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Infotainment

Geoffrey Baym


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The term infotainment refers to a cluster of program types that blur traditional distinctions between information-oriented and entertainment-based genres of television programming. Primarily a pejorative term, infotainment is often used to denote the decline of hard news and public affairs discussion programs and the corresponding development of a variety of entertainment shows that mimic the style of news. At the same time, however, the early years of the twenty-first century have seen the increasing emergence of programs that more thoroughly blend the content and form of various genres of public affairs and entertainment. This has created a complex spectrum of hybrid programming with a potentially wide range of implications for public information, political communication, and democratic discourse. Much scholarly concern with the phenomenon of infotainment has focused on the encroachment of entertainment on the domain of news. In his seminal work, Postman (1985) feared that we were “amusing ourselves to death” by forsaking print-based, rational-critical information in favor of entertaining televisual spectacle with its short attention span and dramatic storylines. Altheide (2004) has argued that news and politics must now conform to an entertainment-driven →  “media logic” and are disseminated to the public through an “infotainment news perspective” that packages events ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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