Good Use of Media

by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Good Use of Media, PRESS, Stuff We Love

Downton Abbey..yeah, you could say I’m hooked. Which is why on Wednesday night I was in my TV glory.

I sat with a lucky bunch of NYC fans, to view a special screening of the popular PBS British-American series, followed up by Q & A with a bevy of the actors from Downton. Who knew how hip Mr. Carson (played by Jim Carter) was in real life or how sincere Thomas Barrow (Rob James-Collier) was? Going into season 3, they’re a somewhat modest bunch that seem to be soaking in the show’s success.


Thank you PBS for including me at such an event and a HUGE thank you to Julian Fellowes for writing every single episode of such a quality program..which is what PBS is all about.

So if you’re a fan, what is it that draws you into Downton Abbey?

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What do we want for our children?

I want my daughters to believe that they can do anything that they want to do..within reason.  I want my daughters to learn everything they need to know to go out into the world and make a difference.  I want them to learn, 1st & foremost, what will make them happy. Especially as an Executive Producer in Children’s TV, I am uber aware of the influence that media has on all of us, including my daughters.

“Kids spend nearly 55 hrs a week watching television, texting or playing video games.”  -The Daily Green

What they see & hear truly affects their view of the world.  I give careful thought to even the smallest details in my shows – what the characters eat, how they feel, what they do, which character traits go with which character, and whether or not they should be boys or girls.  It’s important to me that we don’t show our characters eating sugary snacks and cakes for a “special occasion” because, truth be told, it’s always a special occasion on a television show. In addition, one study found that 98% of food ads seen by children on top-rated shows were for junk food  –Health & US News

We know that boys are more reluctant readers, so we intentionally chose our main character, Super Why, to be a boy. We know that there are much fewer girls on television so we made our main character, Blue, a girl.  And we made sure that she didn’t have long eyelashes nor a cute little bow. She is blue. And she is a girl.

But when I look at media as a whole, for my own daughters, I worry. As much as I can talk with them and model for them the type of women I would like them to grow up to be, I find that in media, women are still typecast in traditional roles, while men are portrayed as the more dominant figures. Women are stereotypically represented as dependent and emotional. Women are the mothers, and men are the bread winners. Women are under represented in television about 3:1.

The fact that a majority of voice-overs on television are male, that there are more male news readers on TV & that many of the major film directors are men indicates that it is the male who has the authority & the control of the world of TV.” –Elena Beasley

This presents a male view of the world. When women are featured, their voices in commercials are often used to sell products such as laundry detergent, diapers & jewelry. And it should also comes as no surprise that advertisers typically use women as sex objects to sell a wide array of products.

We know there are no limits to what our children can do. So why are we feeding our children the idea of limits in the form of media?

And what can we do about it?

A lot.    [Thanks for joining us Bonbon Break friends!]


  1. Model behavior in your own lives that needn’t be so defined by gender

  2. Talk with your kids about such issues when opportunities present themselves in your day to day

  3. Limit the amount of questionable media our kids ingest..the same way in which we limit the amount of sugar they eat.

  4. Keep their dreams and expectations for themselves free and unrestrained

And I’ll do my part by continuing to write strong, smart female characters that create their own destinies!

by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, Good Use of Media, Parenting

Long before Mitt Romney announced that he’d take a pass on federally funding PBS, there has been much back and forth on this issue. It’s prompted me to think about what the world would be like without PBS…because let’s face it, if it’s not assisted by the public, the agenda is different and it’s no longer the Public Broadcasting System.

I would not be who I am today without PBS.

Growing up, I honestly couldn’t sit any closer to the television when Mister Rogers Neighborhood was on. He inspired me to get my Masters Degree in Developmental psychology. He inspired me to think bigger and think different about what we could offer kid. I read study after study that talked about how if you “create content with the intent to teach” you could reach millions of people using television. “If a show is grounded in a strong educational curriculum, then kids will learn.” Study after study proved this to be true.

Sesame Street has had over 1,000 research studies proving its impact & effect. We have summative studies done by the University of Pennsylvania that statistically proved that kids who watched Super Why on PBS scored significantly better on standardized reading tests, than those who did not.  In fact, the effects were even BIGGER in lower-income households.

We were making a difference where it was needed the most.

What we found was that in order for young children to learn to read, they need multiple and sustained enriching experiences with language, storytelling, and early reading.

Preliminary evidence suggests that SUPER WHY! Not only engaged preschoolers (e.g., over 97% reported liking SUPER WHY!) but also provided critical instruction through its language & literacy enriching activities and lessons. Exposure to these activities and lessons enhanced preschoolers’ early literacy skills, resulting in learning the content directly featured in the program. The ultimate goal of learning, however, is to be able to successfully transfer information or skills acquired in one context to another context.

