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Infotainment/News Parody

Last night was an interesting discussion, but I wish more of you would've added to our talk about the current media environment. The main questions I was getting at were these: why has comedy based on the news proliferated recently? Is this just a coincidence, or does it tell us something about how we think about the truth of the news itself? Also: is the rise of "infotainment" journalism something problematic, that raises troubling questions about the news media's role in providing information to citizens in a democracy, or is it something that's simply the collapsing of previous ways of doing things, which were themselves historically specific constructions. In other words, is infotainment something worth worrying about or not?


I believe infotainment news sources such as the Daily Show with Jon Stewart have changed the ways of how Americans look for news. Regular news sources such as Fox News or CNN seem to leave out information that could truly affect how others view things. For this reason, the audience is searching for alternative ways to get a different view of how the world is running. While watching Jon Stewart, the audience feels enlightened of the current situations, yet presents us with enough information so we can form an opinion. His comedic ability while covering the news makes troubling news less painful to watch. Obviously, he cannot cross the line with really tragic news; however, Jon often discusses news relating to the current administration and the war in Iraq. I believe that searching for other ways to get the news other then from the bigger news corporations can really fully develop a person’s perception of reality. That is why whenever I am bored I watch the Chinese news channel (which is even more censored, but still gives information on things that News Corp wouldn’t dare to put on Fox. (ex: a debate between a Palestinian and an Israeli.

I agree that infotainment is the news source of choice for the majority of "young" people. However, I think that this could lead to bad consequences. Just understanding the news and current events from The Daily Show or similar shows/media does not give the view all the information or the true facts. It is my understanding that stories, pictures, quotes, etc. are shown in different ways than they originally occured. For example, a quote from the President may be taken out of context to make it funny or show the President as a less than average intelligent person. This can be very misleading to someone who only gets their news from the one source of infotainment. These people are forming their opinions on lies and satire, not on actual events.

I'm not saying that infotainment doesn't have a place in the media, but it seems that too many people rely on only that source for understanding the world around them. I think that people should take the responsibility to understand all sides of the actual news. They should seek out information from many different types of sources.

In high school, I knew a girl who was a foreign exchange student from Africa. She was always saying that Americans did not know anything about news and current events, that we were all ignorant. At the time, I was very offended that someone would make that generalization about the entire public. Now that I've met more people and seen different ways of life, I understand what she was talking about. Currently, I generally feel the same way she did, people are ignorant and many have no interest in changing that. I don't think that everyone is the same, but a majority of people are this way.

It is obvious that infotainment sources, such as The Daily Show or The Onion, have a large impact because they reach mass audiences. However, they are ultimately entertainment sources and not news sources because their first priority is to entertain. They do not have a responsibility to the public to present honest, unbiased news because that is not their job. The Daily Show does not hide the fact that it presents “fake? news and that it gets its news from other sources. Most people who watch The Daily Show or read The Onion understand that the news it presents is fake, slanted and biased. These audiences, consisting of many young people and some old people, most likely get their “real? news from more dignified sources. It is important to point out that it is the viewer’s responsibility to seek out honest news sources.

Although they present “fake? news, I feel that it is beneficial for our society to have shows like The Daily Show because they can make larger statements about the current state of the media. For example, Jon Stewart makes fun of the stories that news stations cover and how they cover them. The Daily Show is able to point out how the regular news media can be misleading and that they have their own biases. This is evident by the stories they choose to cover, and they way that they edit and censor them.

I don't think infotainment is anything to worry about at all; for me, it is simply a new way to get information out to the public, and the viewers who used infotainment know what is fact and what is falicy--I hope.

I think the only concern about infotainment is with older generations who don't relate. I find a strikingly similar reaction to events such as "rock the vote;" like conservatives today, they weren't too excited about new ways of educating or motivating people to become politically active....especially when they aren't on their side of the spectrum.

On the rise of infotainment, I think it is just a reaction to what is going on in politics and in news. Dan Rather goes on national television and commits a screw up as large as keeping Dan Monson as coach in 2006-07; politics also have become a joke -- Bush says one thing, and then does the other because he is trying to save his administration from a complete and total world of SHIT! Furthermore, how politics are broadcasted is a complete joke with right/left loyal journalists.

