English 1000 Library Sourcepack:
"Truthiness" in the Colbert Report
Instructor: Penny Smith-Parris
#1 Tate Hall, MU English Department
Office phone (573) 882-0681
Stephan Colbert, host of Comedy Centralâ€™s Colbert Report is credited with coining the neologism â€œtruthiness,â€ describing the gut-feeling that one is right, without the support of logic or reason. The Colbert Report, touted by Comedy Central as being â€œWhat The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is to evening news, The Colbert Report is to personality-driven pundit shows,â€ openly satirizes television pundits such as Bill Oâ€™Reilly and Sean Hannity, who have often been accused of â€œspinâ€ by their detractors.
In this paper, you are to develop a thesis that addresses the issue of â€œtruthiness.â€ Consider how truth is constructed/revealed through different lenses. What can be verified as â€œfact"? What is â€œspinâ€? Is there some â€œtruthâ€ that is appealed to through Colbertâ€™s irony? What is this foundation? Your primary focus should be on Colbertâ€™s â€œtruthâ€ spin of the real world news, though you will find it helpful to counterbalance your argument against at least one other straightforward pundit show. For this, you may choose among any of the pundits currently on major national networks, including Bill Oâ€™Reilly, Sean Hannity, John Scarborough, Chris Matthews, etc. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list; if there is someone you have in mind who is not included here, please feel free to ask your instructor [though please remember s/he should be a pundit, not a journalist].
If you wish you may consult our page titled Distinguishing Between Scholarly and Popular Publications.
Tips for Internet Research
EVALUATE EACH WEBSITE FOR SUITABILITY AS A RESEARCH SOURCE
- Authority: Who wrote this? Do they have credentials or a reputation in the field? Should I be using them as a source of information?
- Content: Is the information relevant? Is this information current enough? Is the information accurate? Is there documentation or evidence?
- Purpose: Why was this page made? Is there a bias or an agenda? Who is the audience?
WEB TOOLS (THINK CRITICALLY BEFORE USING THEM)
- Google : Think about the type of site you need (.edu, .org, .gov) and use the advanced search feature to limit to that domain. Through Google, you can find the Comedy Channel link and read the birth of truthiness.
- Google Scholar : Using the proxied link from the library web page will allow you to access all content licensed by MU. For practice, search the terms â€œStephen Colbertâ€ AND irony. Open the article: Relief in Hard Times: A Defense of Jon Stewart's Comedy in an Age of Cynicism. Save the article to your desktop and email it to yourself as an attachment.
- Wikipedia : Online encyclopedia, good place to get ideas â€“ sources are not necessarily authoritative.
Suggestions for Library Research
MU LIBRARIES GATEWAY
- To understand and provide context for your topic, look for books and articles that provide general information about it.
- Think of questions that might help guide your search. (What is truthiness? How is it different from truth? Who are pundits? How do they differ from journalists? What is spin? How does it differ from news? What is irony? What is satire? Is Stephen Colbertâ€™s humor either irony or satire?
- Brainstorm and build a list of concept terms and their synonyms, which can be used as keyword search terms. Examples: truth, fact, spin, public relations, politics, news, media, journalism, pundit, journalist, irony, satire, fake news, etc.
- Refer to the guide Basic Research in Ellis Library to help you with your research.
FIND BOOKS THROUGH MERLIN
- Search by title, if you know the title of the book.
- If you want to find books on a particular topic:
- Think of a â€œperfectâ€ title using key concepts, and then use those concepts in a keyword search.
- Use AND between keywords if you want to find a book title with more than one concept (truth and news).
- Use OR between keywords if you want to find a book with either concept (news OR media).
- There are several ways to limit or filter your search if the list of books returned is too long. Choose â€œAdvanced Searchâ€ and limit by date, location, material type etc.
- If MU Libraries does not have a book that fits your needs, search the Mobius catalog to see if any other Missouri library has something you want. You may request an item from a Mobius linked school, which will arrive in 2-10 days.
FIND ARTICLES, REVIEWS AND MORE THROUGH LIBRARY DATABASES
- Access all online databases from the MU Library Gateway
- Academic Search Premier is a good â€œgeneralâ€ database covering all subjects.
- Enter the terms truth and spin
- Narrow to â€œacademic journalsâ€
- Choose a good article and add it to your â€œfolder.â€
- New Search: irony and comedy and theory
- Add the article: Comedy Theory and the Postmodern to the folder.
- Open the folder and email the articles to yourself. Choose the citation style recommended by your instructor.
- Try some other databases...
- Communication and Mass Media Complete
This database covers communication, mass media, news and public relations.
- Search terms: Colbert
- Refine search to include: Colbert and Oâ€™Reilly and truthiness
- Choose the article.
- Email it to yourself. (Donâ€™t forget to choose the appropriate â€œstyleâ€ before emailing)
Factiva offers full text for articles found in newspapers and magazines and includes transcripts from other news sources (radio, television, etc.) Try Factiva for transcripts of â€œpunditâ€ television shows.
- Choose: â€œsourceâ€ (click the + sign to the left of source)
- Choose: â€œtranscriptsâ€ from the drop-down menu
- Choose: Fox News: The Oâ€™Reilly Factor or Fox News: Hannityâ€™s America
- Search: truth and evil
- Browse transcripts
- Email articles to yourself
Citing your Sources
Attribution, citing resources, and avoiding plagiarism is vital to good scholarship. These citation manuals and guides are available in Ellis Library and on the MU Librariesâ€™ website.
- Ellis Library Citing Sources
- Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association
5th edition BF 76.7 P83 2001 MU Ellis Ready Reference
- MLA handbook for writers of research papers
6th edition LB 2369 G53 2003 MU Ellis Ready Reference
- M-BOOK -- Academic Dishonesty (University of Missouri)
- Plagiarism (Indiana University)
If you use articles you obtained in full-text version directly from a library database, the citation protocol will be different than if you had found the article in paper copy in the library.