Reality blurred? : the ethical challenges and responsibilities presented by reality television

Delange, Lisa Jeanne (2002)

Thesis (M.Phil.) --Stellenbosch University, 2002.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Reality television combines various genres of entertainment to produce material that has in recent years gripped the attention of audiences across the globe. It is presented in various formats such as game or talk shows, which each reveal different ethical dilemmas to media practitioners. Reality shows place ordinary persons in exotic locations or situations where cameras capture non-scripted scenes that reveal the joy and heartache of participants. These programmes often lay the lives of normal people bare to all and, thus, the question arises as to whether it is ethical for the media to subject participants to the scrutiny of the audience in this way. Reality television has highlighted the ethical challenges and responsibilities presented to media practitioners in the modem media industry where competition may adversely affect ethical choices. In this assignment the function of journalists and their ethical position is touched on, while the medium of television, its entertainment value and the effect of commercialism on the media industry is examined. Various international and South African reality television productions are considered in an attempt to discover how current media practitioners deal with ethical challenges, and weigh up financial gain against upholding the moral values of society. The role of media practitioners as moral agents and the effect that the material they disseminate may have on their audience is furthermore discussed by using case studies. The future of reality television, particularly after the terror attacks of 11 September 2001 in the USA, is speculated and it is determined that it appears that reality-based programming will be a feature of television in the short term. Media practitioners need to realize their place in society and make ethical decisions that encourage artistic values and uplift society. Reality television presents a number of challenges in this regard and has the potential to continue to raise ethical issues in the future.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Realiteitstelevisie is 'n kombinasie van verskeie vermaaklikheidsgenres en het oor die afgelope jare die aandag van kykers wereldwyd aangegryp. Dit word op verskeie wyses aangebied soos byvoorbeeld in die vorm van speletjies- of geselsprogramme, welke elk verskillende etiese dilemmas vir media praktisyns daarstel. Hierdie programme plaas gewone persone voor die kameras op eksotiese bestemmings en in unieke situasies waar die ware blydskap en hartseer van deelnemers vasgele word op film. Hierdie programme beskou soms elke aspek van deelnemers se lewens, en dus word die vraag geopper of dit eties is vir die media om die lewens van deelnemers bloot te le vir kritiek van kykers. Realiteitstelevisie het die etiese uitdagings en veranwoordelikhede van media praktisyns in die moderne media bedryf, waar kompetisie 'n negatiewe effek op etiese keuses mag he, na vore gebring. In hierdie werkstuk word die funksie van joernaliste en hul ethiese posisie kortliks aangeraak, terwyl die middel van televisie, ·die vermaaklikheidswaarde daarvan asook die effek van kommersialisme op die media bedryf ondersoek. V erskeie internasionale en Suid-Afrikaanse realteitstelevisie produksies word hierin oorweeg in 'n poging om te ontdek hoe huidige media praktisyns etiese uitdagings hanteer en fmansiele gewin opweeg teenoor die morele waardes van die gemeenskap. Die rol van media praktisyns as morele agente en die effek van die materiaal wat hulle versprei word ook bepsreek deur middel van gevallestudies. Die toekoms van realiteitstelevisie, veral na die terreur aanvalle van 11 September 2001 in die VSA, word gespekuleer en word dit bevind dat realiteitstelevisie, minstens in die kort termyn, 'n eienskap van televisie in die toekoms sal wees. Media praktisyns moet hul plek in die samelewing besef en etiese besluit neem wat die artistieke waardes van die gemeenskap bevorder. Realiteitstelevisie opper vele uitdagings in hierdie opsig en beloof om ook in die toekoms etiese aspekte uit te lig.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/53026
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