After two weeks of political discourse featuring the RNC and DNC, Oliver focuses on the biggest stage of them all – the Summer Olympics. In this week’s main story, the ace ‘not-a-journalist Oliver’ investigates the state of local newspapers and its effect on journalism.  

Tonga shines as brightly as the flame

The much-awaited Olympic Games kicked off in Rio this past week, as the world came together to participate in its stunning opening ceremonies.

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Oliver focused on the coverage of the games in the United States, and the often inappropriate behavior displayed by news anchors.

The hosts of the Today Show kicked off the absurdity by giving a eulogy-toned introduction to many of the countries during their introduction to the games. Turkey, France, Nepal, Sudan, and a lot of other countries were introduced by the news team using a list of recent terrorist attacks/calamities to hit affect the nation.

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If this wasn’t enough, a host of reporters could barely control their laughter while discussing the nation of Djibouti.

Things got even more disturbing when all the news channels started focusing on the topless Olympian from Tonga who led his nation during the opening ceremony. A disgusting display of over-sexualizing an athlete played out on nearly every news channel, and a montage of this absurd behavior was even featured during the ‘And Now This’ segment of Oliver’s show.

The state of Journalism

On the main segment this week, Oliver brought to light the degrading state of local newspapers and its corresponding effects on journalism. Most digital and television news outlets rely on the original story supplied by local newspaper journalists. They repack the original content in order to better market it to their target audience. Due to this, local newspapers become the most important cog in the information industry.

As Oliver puts it – “Media is a food chain that would fall apart without local newspapers.”

Unfortunately for the newspaper industry in the U.S, the revenue they are receiving from online media has only gone by 2 billion dollars between 2004 and 2014, while their revenue from print ad sales has dropped by 30 billion during the same period. Due to this, a large number of giants have been forced to either shut shop, or chop shop in order to make ends meet.

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The giants are falling

Institutes like The Oregonian – a trusted news source that even Last Week Tonight uses for certain segments, have been transformed into digital-first companies. Journalists today are being bundled with a massive amount of work load in order to maintain their local and digital audience, including posting multiple tweets, putting out videos, engaging comments and a lot more.

This has led to a dilution in the quality of journalism, with more mistakes being made across mediums than ever before.

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There has also been layoffs of state house reporters to the tune of 35% across 200 newspapers from 2003 to 2014. Using several examples, Oliver stresses on the fact that state house reporters are extremely important in keeping the government accountable, and that corruption would rise substantially without these reporters.

Staying afloat

The show goes on to discuss the alternatives for newspapers to survive in the current climate. While Tribune publishing decided to become Tronc in order to stay relevant, The Washington Post got lucky when they got bought over by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos who allowed them to continue focusing on news and not profits. Other publications, such as the Las Vegas Review Journal were purchased by Sheldon Adelson, who reviews and changes any coverage regarding his business as per his convenience.

Oliver’s answer was simple. We need to start paying for news, otherwise it will not be worth much anymore. He even made a hilarious video featuring celebrities like Bobby Cannavale, Rose Byrne and Jason Sudeikis to depict the fate of journalists in the future. You can watch the entire segment here (even though it completely negates his point).

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