Reality Check

17 May

Did you know since its inception there have been more than a thousand reality shows on cable television?   Mind you, some of them are more popular than others, but there is a strong appetite for this new type of medium.  In this world of social media, we as a society, have unprecedented access to peoples’ personal lives.  Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, and Foursquare are among the hundreds of  social media networks.  Some people have become so consumed with engaging in social networking they cannot stop, perhaps, fearing isolation.  The obsession, so prevalent, some psychologists are coining the term “social media addiction.”   That’s right—addicted to social media. 


We are converting into a culture so intrigued and entertained by the lives of others, it really comes as no surprise that reality television is rising to the top of the rating charts.  Some of the top rated reality shows right now are Celebrity  Apprentice, Dancing with the Stars, The Bad Girls Club, Kendra, Teen Mom, and Keeping up with the Kardashians.   The subject of some of the shows includes, watching young girls struggle as they face parenthood alone, a former playboy playmate making a fool of herself, and a rich family bickering about what, to most of us, are extremely trivial matters.  When things go wrong on a reality show, we are really interested.  A celebrity dancer hits the floor on Dancing With The Stars or a stunt goes wrong on America’s Got Talent and it goes viral within hours and becomes fodder for satirical television programs.   (The Onion)    Three months ago, Whitney Houston  died in an accidental drowning.  The world watched as the news broke and now it seems the world will watch as her  family, including her daughter, deal with the loss.  Lifetime is launching “The Houston Family Chronicles,” promising to show the Houston family bravely living their lives as they bond together to heal.  (Remote Access-New Reality Show)


Reality television isn’t anything new.  It has been around for decades.  However, in the late 90’s the threat of a writer’s strike brought on a rebirth of reality tv.  CBS picked up Survivor, which is still on the air today.  The Bachelorette season premiere just aired May 14th.  That reality show is in its eighth season.  American Idol is winding down on its eleventh season.   Hunting, fishing, dancing, singing, antiquing, dog training, trucking, dating, parenting, restoring, arresting–you name it, there is a reality show to fit just about anyone’s interest.

As more people become interested and tune in to watch the lives of others, some television stations are finding they are losing rating points to reality shows.  Social media certainly isn’t helping.  Many people are getting their fill of daily news  as they update their status, send out tweets or check-in on Foursquare.  In this forever evolving climate of social media, local news stations must adapt to their new audience.  Journalists  must find creative ways to tell their stories and when suitable, find characters that bring an element of entertainment to the newscast.  If that doesn’t work, there’s always slow jamming the news.




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