- Oxford Bibliographies
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- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR)
Infotainment has increasingly become pervasive in the triangle of relationships between politics, citizens, and the media. While the consumption of traditional news formats has declined, the popularity and importance of entertaining news genres have rapidly grown. Several types of media formats fall under the umbrella term of infotainment; for example and most prominently, Soft News, Political Satire, Political Fiction, and Entertainment Talk Shows. What these genres have in common is that they simultaneously provide entertainment and political information; yet, the balance between the two may differ substantially. Since infotainment is a multifaceted concept, numerous articles and books have been published about the conceptualization of infotainment (sometimes also coined “soft news”), and the question frequently pops up whether infotainment is a threat or blessing for democracy. Individual studies and scholars strongly differ on the answer; it very much depends on the infotainment genre that one focuses on—or whether infotainment is investigated in terms of its content features, media effects, or audience characteristics. Also the methodological approach may play a role: the topic of infotainment has increasingly gained academic attention of scholars employing both quantitative and qualitative research methods. The text proceeds with, first, (a) an overview of texts that help conceptualizing (trends in) infotainment, (b) getting to know its audience, and (c) learning about the consequences that infotainment may have for democracy. Thereafter, it continues with an overview of the literature on four of the most prominent infotainment genres: soft news, political satire, talk shows, and political fiction. Because the literature on the topic of infotainment is very much divided into studies that investigate the content of infotainment programs and studies that investigate the effects of such outlets, separate sections are devoted to this for every infotainment genre. The study of infotainment—just as perhaps almost any topic within communication science—is dominated by work from the United States, which is also reflected in the balance of studies that are included in this article.
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