The Digital Journalist
October 2004

by Beverly Spicer

With only a few more days until the elections, most of us are sitting on the edge of our seats trying to determine which way our collective fate will be cast for the next fours years. This is the most heated and intense political season in memory, and along with it has come great opportunity for humor and commentary. While mudslinging rips us to shreds, humor puts us back together again, reminding us that in spite of it all, there is much to laugh about. Artists, journalists and spinmeisters have emerged in droves using the medium of cyberspace to do everything from poking fun at the candidates and party politics to promulgating serious propaganda. Several times a day I receive an article, cartoon or Web link that's guaranteed either to keep the fire burning under simmering disgust or offer comic relief. Almost everyone with a computer can now watch video clips by downloading or video streaming, and it's not unusual to stream live radio or TV broadcasts on your desktop while you write, surf, or E-mail.

In my quest for more of The Daily Show recently, I soon realized one can watch countless online videos of anchorman/host Jon Stewart and his madcap correspondents spoofing the news in every way imaginable, to the heart's content. If you're in need to laugh instead of cry, I highly recommend visiting Comedy Central's site for short, entertaining excerpts from The Daily Show, guaranteed to make you chuckle. Stewart interviews democrats, republicans and persons of no political persuasion alike, and satirizes them all-has he talked to Ralph Nader? Here are a few recent headliners and news items, plus games to relieve your boredom and inform at the same time. Search the site for the topic of your choice by clicking on the image of Jon Stewart, or take a look at recent clips we've selected for you to sample, described below.

Jon Stewart and his news analysts consider the presidential debates, undecided voters, the media itself, and the war in Iraq. Correspondent Stephen Colbert gives in-depth coverage of the "Squabble in Coral Gables" in "Debate or Thunderdome?" Samantha Bee talks to voters who are still on the fence in "The Undecided," and Stewart scrutinizes journalists in "The Media at Large." In an ongoing serial analysis, "MessO'Potamia" summarizes just how things really stand in the Middle East, and Desmond Tutu makes an endearing guest appearance in an interview by host Stewart.

The Daily Show's "Indecision 2004" also offers the quizzes "Boy, Do I Know Bush!" and "Boy, Do I Know Kerry!' and a charming game of revenge called "Karl Rove's White House Whack 'Em."

Check out the not-so-distant -future of privacy envisioned by the video "Pizza Palace," where ordering a pizza becomes an act under scrutiny and control by highly coordinated files of personal information, accessible even to the pizza delivery store. "We just got wired into the system, Sir," says the operator.

Finally, you won't want to miss a creative reporting of presidential slips-of-the-tongue, an affectionately satirical look at everybody's favorite, whacked-out, down-to-earth elocutionist . The clip is actually a trailer for the video "George W. Bushisms," produced by Austin attorney Elizabeth Reeder, hosted by Brian Unger, featuring guests Al Franken and Jacob Weisberg, artwork by Garry Trudeau, animation by Chris "Sketchboy" Routly, and music videos from "The George W. Bush Singers."

See you in November. And no matter which electronic buttons you intend to push, don't forget to VOTE!


It's that bull again! Finally, after presenting it two issues ago, we have the name of the photographer who got this magnificent shot of a bull running in Pamplona. And we hear the image-hunter is alive and well and lived to shoot another day. Congratulations to Reuters photographer Desmond Boylan for an unforgettable image, and thanks to John Schults for identifying him for us.

© Beverly Spicer

Beverly Spicer is a writer, photojournalist, and cartoonist, who faithfully chronicled The International Photo Congresses in Rockport, Maine, from 1987 to 1991. Her book, THE KA'BAH: RHYTHMS OF CULTURE, FAITH AND PHYSIOLOGY, was published in 2003 by University Press of America. She lives in Austin.