McGill, a first year Journalism student with a passion for films.
Naturally, Satirical Journalism isn’t all positives. “You could think you are the funniest person to ever walk the Earth but your readership thinks you are horrible,” says Lauren Mulhall, a journalism student who loves to make people laugh through performance. Comedy is a very subjective topic and this sentiment is also shared by Zoe Robinson: “The biggest issue, for me at least is not really being good enough at it. It is a matter of practice but you have to think, Will I ever be funny enough?” For others, it is the journalism form that is part of the issue. “People will often write it off before truly understanding the message behind it,” says Tom McGill.
Yet despite this, many students are still looking to get into the form as a career path. “Like most self-indulgent art students, I would like to write or star or produce a television series that does satirical news for Australian audiences, as I feel that is an untapped market for Australian youths,” quips Riley Jones. Tom McGill also shares a similar sentiment; “Preferably [something] on the ABC if it was in an Australian context as you are free to have a “voice” on that channel as it’s government funded, unlike the commercial channels that are primarily about appeasing the advertisers and sponsors.” For Lauren Mulhall, her goal is to emulate her idols Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. “I dream of writing television shows like Parks and Recreation or 30 Rock, or even for improvised skits like Saturday Night Live,” says Lauren. But for people like Zoe Robinson, the goal is much more simple. “I just want to be doing something that’s making people laugh… and also if I can become influential enough that I can be on an episode of conversations with Richard Fidlar. That’d be bitchin’.”