Ouellette, Laurie

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Female. Education: University of Massachusetts, Ph.D.


Office—Department of Media Studies, Queens College-CUNY, 65-30 Kissena Blvd., Flushing, NY 11367-1576. E-mail—[email protected].


Queens College, City University of New York, assistant professor of media studies.


Viewers Like You?: How Public TV Failed the People, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 2002.

(Editor, with Susan Murray) Reality TV: Remaking Television Culture, New York University Press (New York, NY), 2004.

Contributor to periodicals, including Utne Reader, Independent Film and Video Monthly, Cultural Studies, and Television and New Media.


An anthology about reality television.


Laurie Ouellette teaches and contributes articles about the media to both mainstream and specialized publications. She has also written a critique of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) titled Viewers Like You?: How Public TV Failed the People. Library Journal's Susan M. Colowick noted that "Ouellette sees in public broadcasting the potential to correct social injustice." In Ouellette's view, public television programming has been controlled by and produced to serve a predominantly white, male audience and in doing so, has neglected women, minorities, and blue-collar workers. Ouellette also says it is a failure of public television that it hasn't embraced popular culture, resulting in audience loss to game shows, soaps, music video programs, and other shows that run on commercial television stations and which, she feels, has resulted in the audience public television claims to represent being underserved. Ouellette also studies the history and funding of public television and changes made by public television to achieve its goals.

Lawrence K. Grossman, former president of PBS and National Broadcasting Company news, reviewed the book and commented on public broadcasting in the Columbia Journalism Review. Grossman noted that when Sesame Street announced plans to include an HIV-infected puppet in the show for the purposes of teaching children in South Africa about the disease, Representative Billy Tauzin, chairman of the House committee that controls public broadcasting's funding, threatened PBS, as did a number of other congressmen. Grossman wrote that "in a response hardly calculated to shore up confidence in pubic television's independence, PBS assured Congress it would not 'incorporate an HIV curriculum … into [ Sesame Street 's] protected, safe, education-rich environment' in this country, lamely explaining that AIDS is less of a problem here than in South Africa."

Grossman wrote that he agreed "that public television suffers from too much conventional, establishment thinking, timidity in the face of controversy and pressure, and an excessively elitist, 'we're good for you' attitude. If PBS only had a sense of humor and encouraged more independent creativity and originality, its programs would serve audiences far better." But Grossman felt that Viewers Like You? fails to offer "coherent, practical suggestions about how to make that happen." Grossman suggested that public television become the forum for democracy, continue its policy of producing quality educational programming for children, expand its capacity for education and training of adults, and add diversity to its arts and cultural programming.

Vanessa Bush wrote in Booklist that "readers interested in the media and American culture will enjoy this thought-provoking book."



Booklist, September 15, 2002, Vanessa Bush, review of Viewers Like You?: How Public TV Failed the People, p. 185.

Library Journal, October 15, 2002, Susan M. Colowick, review of Viewers Like You? p. 81.


Columbia Journalism Review,http://www.cjr.org/ (September-October, 2002), Lawrence K. Grossman, review of Viewers Like You? *