Response Questions 7

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In chapter 8 of the K&R text, the authors discussed something called infotainment. What do they mean by infotainment? Give a brief description of the term and then think of a real life example that constitutes infotainment. 

The authors of The Elements of Journalism believe that infotainment is the practice of turning news material into entertainment. For example, Barbara Walters had an interview with Monica Lewinsky about her involvement with President Clinton. For a majority of the interview, they talked about the sexual details of the situation like whether President Clinton was a good kisser or not. It was not until after the scandalous questions were asked did Barbara Walters actually start questioning Lewinsky about whether she lied under oath to protect the president and whether he had arranged a job for her in return (192).

Is infotainment good practice? A necessary evil? Or a complete disgrace to the news industry? Why or why not? If the authors argue that news must engage with the audience and make things interesting/relevant, what if infotainment is precisely what the audience want?

While the authors of The Elements of Journalism tend to have a negative view on the use of infotainment, it can actually be a good practice if it is done right. Journalists can use infotainment to draw an audience in and then once they have the audience’s attention they can start reporting the “information they need to understand the world” (189). Infotainment is not a disgrace to the news industry unless the news focused on shallow, entertaining scandals and stories take precedence over the news focused on information that people need to live their lives. Journalists are storytellers with the intention of providing information people need to understand the world. As professional storytellers, journalists must first find the information people need to live their lives and then find a way to make that information “meaningful, relevant, and engaging” (189). A way in which journalists can make the information more enticing is by using the practice of infotainment. For example, a journalist can use Miley Cyrus’ twerking as an introduction to a news story about how the entertainment industry is setting a bad example for children. However, when the news story is solely about Miley Cyrus’ twerking obsession that’s where the problem lies. Journalists must realize that infotainment should only be used to enhance the substance of the story—infotainment should not be the substance of the story.

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