The Celebrification of Religion in the Age of Infotainment

Kathryn Lofton

in The Oxford Handbook of Religion and the American News Media

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780195395068
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

The Celebrification of Religion in the Age of Infotainment


Studying celebrity and religion in concert requires parsing the multiple ways these terms have become increasingly interactive, overlapping, and co-constitutive in modern America. This article explores how this has transpired by looking at both the forms of news reporting that have succeeded in recent years and the changed way that religion is publically discussed. Its focus is the national daily newspaper USA Today, which provides an excellent archive for the relationship between religion and celebrity in the news via its own oft-touted (and oft-satirized) synthetic style, including short articles, cheery cartoon graphics, and intentionally “easy to read” copy. This article analyzes the way that entertainment news deploys religious idiom to express something inexpressibly potent in its subject and to translate democratic moral agency in an increasingly privatized corporate media structure. First, it offers a short history of the emergence of infotainment reportage and its corollary celebrification. It then discusses news coverage of religion and celebrity in three separate periods: 1989–1996, 1997–2003, and 2004–2010.

Keywords: religion; celebrity; news coverage; infotainment; celebrification; USA Today; entertainment; America

Article.  7410 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religious Studies

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