Hana Shafi Info What?*

Whenever I say that I’m in journalism, I always feel the need to clarify that no, I do not intend to be writing for any tabloid magazines. I shouldn’t have to clarify, but the line between journalism and petty tabloid gossip has gradually begun to erode over the years, and as a young rookie just starting to make my way into the field, I have to let people know that I don’t plan on joining the dark side (i.e. the latest celebrity “news”). 

Infotainment is not only the greatest roadblock for emerging journalists hoping to make a career out of something actually relevant, but it's an obstacle for any of those wishing to be truly informed. Even the major news networks, the channels that one might consider “serious,” have become blurry messes of sensationalism, pure entertainment, and stuff that actually fucking matters. 

Why am I watching a segment about yet another person trying to sue one coffee shop or another for making their drinks too hot? Or better yet, why am I being forced to choose between that and the latest breaking news about so and so’s cellulite on the beach (did I mention that tabloid mags can be biggest bullies?). Guys, contact the fucking president: Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis were spotted canoodling (ugh - tabloid speak). 

Hey, I’ll admit it. I do plan, this year, to be among the high-pitched screaming masses of highly aroused fans at TIFF. I might just yell “I LOVE YOU RYAN GOSLING.” But I only allow the squealing-fan part of myself to emerge in moderation. I’ve tried to actually read a tabloid magazine and I feel like my brain is literally melting out of my ears by the third page. 

And yet people love it. Infotainment is slow poison; it contributes to the dumbing down of the population. We forget about the real problems because after an exhausting day at work we almost can’t help but be completely hypnotized by what so and so is saying on TMZ. Who cares about the ongoing conflicts raging in Syria or the economic crisis reaching its boiling point in Greece when we can go nuts over the latest sighting of Adele’s baby bump? 

There’s nothing wrong with being interested in a bit of celebrity gossip. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t. It just becomes a problem when people’s minds are more preoccupied by tabloids than by social and political issues which, in this highly globalized day and age, will eventually affect you too. It becomes a problem when we conform to a social norm that encourages total engrossment in infotainment, and adds an almost negative-quality to anyone hoping to discuss something a little bigger.

So when people ask me what I’m in school for, and I say journalism, I do feel obligated to launch into a mini-rant about what I mean by journalism. Otherwise I’ll be forever haunted by the image of future-me writing a story about the Hollywood’s hottest beach bods. 

 

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