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The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Consumption and Consumer Studies by J. Michael Ryan, Daniel Thomas Cook

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Infotainment

LAUREN LANGMAN

Loyola University Chicago, USA

DOI: 10.1002/9781118989463.wbeccs150

One crucial aspect of modern life has been concern with broader events and people who live in social worlds beyond our local community or nation. Thus news has become a commodity that is provided by organizations and consumed by audiences. The definition of “hard news” remains vague. Media scholarship has raised questions about the “objectivity” of hard news that is often slanted for political purposes and/or skewed for entertainment value and that shades into “infotainment,” that is, “information-based media content or programming that also includes entertainment content in an effort to enhance popularity with audiences and consumers” (Demers 2005). In a consumer society, providers of hard news must compete with each other for viewers/readers against a vast number of other, softer, more entertaining kinds of sources of information (lifestyle, history, health, etc.).

Driven by competition for audience share, and thus revenue, news is packaged in ways that generate appeal, presented by “attractive” newsreaders with good looks and “pleasing personalities.” Some of these newsreaders may become celebrities and in turn garner publicity and themselves become subjects of infotainment. A society that values a “fun morality” and privatized hedonism means that many people are more concerned with the personal pleasure and gratification that come from media entertainment than with “serious” information ...

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