Friday, April 18, 2008

Infotainment and Manipulation

I came across infotainment in today’s newspaper. The word is new to me and not in any dictionary that I own. Google didn’t recognize it either, but surprisingly, when I typed it just now, my computer did not underline it in red as a misspelled word. Infotainment combines information and entertainment – which is what we seem to get from the major news networks on TV these days. I am almost embarrassed to admit that I seldom watch news channels on TV anymore. They present the news in short segments, as if the viewer is too immature, unintelligent, or restless to concentrate for more than two minutes. They usually give ‘facts’ without background or context. They also present the news with emotional overtones when possible by asking questions such as, “And how did you feel when your house burned down?” or other questions equally mindless. These news channels seem keen to entertain, and they take the results of frequent polls seriously in order to evaluate their success.

On the other hand newspapers present information with manipulation. They present ‘facts’ without background and/or opposing views. A good example is an article the New York Times of yesterday (April 18, 2008) about carnage in Gaza. The title: Palestinians Fight Israelis in Gaza by Isabel Kershner. Palestinian is the subject of the verb to fight in that sentence so grammatically one can assume Palestinians are the ‘doer of the action’ or the aggressor. Not once in the article is it mentioned than Gaza is under Israeli military occupation. At the end of the article it states that: “The Israeli Defense Ministry had announced in advance that it would allow the resumption of essential fuel supplies to Gaza on Wednesday, but the violence delayed the delivery for a few hours. The Palestinians received fuel needed to run the Gaza power plant and cooking gas, but no gas for private cars.” Again, the article makes no mention that Israel has blockaded Gaza preventing fuel from being delivered. No one is pointing a finger at Israel for violating international agreements regarding the rights of civilians under occupation. There is no outrage that Israel is guilty of mass punishment against the population of Gaza.

If I want entertainment, I do not expect to find it in the news. And I resent articles that are manipulative in order to shape my opinion according to another’s vested interest.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only other time that I have seen the word "infotainment" used, was when Prince Hassan has said , more than once, that there was too much " infotainment and infoterror, but not enough infowisdom" around.

Saturday, April 19, 2008  

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