Since the coining of this quote, it appears that the journalism profession has continued to evolve more in line with this observation that Frank Herbert made many years earlier. Indeed, if the current trend in the journalism profession is anything to go by, the present state of things in this industry indicates a profession that has increasingly focused on the entertainment business vis a vis other roles that journalism ought to play in society. But this is for good reasons if the concept of journalism is viewed as a whole; in this section, I wish to show that entertainment is a central feature in journalism, which cannot be omitted if this industry is to be successful.
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It is common knowledge that the real intention of journalism is to sell information that really matters, but not just any kind of information. But in order to sell that albeit small section of information that the industry is interested in passing to its audience and thereby generate income requires this profession to focus more on entertainment.
This makes sense considering that the major income-generating activities in the larger media industry are from the sale of information, usually through various forms of advertisement, which entertainment actually happens to be one of them. So to go around this hurdle, the journalism profession has to increase focus on what sells most, that which interests its audience most, and that which attracts the audience in the first place; this is almost always any form of entertainment.
Indeed, historically the role of journalism has always mainly been entertainment and events coverage; unfortunately, these noble functions have overtime been overtaken by the unique needs of this modern society, 21st-century challenges, and the concept of the capitalist system that is in place in today world over as we shall see in the following section. So from this perspective, it is clear that journalism must focus on entertainment as its business for it to succeed.
Argument against this claim
But at the same time, journalism has really nothing to do with entertainment as its actual mandate goes beyond the mere need to entertain its audience, or in that case, keep them informed. Here I claim that the journalism profession is really not about entertainment per se, given that the real intention is to reach the same audience and sell it information that is valuable. In fact, I wish to postulate that modern journalism is almost solely interested in shaping audience preferences through advertisement than it is committed to its core business, which should be events coverage and entertainment. This is because advertisement is now a thriving multi-billion industry that is very much at the center of every component of the media industry, which includes the journalism profession.
Again this would make sense from another perspective when you consider that the journalism profession is very capital intensive and requires a lot of money to finance and even sustain, and because this profession is profit-generating oriented, then it means that it must have a stable source of income. Unfortunately, entertainment by itself, including event coverage, does not really generate any funds for media companies or journalist professionals.
In fact, sometimes, unless event organizers wish to have journalists cover their activities for purposes of the advertisement so as to expose it to potential clients, then covering such events is very costly. This means that if the journalism profession was really just about entertainment, hardly will journalists or most media companies be generating any income and would instead be losing money if this profession was entirely about entertainment. So I rest my case, and in retrospect, I have to say that Herbert was only partly accurate in claiming that journalism was about entertainment.