Producing Public Television, Producing Public Culture

Princeton University Press, 1998 M07 21 - 240 páginas

From 1989 to 1991, Barry Dornfeld had an unusual double role on the crew of the major PBS documentary series Childhood. As a researcher for the series, he investigated the relationship between children and media. As an anthropologist, however, his subject was the television production process itself--examining, for example, how producers developed the series, negotiated with their academic advisors, and shaped footage shot around the world into seven programs. He presents the results of his fieldwork in this groundbreaking study--one of the first to take an ethnographic approach to the production of a television show, as opposed to its reception.

Dornfeld begins with a broad discussion of public television's role in American culture and goes on to examine documentaries as a form of popular anthropology. Drawing on his observations of Childhood, he considers the documentary form as a kind of "imagining," in which both producers and viewers construct understandings of themselves and others, revealing their conceptions of culture and history and their ideologies of cultural difference and universality. He argues that producers of culture should also be understood as consumers who conduct their work through an active envisioning of the audience. Dornfeld explores as well how intellectual media professionals struggle with the institutional and cultural forces surrounding television that promote entertainment at the expense of education. The book provides a rare glimpse behind the scenes of a major documentary and demonstrates the value of an ethnographic approach to the study of media production.

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Studying Public Television as American Public Culture
Childhood on the Contested Territory of Public Television in the United States
Negotiating Documentary Production Authorship and Imagined audiences
Public Television Documentary Poetics
Cutting across Cultures Public Television Documentary and Representations of Otherness
Public Television Documentary and the Mediation of American Public Culture
Organizational Chart of the Childhood Staff
List of Academic Observers and Advisors
Synopsis of the Childhood Series
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Acerca del autor (1998)

Barry Dornfeld is an Associate at the Center for Applied Research in Philadelphia and is a producer of documentary ethnographic films. His films include Powerhouse for God (1988) and Gandy Dancers (1992).

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