As parents, we see the effects of media every day.  Whether positive or negative, we see how much the media inspires our kids and ourselves to try something new, to use different vocabulary, or to be motivated to learn to read a book.

While such is true for children, the same also holds true in regards to older content. Offer information that educates and people are more likely to make smarter decisions that will behoove themselves and society.

So, what would the landscape look like without PBS?

[welcome, if you joined us from Bonbon Break!]

At the end of the day, children’s television producers at PBS go through a rigorous amount of vetting to ensure that their program is going to positively effect children. If it is a Ready to Learn property, producers sit in front of a board at the Department of Education, every year, and prove why the content works. We report on:

  • How many incidences of education per minute are in our show?
  • What is our basis of our education curriculum & strategy?
  • We must show proof from research studies that our shows are effectively teaching children through media.

We have strong advisory boards of the best teachers, educators and researches who all weigh in on our shows. In addition to this, the PBS Kids Executives also ensures that everything they air, meets their high standards as well. If we didn’t have PBS, show content would most likely veer more towards the side of entertainment than education.

As a preschooler, I learned through Mister Rogers that “there is only one I in the whole world” and that people like me “Just the way I am”.  I grew up inspired by PBS to bring learning, respect & a voice to kids everywhere.  If TV is a window into the world, then a world without PBS is one that I worry about.

by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Good Use of Media, Kids

1 of my favorite aspects of doing what I do is meeting new talent in Children’s TV who are as passionate, excited & as invested in this area. Years back, the coordinators at Nickelodeon would meet up & talk about what each of us do in our respective areas.  It was an exhilarating time (pre-internet!) for us to share info, our career aspirations & to have a cheering squad that helped us succeed.  I’m happy to report that 15 years later we are all in integral roles at the major kids networks or producing & creating our own content, still cheering each other on.

Today, The Children’s Media Association (previously known as Women In Children’s Media) is the REAL DEAL! An organization dedicated to professionals in children’s media with events, networking & access to the leaders in this area. I would have loved to have that when I was starting out!  The President of CMA, Sarah Wallendjack, is also my incredible Producer for Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and Super Why!

 I asked Sarah a few questions about the new CMA, as well as her role as President:


AS: Congratulations on your success, Sarah!  How do you find the time to do it all? 

SW: When you are passionate about something, you seem to find the time.  I am pretty lucky that I am fueled by both my day job AND this organization. Although I admit that I sometimes run on fumes, I have learned how to manage my time differently as a result of this position. 

 Why the need to change the name from WICM to CMA?

It was never our intention to be exclusive & we found that men were sheepish about attending our events. Women are not the minority in this industry & the name change has allowed us to broaden our reach & expand. It is our goal to connect all professionals in research, licensing, publishing, marketing, theater, television, digital, & music that are making the best quality content for children.

 What is different about CMA from other organizations?

There are many great organizations that provide resources for professionals in media, but we focus specifically on Children’s Media.  We take a fun & youthful approach to our events where you can connect with others in the industry, gain knowledge & collaborate. I don’t know any other organization that have you playing with puppets 1 night, rocking out to kindie music another & discussing the merits of the latest potty app with your peers.

What is coming up that you are most excited about? 

We are in the process of expanding our website to become a larger resource for members.  We have been collecting content from experts in the field to keep members abreast of the latest research & trends. This will give members who are unable to attend an event the opportunity to stay connected.  This new section of the website will also provide members with the opportunity to connect. 

Oh, & the holiday party.  We throw a super fun holiday party – save the date – December 6th

Do you have any success stories of people getting jobs, starting projects or meeting new people because of CMA?

SO MANY!  Our job board is an amazing resource and has been connecting members with fulfilling job opportunities. I am constantly hearing about people finding jobs through CMA.  We challenged 1 of our members to attend all the events in 2011 & blog about it. He wanted to get a job in children’s media & by the holiday party that year, had accepted a position at Nick.  He is now writing scripts for 1 of their pre-school properties & couldn’t be happier.   

Who would be the most exciting person you could get for a CMA event? Besides you..of course?  

There are some really influential authors I would love to meet.  I would love to sit down with Judy Blume, Mo Willems, or JK Rowling.

As President, what do you hope for CMA in the future? 

I hope the organization will continue to grow & expand into other cities. I find such value in this network & take full advantage of the networking & professional development opportunities. It is a small world, & I think we become stronger by being able to learn from each other & share ideas.

 How many members do you have & what is the cost of membership?  

220 & growing.  Membership is $150 annually, but we are offering our VERY LAST membership discount ever before we introduce an initiation fee structure.  With the code CMACONNECT, new members can join for a 20% discount.  This offer is only valid through October 31st, so NOW is the time to join.

