ETHICS IN THE INFOTAINMENT AGE
Once upon a time, journalists reported news, companies promoted products, and entertainers produced drama and diversions. Today, news, promotion, and entertainment are blended together in an endless array of offerings commonly touted as infotainment. People learn about current events from talk radio, magazine shows, and late-night comedy. Companies shop their goods through branded entertainment and product placement in documentary-style reality TV programs. Meanwhile, audiences are producing their own news, promotions, and entertainment shared in social networks, weblogs, and virtual worlds. As we saw in Chapter 8, efforts to deal with entertainment’s changing landscape have resulted in the rise of many laws and regulations. However, it is not only impossible to create legislation that can anticipate and remedy every troublesome issue but also unconstitutional, as many of the controls that might curb some of the questionable practices in entertainment would violate implicit and implied rights such as free expression and privacy. Recognizing the need to try to develop some sense of standards, many industries have developed codes of conduct and ethics to govern their practices, that, while not obligatory, have served as a level of self-regulation.