Public Faces: A Content Analysis of Gender, Ethnic, and Racial Diversity on PBS Public Deposited

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  • March 19, 2019
  • Davis, Kelly Kent
    • Affiliation: Hussman School of Journalism and Media
  • When educational television became public television in 1967, careful consideration was given to its role in American culture. Congress, the Carnegie Commission, and numerous industry panels all commented that this new entity--funded in part by tax revenue--would serve the interests of communities of people who lacked strength in numbers or power. It would be a forum where minorities in body or creed would have a voice. It would reflect the true plurality of the United States. However, just ten years later, an internal review would find an overwhelming lack of diversity, and criticism over this issue has continued since that time. Drawing upon normative theories relating to media's role in society, the research reported in this dissertation evaluated the fulfillment of PBS's intended role as a public television entity in American society. Based on a content analysis of a representative sample of PBS's primetime offerings in 2011, programs were analyzed for gender, racial, and ethnic diversity. While the prominence, story function, and prestige of minorities on public television are not significantly different from those of men and non-Hispanic Whites, the PBS national primetime schedule falls far short of fair representation of these groups and women. Additionally, gender inequity was found in occupational prestige and role prominence, where women were less likely to be cast as reporters or hosts in nonfiction programs and men were more likely than women to appear in high-prestige occupations. By providing a quantitative analysis of diversity on this often-ignored broadcasting entity, this study informs the ongoing debate over the place of public television in our society.
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  • In Copyright
  • Aikat, Debashis
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Graduation year
  • 2012

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