The Dark Side of "Reality TV": Professional Ethics and the Treatment of "Reality" -Show Participants

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


This article proposes an inventory of key ethical issues emerging from the production of reality TV shows, with a primary focus on participants’ rights/interests and program makers’ responsibilities. The analysis is structured according to four categories of potential harm (intrusion, humiliation, misrepresentation, and appropriation) and different stages of the production process, integrating theorizations on media, documentary, and image ethics with insights derived from 48 semistructured qualitative interviews with reality professionals and participants and several contracts. It is argued that professional practice needs to be informed by ethical considerations and accountability measures, touching a middle ground between incident-centered and all-encompassing critiques and between structural factors at industry and genre levels and (situational) measures of agency and differentiation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2179-2200
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Communication
Issue number/
Publication statusPublished - 28 Apr 2016


Dive into the research topics of 'The Dark Side of "Reality TV": Professional Ethics and the Treatment of "Reality" -Show Participants'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this