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Mediated Authenticity

How the Media Constructs Reality

Gunn Enli

This book explores the paradox of mediated authenticity – the idea that our understanding of society is based on mediated representations of reality. Enli argues that mediated authenticity is established through negotiations between producers and audiences in what is coined the ‘authenticity contract’. Sometimes the contract is broken, leading to authenticity scandals and the need to renegotiate this contract. These moments of truth, some of which are analysed in this book, are important moments in media history. Through case studies, this book examines mediated authenticity in broadcast and online media, from the infamous War of the Worlds broadcast, quiz show scandals, to manufactured reality-TV shows, blog hoaxes and fake social media, and the construction of Obama as an authentic politician. The book demonstrates that authenticity has become an increasingly important factor in the media, and that solving ‘authenticity puzzles’ – separating the fake from the real – has become an inherent practice of media use.


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A Adorno, Theodor, 38 Airbnb (housing rental website), 90 All the President’s Men (film), 5 American Family, An (documentary), 69–70 Anna Nicole Show, The (2002–2003), 72–73 Arraff, Amina. See “Gay Girl in Damascus, A” (2011) Arrival of a Train (Lumière), 50 Arsenio Hall (show), 71 Associated Press Twitter account (@AP), 93 Astaire, Fred, 54 Audacity of Hope, The (Obama), 116–118 audio-visual broadcasting, 46, 51–52 B Baird, John Logie, 47 Banet-Weiser, Sarah, 3 Barthes, Roland, 15, 39–40 Baudrillard, Jean, 8 Bauman, Zygmunt, 3 Benjamin, Walter, 7, 23 Big Brother, 68 Blair Witch Project, The (film), 70 blogs, 94–104 See also under social media, authenticity puzzles in Boorstin, Daniel, 5, 7–8 Boyle, Susan, 20, 74–76 See also under reality TV, Susan Boyle “Bree,” 96–99, 102, 106 Britain’s Got Talent (ITV), 74, 78–80, 82–84 160 mediated authenticity British Press Complaints Commission (PCC), 78 Browne, Gordon, 78 Bush, George W., 113 C canned laughter, 1–2 Cantril, H., 40n Carvin, Andy, 102–104 celebrity, 60–62, 72–74, 76, 78–79, 84–85, 114, 123–124 cinéma vérité—truthful cinema, 69–70 Clinton, Bill, 71–72, 71nn7–8, 109, 112 Cobain, Kurt, 13 Coca Cola Company, 6 Communications Act of 1934, 46 Couldry, Nick, 9 Cowan, Louis G., 56, 63n3 Cowell, Simon, 84 Creative Artist Agency, 102 Culture Industry, The (Adorno and Horkheimer), 7 culture of lying, 6 D Dating Game, The (ABC, 1965–1973), 10 David Letterman Show...

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