Reporting on the writers' strike reinforcing the myth of "unscripted" reality TV
Jennifer Pozner has an excellent post about how the coverage of the WGA strike is reinforcing the myth of unscripted reality TV.
The conventional wisdom is that if the WGA strike is prolonged, producers will lean heavily on the reality TV format because these shows don't require writers.
Actually, as Jennifer explains, these shows do involve writers, just not usually WGA members:
[N]ews reports have generally not clarified for readers that these shows do, indeed, involve writers. Non-union writers (and story editors, video editors, and hands-on producers and directors), all of whom collaborate to achieve the networks’, executive producers’, and integrated advertisers’ desired story arcs.
Inside the media industry, this is perfectly understood. Outside the industry, not so much. For example, how many regular reality TV viewers know that groups of reality TV writers have, with the help of the WGA, attempted to sue producers of reality shows such as “The Bachelor” for violating labor laws and working them in “sweatshop conditions,” claiming that their storytelling services have been drastically underpaid?
It's hardly shocking that reality TV is to reality what
WWF WWE is to wrestling.
The point is that the journalists should be more critical of the studios' self-serving implication that reality shows reduce the need for WGA writers because they don't have scripts.