Finding Truth in the Age of ‘Infotainment’

January 19, 1990

Report Outline
Special Focus

Introduction

In the race for higher ratings, TV news programs have turned to eye-catching production techniques and other showbusiness touches, including the recreation of some stories. At the same time, newspaper and magazine editors are enlivening their publications with everything from gossip columns to color weather maps. What's behind the socalled “infotainment” trend, and where is it headed? Has the media's traditional distinction between news and entertainment disappeared?

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Overview

The scene was a busy European street corner. In the foreground, captured by a hidden camera, suspected American spy Felix S. Bloch looked cautiously over his shoulder, then gave a package of papers to a Soviet agent. As the two men talked, a digital clock recorded the date and time of their meeting in the lower righthand corner of the picture. It seemed to be a damaging piece of evidence in the case against Bloch, then a State Department diplomat, and a major scoop for ABC News, which aired the tape last summer.

But it wasn't.

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