This word has crossed my path all week. Whether it’s been during a casual phone conversation, reading a magazine, or repeatedly when I “click” the info button on my television controller, the word “infotainment” is haunting me.This odd presence of Infotainment caused me to think about how this synonym for “soft journalism” is currently changing the way news is delivered and consumed.
Has entertainment value overshadowed news judgment? Does infotainment “taint” hard news or is it doing the “boring stuff” a favor? Is the marriage of news with entertainment beneficial because it keeps intended audiences occupied?If the 10 o’clock news is teased by a story about “How to be a Star” airing during American Idol, are viewers more likely to stay tuned in? Often–particularly on slow news days–the 5 o’clock news is teased by “women friendly” topics on the heels of Oprah. Does adding a warm-hearted human interest or feature-based story to the front page of the newspaper give readers a break from all the “bad stuff”?
There are many questions–however, I’m unsure there are answers. One thing is certain, the infotainment trend by news outlets is changing the media landscape and impacting PR professionals. Based on the desired goals for a media relations campaign, infotainment might not be a monster. At the same time, with infotainment creeping into traditional news outlets, we have to be extra keen on the tone of news stories, the message, the audience, and the focus.