Length: 820 words (2.3 double-spaced pages)
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
“Frontline” exposure of current affairs programs makes a mockery of journalistic integrity.
Through humorous portrayals of important issues, and clever imitation “Frontline” makes veiwers aware of ridicule towards journalistic integrity.
While current affairs programs are based on real life stories, which are enhanced to ‘make good news’, Frontline is based on the making of these stories.
Frontlines purpose is to inform the audience of the life behind a current affair program but more importantly its main focus is on entertaining the audience. This is achieved in many ways, primarily by bending real life situations out of contempt to journalists uprightness.
Current affair programs do not take stories as they are and simply present them with the facts, they are sensationalised and enhanced to bring more entertainment value to them, however this is not widely known throughout the general public. Furthermore it’s exactly what Frontline did with “The Siege” and “Dessert Angel” when it complemented certain factors of the story to make them sound more entertaining than the boring facts. By ‘enhancing’ the facts and manipulating the truth it made the stories more presentable to the audience as a form of entertainment and mockery in regards to journalists. This was spoken about in the “Dessert Angel” episode when Marty shows Stu how anyone can be turned into ‘good media fodder’
Frontline is aimed at being a comedy program and therefore has a main purpose of comedy and entertainment rather than informing.
Most nightly current affair programs struggle to get articles for each night. Most with three or four articles a night have a very tight and limited time schedule to prepare each night. Therefore with such a limited time they are unable to really concentrate on the serious analysis of some current affairs programs. ‘Frontline’ exaggerates and exposes this concept in the episode ‘Desert Angel’, where ‘Frontlines’ integrity is taunted as it secures an exclusive with Australian aid worker Jessica Steckle, whom a week before was given a funeral by the team at Frontline with Mike providing the eulogy. The issue is made humorous with the bidding war scene directly following Mike’s adamant speech that the team at ‘Frontline’ do have ethics and integrity. Whilst the episode maintains its criticism of current affairs programs and journalists by indicating that ‘bidding wars’ and ‘chequebook journalism’ are rife though-out such programs.
In ‘The Siege’, ‘Frontline’ again tackles an exceptionally topical issue, and interspersing ironic humour to signify their criticisms.
A man takes his children hostage and the team at ‘Frontline’ set to work. Brooke interviews the gunman’s mother and after the first take, exclaims ‘again with more feeling’. On the spot reporter Marty slips on a flak jacket and crouches in the grass to provide more dramatic impact to the siege report. Back in the studio Emma engages the gunman on the phone, preventing the police from making contact. This episode of ‘Frontline’ rates through the roof, which is the only priority for the current affairs team. Even the criticisms of the team’s ethics by the police commissioner are seen as good publicity. This episode is particularly ironic in humour as we see the dark-side of the team at ‘Frontline’. It is a very clever episode as it humorously imitates and reveals the lengths that current affairs teams will go to in the name of a story in very critical fashion.
In the last shot of this scene the loony is heard talking to Mike More and then he shoots his hostages. Only the sound is heard. Then the series ends. The viewers are left to conclude that the interference of journalists can be very dangerous, just as the police had warned earlier in the show.
‘We aint got dames’ deals with a more light hearted topic, but the formula of imitating current affairs teams to criticise the lack of morals and ethics in current affairs journalists through humour remains the same.
The team at ‘Frontline’ become aware the number of female viewers is dwindling. In an attempt to win back female viewer’s and boost rating they screen more female-friendly stories. This was shown when Mike Moore created a story on the abuse of the women working in sweatshop factories, without Mike knowing Brian Thompson changed the story into a fashion story in an effort to regain the audience which had been lost.
The theme of the episode is the importance of ratings, the length that these networks ‘flagships’ will go to attract viewers. Another ‘send-up’ of current affairs shows, that criticises the fact they they provide ‘entertainment pieces’ rather than reports on ‘serious issues’. The episode demonstrates that ratings are the one and only priority for current affairs programs again attacking their ethics or lack there of.
As a television comedy “Frontline” brings a specific set of formal properties and concerns which reflect on its ability to satirise. Through-out the episodes ‘Frontline’ constantly ridicules and exposes journalistic integrity and absence of ethics.