Candid photos laced with the latest gossip about TLC stars Jon and Kate Gosselin are filling grocery store check-out line magazine racks. Headlines scream: "Mom to monster" and question the couple's fidelity. Unfortunately, the couple's eight children from the hit TV reality series Jon & Kate Plus 8 are also stuck in the middle of this paparazzi merrymaking.
The show is produced by Figure 8 Films, a company which claims to have high standards, only producing shows that focus on families and medical marvels. "We are story tellers. Accuracy is very important, as is sensitivity and respect for our subject and our audience." Ironically, these more recent developments seem to fly in the face of the very values that the company preaches, namely, accuracy and ethical journalism.
It is undeniable that since the tabloid explosion, ratings have skyrocketed and TLC reported 9.8 million viewers during the season's fifth premiere. "Conflict equals ratings," says Harvey Levin, host of the gossip show and website TMZ.com. And viewers are tuning in for the drama! Drama at the expense of eight little children, who face the breakup of their family, featured on national television.
In an interview with Kate, she passionately defends herself, "My kids are the reason I have always done everything." But Kate's own brother and sister-in-law question: at what cost to the kids? "They're being exploited," says sister-in-law, Jodi. "And it's time for America to see the situation for what it really is, which is unfortunately, that there are no laws protecting children in reality TV shows. And it's time for the public to be aware of this." Both feel that Jon and Kate are "very blinded by all of this media and... fame and the fortune."
The Pennsylvania Labor Department "is gathering information" after receiving a complaint against the show. Each state has different child labor laws as well as federal laws to safeguard children's welfare. Laws protecting children in the entertainment industry began in 1939 with California's Coogan Law, named after child star Jackie Coogan. Even if the show complies with all of the state's child labor laws, the ethics behind such a show is questionable. No mother or father in their right mind would continue a TV show at the expense of their children.