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  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: June 2014

7 - Does Infotainment Journalism Lead to Political Cynicism?

Summary

The Effects of Privatization versus Personalization in the News

In the previous chapter we examined the effects of human-interest and conflict frames on political knowledge, and showed how especially those with lower levels of political interest may benefit from exposure to such political news. Along the same lines we will now examine the effects of infotainment coverage on citizens with various levels of political interest. Our key question is whether political journalism that draws on entertainment features in the news leads to political cynicism.

Journalists are often criticized for blurring the line between news and entertainment. This phenomenon, also known as “infotainment,” is subject to continuous debate among political communication scholars regarding its causes, meaning, and most importantly its effects on citizens and democracy (see Brants, 1998). While differentiation between information and entertainment is much contested, it is important to note that news is never likely to be 100 percent entertainment. Traditionally, however, the expectation has been that news should be informative. In Chapter 1 we outlined the information-entertainment continuum as one of the core concepts of this book. We investigated the importance of this dimension for journalists’ self-perceptions (Chapter 3) and the content they produce (Chapter 5). In this chapter we turn to the effects of exposure to infotainment.