Infotainment could bring an end to the news media as we know it. Infotainment is best described as “broadcast material which is intended both to entertain and to inform.” (Oxford Dictionary). Infotainment has been quickly gaining popularity among news stations, newspapers, and magazines. But why? I will explain why infotainment is gaining popularity and why it is so dangerous in the next paragraph. Afterward, I will discuss how one can spot when the media is using infotainment and how we, as viewers, can potentially put a stop to it. Lastly, I will provide a brief summary of everything discussed.
As I previously mentioned, infotainment is gaining popularity among many media outlets. So much so, that it could be often seen throughout the presidential campaign and even throughout the primaries. This is because infotainment does one thing that is the goal of every media outlet; it increases their ratings. This can be dangerous for several different reasons. These reasons go hand-in-hand and are the cause and effect for the other. The first reason is that the media loses credibility with each infotainment segment they promote. The second reason is that the viewers start to focus more of the entertainment aspect instead of the information aspect and thus starts to view the news only as a form of entertainment. The reason as to why they are a cause and effect for the other is that as the media displays more and more infotainment, the viewer starts to focus on the entertainment part and looks towards the news as a form of entertainment instead of information. Furthermore, the more the public views the news to be entertainment, the more the media has to meet the demands, thus displaying more and more infotainment to meet the public’s needs.
This year’s presidential campaign was a breeding ground for the infotainment that media used. Let’s go back to the first time presidential candidate (now President-elect) Donald Trump talked about building a wall on the border separating the United States from Mexico. For the next days, weeks, and months, the media portrayed this as entertainment by playing the video clip over and over again while insulting him and calling him a “racist”. They did this because that is what their viewers wanted to see and hear. They did not care that the information that Donald Trump was trying to portray was that the United States’ immigration policy is weak and needs to be strengthened. The media increased their ratings and the news-worthy story on the presidential candidate’s immigration policy was turned into a story for entertainment. Another example of this use of infotainment is the cover of the March 28, 2016, edition of The New Yorker.
The magazine pokes fun at Donald Trump and conveying an important informational meaning. The magazine cover is talking about the issue, that at the time was a big one, and that was the debate on whether or not Donald Trump believed everything he said or was he the “puppet” that said and did as the Republican Party told him to. However, this was overshadowed by the use of stereotypes or infotainment such as small fingers on the hand that is portrayed or the use of handwritten notes insinuating that Donald Trump can only say what he has written on his hand.
The only way to stop infotainment is to be able to recognize it and have conversations with people who do not understand. If people who recognize infotainment do not buy into the infotainment that the media is throwing at the public and helps to pass that information on to those who do not know the difference, then the media will drop ratings and will realize that the America people want news-worthy stories and cannot be tricked into viewing something just because it is more enjoyable.