Fall Colors: Prime Time Diversity Report, 2002

Jan 02, 2002

Download file: fall_colors_2002.pdf

Television, particularly prime time programming, occupies a central position in our culture as a storyteller, conveying much about what is normal, acceptable and expected, as well as what is irrelevant and outside of the mainstream. It also possesses a unique opportunity to shape the perceptions and opinions of millions. The 2000 Census has revealed not only rapid changes in the racial and ethnic diversity of the United States but also new emerging characteristics of marriage, family, the workforce and class status. Inarguably, these changes have implications for the well-being of young people today and in the years ahead. In any discussion of how we prepare young people for the challenges they will face in the coming years, we must take into account the narrative that television presents to us about ourselves.

What story does prime time television tell our youth about diversity and tolerance through its portrayals and non-portrayals of race, gender and class? Can it better serve both the developmental needs and aesthetic desires of our nation’s young people? What kinds of opportunities does and can it provide for cross-cultural learning?

Children Now’s previous research has demonstrated that youth recognize the role media play in providing lessons about diversity and in validating diverse communities. Children Now’s current research shows that despite ongoing emphasis, encouragement and pressure on the part of media advocates, civil rights groups, government officials and even some entertainment industry leaders, the networks have yet to produce a prime time season that is representative of the diversity that young people experience and will undoubtedly continue to experience as maturing adults.

Fall Colors documents the television industry’s progress on diversity and serves as a tool to help executives, writers and producers improve the images of race, class and gender on prime time television. It is the most comprehensive study to date of prime time diversity.

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