After laughing through the premiere episode of MTV’s "The Paper" this week, a few red flags were raised while watching what seems like one of the network’s not-so-real reality shows like "Laguna Beach" and "The Hills."
Back in 2007, MTV held an open casting call looking for video submissions from students willing to give the inside scoop from their newspaper office, including their responsibilities at the paper, what interests them about the news as well as important stuff like who they’re dating.
As a former editor-in-chief from Florida, I hate to admit that I identified with Amanda Lorber’s supposed real-life caricature of a high school overachiever. When she says, "Journalists are the most important part of the world. They really are," I cracked up because, well, that could’ve been a quote pulled from my journal back in the day.
However, is this show for real? While you can find the editor’s cheeky column online here, Lorber comes across in "The Paper" more like an Andrea Zuckerman archetype from "Beverly Hills 90210" and less like a real high school editor.
After checking out the Cypress Bay High School Web site in Weston, Fla. they list The Circuit on their homepage. In fact, you can read articles from the paper’s archives here where they confirm all of the staffers featured in the MTV reality show, including Lorber.
My question: Where are the archives of The Circuit prior to Sept. 2007? According to the premiere episode, Lorber was the copy editor during the '06-'07 school year before MTV started filming but the paper's online archive doesn't reflect this backstory. (Note: After posting this blog, the old site is accessible here.)
According to an article in Broadcasting & Cable, The Circuit "won several local journalism accolades including awards from the Florida Scholastic Press Association and the Sun-Sentinel’s 'best overall' award in 2004 and 2005."
While the history of the paper checks out, it still seems a little fishy to me. The whole thing gets creepier after reading comments from the staff here where they state over and over that "The Paper" is no "Laguna Beach" and that it's 100 percent real. Um, OK.
Cypress Bay is a real high school. In fact, it’s one of the largest schools in the country. But I wouldn’t be surprised if MTV did some creative casting by shipping in a few students from across the country to manufacture some made-for-TV drama for "The Paper."
Meanwhile, get the inside scoop on the show here. "The Paper" airs 10:30 p.m. Mondays on MTV.
UPDATE: Compared to last week’s premiere, tonight's episode came across a bit more "real" except for Lorber’s disillusioned soliloquies and "Eye of the Tiger" sing-along. The editor talks about how she had a crush on Alex, the managing editor, back in Hebrew school which gives some backstory.
However, "The Paper" still comes across eerily contrived and, well, scripted.
UPDATE 2: Amanda Lorber from "The Paper" is off to NYU, but she’s not looking to capitalize on her MTV fame. Lorber tells NYU's Washington Square News, “I want to have a fresh start, and I want to be kind of a normal student, not that girl who was on an MTV reality show.” (Washington Square News)