Great powers have been attributed to Jon Stewart and “The Daily Show.” If you’re an author, they can add your latest opus to a lot of people’s shopping carts. If you’re a news site, they can stress your servers.

But can they drive drastic changes in media consumption habits? In the first Erik Wemple Blog crowdsourcing experiment, the answer is yes.

The background: Gallup yesterday released the results of a poll on the confidence of United Statesians in their media organizations. Overall, the findings are good, with a slight uptick in confidence levels for both TV news and newspapers.


Check out the figures for the all-too-crucial 18-29-year-old demographic. These young adults have lost a frightening amount of confidence in newspapers---from 49 percent to 39 percent---while gaining a frightening amount of confidence in TV news---24 percent to 34 percent.

So we put the facts on Twitter and polled folks for explanations. Some highlights:

@paleomedia: Stewart

@bigdaddymambo: Three words: The. Daily. Show.

@jasoncherkis: Jon Stewart.

Non-Stewart responses included the following:

@baznet: The drive to video? Perception of accuracy?

@joshbarr: tv folks improving how they read newspaper stories on air?

@Igersheim: hoodwinking by fox news?

@GrahamCC: I blame reality TV

@demisdouble: 20somethings lost 10% of their ability to read.

One twentysomething hit me on e-mail with this explanation: “I’d say that the decline in confidence in traditional media among my age group is not unexpected and in fact TV’s rebound comes as somewhat of a surprise. I’d speculate that the television medium is faring better at least partially because it has more visibly embraced pop culture and branding of new media, e.g. the YouTube presidential debates, on-air hashtags like #bornthisgma, relentless promotion of station Twitter and Facebook pages during newscasts, and so on.”

One tweep asked whether Gallup grouped the Daily Show and the Colbert Report into “TV News.” The response from Galluper Lymari Morales: “We don’t define ‘television news’ for respondents, so it is up to them to interpret.”

Another question: Has any age group shown such a dramatic tilt in this poll? Morales is working on that one.