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News Construction in Infotainment

Infotainment is probably one of the most successful program in current Indonesian tv program. Stories of celebrities are always narrated in such a distinctive way. Infotainment stands for information and entertainment, however is there really information within? Yet, infotainment always articulates it self as the source of news concerning celebrity. Then, how is news constructed? Let us start by define what infotainment is.

Information, as defined by dictionary.reference.com is "
knowledge communicated or received concerning a particular fact or circumstance". In this definition, fact really counts. While entertainment means "
the act of entertaining; agreeable occupation for the mind; diversion; amusement". to conclude, infotainment means presenting amusing news. Or as once again, citing from dictionary reference: television or radio programs that treat factual material in an entertaining manner, as by including dramatic elements" 

So, how can news be entertaining? In this writing, I would like to propose some of my opinions. Yet, before furthering into analysis, let me tell you that it will concern only to Indonesia's infotainment, as I only have access to it. :P. So far some keywords that we have gotten from the definition is: fact, entertaining, and dramatic elements. This keywords will help us to understand how factual news is constructed by infotainment.


 



Infotainment, as one of journalistic work relies on information, a factual information. However, how can deliver information be entertaining? what makes it different from news program. There are several points that I want to propose regarding on how infotainment construct news.



1. The role of the host. 
Indonesian infotainment depend so much on the hosts. For example, three infotainments that I use as the sample, namely Silet (aired on RCTI, everyday at 11.00), Insert (aired on Trans TV, also everyday at 11.00), and Kiss (aired on Indosiar, every monday - friday at 14.00). The three shows employ hosts who comment on every news broadcast. They insert their own personal opinions by the end of news presentation. If you are Indonesia, and you are critical enough to observe the way they criticize and comment on the news, you will be able to tell that it is the way the hosts lead us to believe the information as true. This is one if the ways infotainment construct the news. Hosts play the big roles in building up the atmosphere. Compare it to news program. The anchor will tend to not give comments or his/her own opinions. They will just read the news script and that is all. 



2. The voice over
The same as news program, when a certain story of a celebrity is narrated, there will be a voice over explaining the content. But, the way infotainment use voice over is tricky. In news program, voice over is used along with visual narration of the news, the exact visual narration. Thus, the voice over functions to explain what is going on in the visual narration. Now, observe the use of voice over in infotainment. Voice over is often used to accompany a very different context of visual narration. It is also often that voice over and the visual narration are not matched one to another. This is how infotainment construct what it calls as news. The use of visual narration enables audience to perceive  the visual aspect of the news although it has no relation with the content of the news at all. Thus, the voice over is used to connect this. The voice over functions as the bridge so that people are led to believe what they watch (even though it is not matched) is true.

3. Past Celebrity Comments
The third way of how infotainment construct news is the use of the past comments made by celebrities. For example, there is a hot gossip of certain celebrity. Then, the celebrities being gossiped are very hard to meet and they rarely clarify the truth of the matter is. Then, how infotainment can still construct a news from this case? there is no source to ask for information. Infotainment has its own way. It will use past celebrities comments ever taped (of course by inserting the date and year of taping to indicate it was a past comment). In one way, this will still suggest that infotainment still present fact, as it is the celebrities themselves who comment. But, on the other way, once again it is really not relevant. How can past comments be used to respond current issue? Laymen may never perceived this troublesome. But as critical audience, scholars must be able to see this.

I argue that through these three ways, infotainment construct their data (which consist of some facts, some opinions) to be news. Through these three ways, infotainment present their data to be entertaining. And through these three ways, infotainment led people to believe what they watch are valuable enough to be called as news. They are also what I can call as the dramatic element of infotainment. There are still many dramatic elements concerning on the visual presentation of news that can be analyzed semiotically. You wanna give it a try?

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