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by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Good Use of Media, Stuff We Love

I made some new friends last night (oh hello, Jason Mraz) at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Washington, DC) where Ellen DeGeneres was awarded The Mark Twain Prize for American Humor .

DeGeneres joked “Thanks to everyone at PBS. I am so happy to be part of your farewell season,” taking a slight jab at Mitt Romney’s plan to halt the fed’s funding of PBS.

I would like to think Ellen & I would be good friends. We both believe in the importance of humor, we both want to use tv to spread the idea of ”being kind” to your neighbor and we both support pbs.

CREDIT:Alex Brandon/AP

Congrats to Ellen on her prestigious Mark Twain prize and special thanks to Exec Producer, Exec VP & Chief Programming Officer of WETA, Dalton Delan, for inviting me!  It was an amazing night!

[Tune into PBS to watch this event on Oct. 30 on PBS stations]



by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Good Use of Media, Parenting, PRESS

During last night’s 1st Presidential Debate, Mitt Romney (who seemingly understands the importance of quality education) stated “I’m going to the stop the subsidy to PBS.”


Regardless of political view, why is it unclear to some that PBS is one of our Most Important Educational Tools (at a yearly fed. investment of $1.35 per American per year)?

Why would anyone close “America’s Biggest Classroom”?

Please, let us know your thoughts on this & go to for more information

by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, Good Use of Media

With the premiere of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood coming up on Monday, I recently spoke with Moms LA about the show and why/how such a pro social curriculum is used to educate children. If you have any questions about the show, please comment below.



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I spoke at BlogHer 2012, Keeping Things Private in a Public, Digital World, with NY Times moderator Jennifer Preston and fellow panelists Lynne Seitz & Vicky Colf (Warner Bros) about the ongoing changes in regulations & privacy agreements that leave the end user confused and vulnerable. While there are all types of informative ways to help protect oneself in the online world, I came out of the BlogHer conference with 5 main points top of mind:

•  Turn OFF geo tagging (or geo location) on your phone’s camera app settings – unless you choose to allow the public to know your private details which are embedded within those shared pictures

Try not to share with everyone – only selected users (i.e. semi-personal information with your friends..not friends of friends)

• DO NOT simply rely on a company’s privacy plan because they constantly change. Stay updated & change your perspective as these terms of service change.

• Think more than twice about allowing apps to share each others data. While you may trust Facebook or Twitter, those cute lil’ 3rd parties rarely have the same privacy terms

READ those terms of’ll be very surprised at what they’re having you agree to.

Last week the Federal Trade Commission attempted to tighten up the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) – in particular, the collection of personal data from children’s websites/services and also to create a more concrete definition of personal information. While it looks like a step in the right direction only time will tell.


What steps do you take to keep your information private or what methods give you peace of mind in the online world?

by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Good Use of Media, My Projects, Parenting, Stuff We Love

Angela's Clues

I’ve been a contributor to web-land for only about a year and a half, but I’ve met so many wonderful people with amazing stories and strong voices. Kathy Radigan (from My Dishwasher’s Possessed) and Val Curtis (from Mental Chew) are two women from within such a talent pool.

On July 16, 2012, they launched the premiere issue of their weekly magazine, Bonbon Break..because every mama needs one. I’m honored that they’ve asked me to be a regular contributor among such a strong team of writers and moms.

Check it out when you happen to find a nice break for yourself.


Angela's Clues

Sure I enjoy whatever glitz I might receive from working in the “entertainment” biz, but I really am a research geek at heart. There’s nothing like having your hard work tested, then not only approved but given a confirmation that it is statistically effective by the top researchers in the country, and the icing…children will benefit from the work!

Just a few days ago, Barbara E. Lovitts, Ph.D. (Dir. of Research & Evaluation of the Corp. for Public Broadcasting) shared the analysis of our Super Why Summer Reading Camps with us. The thorough study entitled Reading & Learning: Building Literacy With Public Media by James Marshall & Diane Lapp (San Diego State Univ) details public broadcasting’s support of emergent literacy for 30 years and how Super Why!, through the support of PBS & the CPB, meets the needs of children.

Angela's Clues

While they probably won’t make today’s cover story, here are a few of our favorite snippets from the study:

“Super WHY! & its media-rich content has demonstrated consistent and replicable results over time.”


Reading is power & Super WHY! is the only preschool program created to help children learn the fundamentals of reading through interactive storybook adventures.


Children showed significant gains no matter what their age or ethnicity…They achieved greater post test scores, relative to pretest scores, for each literacy focus area & the full assessment.


Children were able to transfer the episode-specific content to new & novel uses of the same skill set.

Feel free to read (& share!) James Marshall & Diane Lapp’s entire study HERE and if you are willing/able, please support your public broadcasting station & the Corp. for Public Broadcasting



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