Infotainment – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Sometimes I watch silly TV shows. Lately I’ve been watching Buck Rodgers on Netflix at a friend’s house. One of the actors is Gilbert Gerard, who was married to Connie Sellecca. That name looked familiar so I went to her wiki page. After Connie’s divorce of Mr. Gerard she married John Tesh. The profile said he was a pianist/infotainer and I had no idea what that meant. Looking at that wiki page I found the link above. Then it hit me, most blogs including mine are probably infotainment.
For several years I used to work for a small town newspaper with a circulation of maybe 20,000 subscribers. They never told me, I just am guessing. I used to write-up human interest stories about things I was interested in. I was often assigned serious news stories like crimes and legal matters. It was a great experience. Sometimes my stories hit “a little too close to home” but that is another story. We weren’t the Washington Post but we did a decent job given the economics of the environment. The reason I share this is that I quickly learned from my editor what was serious and what was fluff. He always told me “Serious journalism makes people uncomfortable. Fluff makes them feel good.”
I used to work for a magazine in my past. It was a great experience as well. I miss the coworkers that I had there. One of the problems however of magazines is that in the past they used to be able to monopolize information. Without the internet the average person didn’t have a cost-effective way to gather the information they needed. The fall of magazines has several factors, but that’s not germane here. I think the main reason that magazines are failing is that they changed from a substantive to an infotainment model.
Take Readers Digest for example. In 2009 they declared bankruptcy. This is a magazine that had millions of readers, and I think a 70 year history. I grew up reading it. Why and how did they lose their customer base? Even last year major publishers continue to not meet their rate base. Which is a very big deal because they have to return money to advertisers and it is a sign they are loosing readers. Here is part of the reason of their failure. Overwhelming abusing and disrespecting their customers. The biggest failure of RD was that the purpose of condensing culture served no use in the Internet age.
Blogs/Social networks/Facebook offer the ability to customize entertainment in a way never before possible. What might have united people by gatekeepers before, seems controlling and manipulative. It seems to me that long-term the most popular Internet places will give people choices, not limit them. Facebook for example gives people choices in a way they never had before. While it is limiting, most people are not motivated enough to test its limitations.
To me, the current state of the Internet seems much like the early days of TV. From what I understand, the early TV shows were radio/vaudeville like I Love Lucy and Gunsmoke. Perhaps the intellectual equivalent to MySpace and FaceBook. It was only later that things like PBS and NPR appeared. I believe that when people get tired of LOLcats, photoshopped photos and porn (sometimes the same), they might look at serious things.
Life is about balance. Nothing is wrong with entertainment, but just like cookies, infotainment is a sometimes activity.
*Click here for more details about his food preferences. Now I’m going to eat his second favorite cookie.