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Infotainment Wiki

Infotainment Wiki

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Published by Julie Thrasher
Very Up to date outline on Infotainment with outline of key areas of argument
Very Up to date outline on Infotainment with outline of key areas of argument

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Published by: Julie Thrasher on Dec 05, 2008
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01/16/2013

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Topics in journalismProfessional issues
News• Reportage • Writing •Ethics • Objectivity • Values •Attribution • Defamation •Editorial independence • Education •Other topics
Fields
Arts • Business • Entertainment •Environment • Fashion • Politics •Science •Sports • Tech • Trade •Traffic • Weather
Genres
Advocacy journalismCitizen journalismCivic journalismCommunity journalismGonzo journalismInvestigative journalismLiteraryjournalismNew journalismNarrative journalismVisual journalismWatchdog journalism
Social impact
Fourth EstateFifth EstateFreedom of the press
Infotainment
Media biasPublic relationsYellow journalism
News media
NewspapersMagazinesNews agenciesBroadcast journalismOnline ournalism
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Infotainment
(a portmanteau of information and entertainment)refers to a general type of media broadcast program whichprovides a combination of current events news and "featurenews", or "features stories".Infotainment also refers to the segments of programming intelevision news programs which overall consist of both "hardnews" segments and interviews, along with celebrity interviewsand human drama stories. Critics have claimed the combinationof the two aspects is a conflict of interest by corporate newsoutlets—focusing on marketing, not journalism. The term"infotainment" thus may be a pejorative among those who holdprofessional journalistic values in esteem. Infotainment shouldnot be confused with documentaries, educational television, orhard news programming.These go more in depth of the subjectsthey cover and can even provide classroom level instruction inareas such as mathematics, science, biology, or writing, etc.Infotainment may also be found, not only in broadcast media, butalso in retail environments whereby display material containinginformation about the features and benefits of various productsondisplayis combined with style, color, even sound, to provide ashopping "experience" - such "retail infotainment"is often referred to as retailtainment.Infotainment usuallycovers a long-term change or point of interest, or a general trend—an aspect of the zeitgeist. Many suchstories as those cover topics such as health tips or gardening tips,exploring television show genres, travel, shopping, yachting orexploring new wines—topics that are not actually "news" at all,in the sense of things that are currently happening. Other storiesdeal with something that is happening, but isgradual, rather than tied to a single event—a new music genre coming intoprominence, a shift in tide in the political views of the nation, anew turn in teen attitudes about sexuality, a commonality amongpolitical candidates, the returning appeal of the retro styles andmemories of a past decade, crazes like Tamagotchi or Furby, or acommon thread among current events that reveals somethingabout the times.
Contents
1 Criticism2 Hard news, soft news and infotainment
 
 PhotojournalismAlternative media
Roles
Journalist • Reporter • Editor •Columnist • Commentator •Photographer • News presenter •Production Manager • Intern 3 Concerns and criticisms4 What counts as journalism?5 Entertainment and news crossovers6 Infomercials7 See also8 External links
Criticism
Adding to the distinction between journalists and anchors andreporters are "human interest", personality, or celebrity newsstories, which typically are directed by marketing departments based on a demographic appeal and audienceshare. It's commonly accepted that anchors are also media personalities, who may even be consideredcelebrities. The very nature of corporate network news requires its media personalities to use their publicappeal to promote the networks investments, just as network broadcasts themselves (morning shows, TVnews magazines) schedule self-promotional stories, in addition to advertising. Critics might go so far as toview anchors as a weak link in the news trade, representing the misplacement of both the credit and theaccountability of a news journalism organization—hence adding to a perceived erosion of journalisticstandards throughout the news business. (See yellow journalism.)Most infotainment, especially television programs on the networks or broadcast cable, only contain generalfactual information on the subjects they cover, and should not be considered as formal learning orinstruction. For example you may learn that a motorcycle contains an engine, or how fast one can travel, onAmerican Chopper, but you will not learn the inner-workings of the engine, the physics and chemistryinvolved when it is running, or how to customize a motorcycle on your own using schematics.
Hard news, soft news and infotainment
Hard news
and
soft news
are terms for describing a relative difference between poles in a spectrum withinthe broader news trade—with "hard" journalism at the professional end and "soft" infotainment at the other.Because the term "news" is quite broad, the terms "hard" and "soft" denote both a difference in respectivestandards for news value, as well as for standards of conduct, relative to the professional ideals of ournalistic integrity.The idea of 
hard news
embodies two orthogonal concepts:
Seriousness:
Politics, economics, crime, war, and disasters are considered serious topics, as arecertain aspects of law, science, and technology.
Timeliness:
Stories that cover current events—the progress of a war, the results of a vote, thebreaking out of a fire, a significant public statement, the freeing of a prisoner, an economic report of note.The logical opposite,
soft news
is sometimes referred to in a derogatory fashion as
infotainment.
Definingfeatures catching the most criticism include:
The least serious subjects:
Arts and entertainment, sports, lifestyles, "human interest", andcelebrities.
Not timely:
There is no precipitating event triggering the story, other than a reporter's curiosity.Timely events happen in less serious subjects—sporting matches, celebrity misadventures, movie releases,art exhibits, and so on.
 
