Mediated Authenticity: How Media Constructs Reality

Book signing at ICA, Puerto Rico 2015


The book explores the paradox of mediated authenticity - the idea that our understanding of society is based on mediated representations of reality. A key argument is 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.



Stavanger, 19.11.2015

Sydney, 18.03.2016

Helsinki, 09.04.2016

Philadelphia, 15.04.2016 

Quebeck, 23.04.2016



Review in The International Journal of Press/Politics  

Review in Nordicom Review 

Review i Norsk medietidsskift 

«A terrific and timely book that through a historical journey of authenticity in the broadcast and digital ages gives us new ways of thinking about mediated authenticity and reveals the complex relationships we have with what we discover (or perhaps always already knew) to be the illusion of the real.» (Jennifer Stromer-Galley, Syracuse University) 

«Enli offers an important new way to think about the history of reality as presented by the media. The book demonstrates how the media secure public faith, as well as why people’s faith in the media breaks down over time.» (Lynn Spigel, Northwestern University)

«A fascinating study of the ambiguity at the heart of all mediated communication. Real or not? True or not? Authentic… or not? In ‘Mediated Authenticity’ Gunn Enli deftly examines how radio, television and social media construct reality and how global audiences respond to them. An invaluable contribution to current international research into reality TV and beyond.» (Paddy Scannell, University of Michigan)