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This chapter examines the ways in which the watchdog role of the news media oftentimes collides with the bottom-line objective of entertainment media when it comes to stories of women behind bars and notably of their children left behind. These inmates’ true stories are sometimes shadowed behind distorted notions of so-called reality entertainment; their real-life stories become skewed behind the storylines, confusing the viewer with a warped sense of reality. This paper provides an in-depth look at several examples of how traditional and new media, including reality television, profile incarcerated women and their children, and debates the media’s role in the social construction of reality. Finally, the author questions whether the worlds of news and entertainment can coexist when it comes to such coverage, to conclude that though seemingly far-fetched, entertainment can intersect with news if those in decision-making positions in both industries make a commitment to use impactful media strategies.
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- Women Behind Bars: Dissecting Social Constructs Mediated by News and Reality TV
Jennifer C. Thomas