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Matea Gold is Still in LA, Investigating Shady Legal Underbelly of Reality TV

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LA Times television media reporter, soon to be Tribune Company DC-based election correspondent, Matea Gold is making good use of her time left in LA. Over the weekend, the LA Times ran a long story under the byline of Gold and Richard Verrier investigating the shady to nonexistent labor protections for children appearing in reality TV shows.

In all, The Times found that 11 shows filming in eight states had not filed paperwork to hire minors. Regulators in California, Florida, Georgia and Virginia are now looking into whether production companies violated child labor rules.

But they may be in the clear legally.

The confusion over what laws apply to reality television befits a genre that occupies a gray zone. A hybrid of docu-style filmmaking and dramatic storytelling, reality shows have exploded in popularity in the last decade, raising a host of ethical questions along the way. The latest wave of shows centered on kids alarms child psychologists. But there are few government safeguards in place to monitor these productions.

Because producers say reality show kids are participants in documentary-style programs and not employees, child labor laws are rarely applied. And because these productions have largely resisted unionization, they do not have to comply with guild rules set up to protect child performers.

An interesting piece, worth the read. Here’s hoping Gold cranks out a few more lengthy investigations before she heads to DC around Labor Day.

Previously on FBLA: Matea Gold of the LA Times Goes to Washington

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