Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Should Journalists Portray Themselves on Fictional Shows?

In the latest season of "House of Cards," you will see real journalists - like George Stephanopoulos, Chuck Todd, Jake Tapper and Dana Bush - playing the role of journalists.

They are asking questions about the fictional presidential race and opining about Frank Underwood's America Works program. Chuck Todd appears on the set of "Meet The Press," interviewing actors who are serving as political commentators. He is essentially acting as a journalist who hosts a political talk show ... except that he is an actual journalist who hosts that real talk show.

Does this blur the line between fact and fiction?

Should journalists appear on fictional programming? Or does this undermine their credibility to be trustworthy journalists?

7 comments:

Chip Frenette said...

Entertainment is entertainment. Who is to say that a journalist cannot pursue more than one avenue in the media. Is it wrong for an athlete to play themselves on TV? How about a politician or a doctor, portraying themselves? If one cannot distinguish the fantasy from reality when watching a show with Chuck Todd playing himself in a fictional role and reality, maybe they need to get some psychotropic medications prescribed by a competent psychopharmacologist and stay away from televisions and such.

Rosella Eleanor LaFevre said...

This is one of my favorite things about Season 3 of House of Cards, actually. I don't see a credibility problem with it for the journalists because I'm intelligent enough to know the difference between their appearances on my favorite fictional programming and their real shows/work. And now that I think about it, I prefer the real-journalist-appearing-on-fictional-programming to characters like Perd Hapley on Parks & Rec. As much as I loved Parks & Rec, Perd truly annoyed me; I think those kinds of characters actually damage the reputation of journalists or add to negative perceptions of them. But maybe I'm crazy....

Tracy Yatsko said...

What Chip said in class and again in his comment above is priceless and I couldn't agree more. (Although sometimes in my dreams I wish the President on the show Scandal was the actual President of the United States.)

Amanda Giuffrida said...

I agree with what Chip said in class the other day, as well. Why is it wrong for a journalist to portray themselves on other media forums, even if they are fictitious? There is a difference between a news setting and the set of a show or production. Did Dr. Phil damage his reputation by appearing in "Scary Movie 4" as himself and saying, "bulls***"? No. Was the credibility of his work or TV show undermined because of this? No, because there is a line separating fact from fiction, and Dr. Phil's viewers are aware of that. Did it cause any controversy? I am sure it did somewhere. There will always be banter and debate over issues, but this shouldn't discredit the seriousness of the work that they truly do. The makers of the show used Chuck Todd to recreate a political interview, but that is the whole point isn't it? That TV shows are a recreation of reality, and people watch them for that purpose. However, if you don't understand the difference than...maybe you should stick to only one media outlet to avoid confusion.

Harrison TaleseRhodes said...

I think whether a problem exists depends on how the journalist is presented. I don't think there's anything wrong with a journalist staging a segment of their ACTUAL show with fictional characters as guests because it does a lot in placing entertainment media in a real world context. I think it would be a step backwards for the film business to avoid including real world identities in film or television, even with journalists, because it would further distort the accuracy of the image of the world that is presented to the public and will be presented to the future public. I think the issue here is the assumption that people will blend fiction and reality which will cause distrust of the journalist. However, people should be held responsible for analyzing any and all information that comes their way.

Iman S said...

Entertainment is not journalism. The participation of journalists-as-themselves in fictional TV shows only merges the line between reality and fiction, news and entertainment, journalists and celebrity. It reduces media to a spectacle, rather than an objective repository of facts and information that enhance the understanding of a citizen. The only reason these journalists made it to House of Cards in the first place is because their preexisting visibility and status as celebrity prove lucrative to the show, evidencing the transformation of journalist into celebrity and thus undermining their credibility. Audiences are entertained, but that comes at the ultimate cost of their critical thinking, giving way instead to apathy and mindless consumption of media.

Henry Savage said...

I don't think it would have any correlation between the Journalist's reality reporting, if they appear as themselves in entertainment. They're also not writing their script in these shows. In real life, they are doing the actual report.