MTV’s “Juvies” is what news could be

Five years ago, I wrote an essay about MTV and how the case could be made that their news and documentary unit was cranking out a form of news for young people. Everything is done “reality show” style, but the channel really does a great job of offering issues that are quite impactful. Here’s a graph from that paper:

The point is if you are a young person in western culture, these programs meet your information needs about growing up and living life. No lectures. No lessons. No right way or wrong way. They simply express, through the life experiences of others, what life is or can be like for the target demographics of MTV. It’s very postmodern and, frankly, it’s brilliant. Reality works, because it can’t be hyped and manipulated — things these people increasingly see through.

MTV’s program “Juvies” is another great example. It’s no longer in production (although there’s talk that it’s moving to MSNBC), but you can catch them on-demand on the MTV website (here). My hat’s off to the production team and the Indiana Department of Corrections for agreeing to give MTV access involving juvenile offenders. The show is real life, and that’s what makes it so gripping. These aren’t “reports” done like a conventional newsroom would do them; they’re the real life stories of kids in trouble, and viewers get to see the whole mess, including the hearings, the tears, the pain, and the exasperation of the system.

When I see this kind of stuff, I keep asking myself why somebody doesn’t do this at the local level. We chuckle at reality shows and make fun of everything about them, but the truth is the style is effective, and I think the more our culture is exposed to these types of programs, the greater the likelihood people will be willing to participate. When that happens, we’ll see them as part of mainstream news gathering.

Wouldn’t that be something?


  1. did you ever catch rosenblum’s reality effort?

    the vid is on youtube under rosenblumtv… “detroit homicide”.

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