Americans, I think, want a news broadcasts that depict politics on what they are and without bias--they want a broadcast that shows them for the complete dumbasses that they are--hence the success of the Daily Show; it doesn't matter if you are Dem/Rep -- either way, you are probably stupid, and will be made fun of as a result.

I also don't think that infotainment is a bad trend in mass media. Like Emily was saying people who read the Onion or watch the Daily Show understand that there is some spin on the actual stories. I would argue that all media is biased in some way. Infotainment might actually be a good thing because I think oftentimes people take whatever they hear especially from reputable news sources as pure fact when even their information is biased to some degree.

As people become busier and busier they do not want to watch CNN on their downtime. They want to be entertained...not that CNN is not entertaining, but people want something more relaxing and watching shows like the Daily Show give them information (although with a spin on it) in a more appealing way. Having some information is better than having no information.

I believe that the reason that infotainment has become so popular over the past few years is because it allows people to take a break from all of the serious and hard hitting news that's in the media. I don't think that people take shows like They Daily Show seriously. I mean, it's on a channel called Comedy Central and like John Stuart said, it's followed by a show about talking puppets. People can't really take a show like that seriously. If they really want to know what's going on in our world they aren't going to tune into Comedy Central. This is the same for The Onion. People know if they want "real" news, they're not going to pick up an edition of The Onion because they know it's filled with sarcasim and bias. Overall, I think that our society understands that these forms of infotainment aren't news, they're simply a form of entertainment.

I've never thought of The Daily Show or The Onion as a way to keep up with current events. Many comments made here seem to think of these as new forms of news sources that are replacing (to whatever extent) what we see as "regular" news. I would argue that they are not news sources at all and most people don't view them as such. Instead, they provide an entertaining complement to politics and world events.

I have a lot of friends that are wild about these forms of infotainment. However, I don't know one who uses these sources strictly as their medium for gathering current events, mainly because the topics covered in The Onion or The Daily Show really aren't funny if you don't understand the story it is based on. I would argue that the people that are using these sources are the ones that are very in tune to the "real" news. With that said, I think that infotainment is a great way to complement mainstream news sources with a little humor.

I also agree with Chelsea. For me I like to watch the Daily Show to me entertained instead of being informed. If I want to be informed about recent news I would watch CNN or go on the internet and look it up. These shows are more for entertainment than actual information. Also the Onion for me is a nice thing to read on the bus or something. I don't look at the Onion and try to figure out what is going on in the world.

I believe that comic portrayals of the news have proliferated due to the high demand for entertainment. The public is always looking for ways to be entertained and it was inevitable that this demand would pour over into news media. There is a large audience for shows such as the Daily Show with Jon Stewart and newspapers such as The Onion and they will continue to exist as long as there is an audience for them. I think that as long as the viewers know how to take in the information, as a comic portrayal of a real life and sometimes even imagined event, then there is no harm being done by “infotainment?. I believe it is important to search out several avenues when researching news stories and trying to collect information, however, if one wants solely to be entertained then news comedy is a good choice. I think that news comedy is a way of making light of horrific circumstances that are otherwise depressing to think about. Unfortunately this may emotionally distance the audience from the real problems that exist in our society and may consequently take away from their perceived severity. This may very well be the biggest problem facing a society absorbed by infotainment. Fortunately, it seems as though those people that do subscribe to this form of news are well aware of what it represents and do not rely on it for factual information.

Wow, there's a ton of great ideas here...it seems like the end of the semester and the idea of infotainment has struck a chord. One question that I have in reading your comments, however, is about the idea of the "audience" and the "public" that many of you discuss. It seems like it's a little too easy to justify whatever the media does by simply saying that it's what "the public wants" or it's what the "audience" wants. How do media companies and people know what "the public" wants? Who is makes up "the public?" Is "the public" or an "audience" something that just exists, out there, whether or not it's tuned in or consuming a particular media form?