2004
Volume 41, Issue 4
  • ISSN: 1384-6930
  • E-ISSN: 1875-7286

Abstract

The ethics of ‘reality show’ production(s): Issues, dimensions, and discourses of program-makers and participants

The ethics of ‘reality show’ production(s): Issues, dimensions, and discourses of program-makers and participants

In this article we elaborate the ethical issues of ‘intrusion’, ‘humiliation’, and ‘misrepresentation’ as related to the production of ‘reality shows’. Our focus is on dilemmas between moral and professional values or loyalties, and the (potentially) harmful treatments and responsibilities emerging from the power differential between program-makers and participants. The present study is grounded in insights drawn from the literature on documentary, media and image ethics, and cultural production studies. These are integrated with primary data obtained through semi-structured interviews with 12 television professionals and 25 participants of ‘reality shows’, (co-)produced in Flanders (and the Netherlands). We argue for a position that touches a middle ground between an ‘incident-centered ethics’ and an all-encompassing critique, pointing out structural factors, while allowing for measures of agency and differentiation. It is also concluded that ethical considerations need to be brought more squarely into the day-to-day calculations of ‘reality’-program-makers.

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/content/journals/10.5117/2013.041.004.402
2013-12-01
2021-10-15
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