There may also be serious reports which are not event-driven—coverage of important social, economic,legal, or technological trends; investigative reports which uncover ongoing corruption, waste, orimmorality; or discussion of unsettled political issues without any special reason. Anniversaries, holidays,the end of a year or season, or the end of the first 100 days of an administration, can make some storiestime-sensitive, but provide more of an opportunity for reflection and analysis than any actual "news" toreport.The spectrum of "seriousness" and "importance" is not well-defined, and different media organizationsmake different tradeoffs. "News you can use", a common marketing phrase highlighting a specific genre of ournalism, spans the gray area. Gardening tips and hobby "news" pretty clearly fall at the entertainmentend. Warnings about imminent natural disasters or acute domestic security threats (such as air raids orterrorist attacks) are considered so important that broadcast media (even non-news channels) usuallyinterrupt other programming to announce them. A medical story about a new treatment for breast cancer, ora report about local ground water pollution might fall in between. So might book reviews, or coverage of religion. On the other hand, people frequently find hobbies and entertainment to be worthwhile parts of their lives and so "importance" on a personal level is rather subjective.
Concerns and criticisms
The label "
infotainment
" is emblematic of concern and criticism that journalism is devolving from amedium which conveys serious information about issues that affect the public interest, into a form of entertainment which happens to have fresh "facts" in the mix. The criteria by which reporters and editorsudge news value - whether something is worth putting on the front page, the bottom of the hour, or isworth commenting on at all - is an integral part of this debate.Some blame the media for this perceived phenomenon, for failing to live up to ideals of civic journalisticresponsibility. Others blame the commercial nature of many media organizations, the need for higherratings, combined with a preference among the public for feel-good content and "unimportant" topics (likecelebrity gossip or sports).A specialization process has also occurred, beginning with the rise of mass market special-interestmagazines, moving into broadcast with the advent of cable television, and continuing into new media, likethe Internet and satellite radio. An increasing number of media outlets are available to the public that focusexclusively on one topic such as current events, home improvement, history, movies, women andChristianity. This means that consumers have more choice over whether they receive a general feed of themost "important" information of the day, or whether they get a highly customized presentation that containsonly one type of content, which need not be newsworthy, and which need not come from a neutral point of view. Some publications and channels have found a sizable audience in the "niche" of featuring hard news.But controversy continues over whether the size of that audience is too small, and whether those outlets arediluting content with too much "soft" news.
What counts as journalism?
Some journalists define "journalism" to include only report on "serious" subjects, where commonournalistic standards are upheld by the reporter. The larger "news business" or news trade encompasseseverything from professional journalism to so-called "soft news" and "infotainment", and support activitiessuch as marketing, advertising sales, finance and delivery. Professional journalism is supposed to placemore emphasis on research, fact-checking, and the public interest than its "non-journalistic" counterparts.

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