Children's Television Workshop

b. 1968, New York, NY

Educational TV pioneers

In the late 1960s, Joan Ganz Cooney and a few likeminded collaborators sought a new, creative way to connect with children using television. The Children’s Television Workshop wanted to avoid the segregation of education from entertainment, and to create a programming environment in which young viewers would be safe from commercial manipulation by advertisers. Finally, they wanted to prioritize serving audiences of nonwhite and lower-income children. Grittily urban, multicultural and kid-safe, Sesame Street was CTW’s first and most celebrated result. Flaws in the formula were immediately evident; early seasons were criticized for reinforcing patriarchal assumptions and for making only a limited commitment to Spanish-speaking viewers. More recently, advertising has crept onto Sesame Street, with programs bracketed by corporate pitches from the likes of Pfizer and McDonald’s. Nevertheless, CTW set an enduring international standard for children's TV marked by idealistic values of diversity, cooperation and understanding.

The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey