How the news media activate public expression and influence national agendas
November 10 2017
This multi-year study published in Science, in which 48 small media outlets were recruited to write articles on specific subjects on randomly assigned dates, finds that “exposure to the news media causes Americans to take public stands on specific issues, join national policy conversations, and express themselves publicly—all key components of democratic politics—more often than they would otherwise.”
The back-of-the-envelope guide to communications strategy
September 7 2017
This four-question framework for communicating effectively about complex issues is designed to help advocates move away from “raising awareness” and toward specific, measurable goals—and it’s simple enough to fit on the back of an envelope.
The De-Jargonizer helps scientists and science communication professionals increase impact by adapting their messages to wider audiences. The tool classifies language into three tiers, highlighting inaccessible jargon so that scientists can either replace it with more commonly understood words or offer additional explanations.
Editor’s note: Earlier this month, Media Impact Funders brought funders together at Philanthropy New York with organizers and presenters from the first VR for Change summit to explore how immersive platforms offer new ways to engage and mobilize users around social issues.
Because this is a new and quickly evolving medium, attendees had many questions. The lively conversation ranged across definitions of new technologies, ways to match funders’ goals to VR productions, emerging research on impact, and the costs of supporting such projects as platforms continue to roll out.
Diana Barrett of the Fledgling Fund has thought through many of these questions in her own practice. In this post adapted from a piece published in the online publication Immerse, she shares what she’s learned about the impact of VR, and how Fledgling chooses the projects they support.
Can Bill Nye—or any other science show—really save the world?
April 25 2017
What impact can science education TV shows have on public attitudes toward and knowledge of scientific issues? “In an ideal world,” a team of researchers notes, “by entertaining a wide range of viewers,” such programs “could effectively dismantle enduring beliefs that are at odds with scientific evidence.” However, their research indicates that such programs have audiences filled with people who are already “highly educated, knowledgeable about science and receptive to scientific evidence.”
Earlier this year, we discussed the ways in which we’ll be continuing to improve our Assessing the Impact of Media (AIM) Initiative throughout 2017, and highlighted how we’ve been thinking about media impact and strategy so far. Since our subscriber list for the AIM newsletter has more than doubled in the past year, we wanted to take a moment to orient newcomers to this important part of our work. So, here’s a quick update on our recent progress, plus an FAQ on how to make the most of the AIM tools and resources we collect.
Does engagement in advocacy hurt the credibility of scientists? Results from a randomized national survey experiment
February 27 2017
This study, published in Environmental Communication, reveals that participating in advocacy does not undermine the credibility of scientists or the scientific community. However, “even if people do not object to scientists engaging in advocacy per se (as opposed to refraining from advocacy), they still may object to a specific position that is advocated.”
Break form: Making stories with and for the people
February 6 2017
This report from Edison Research examines the impact of AIR’s Localore: Finding America project, and offers strategies for journalists and audio producers seeking to tell more representative- and community-based stories.
Data shows that using science in an argument just makes people more partisan
December 23 2016
Yale behavioral economist Dan Kahan’s research reveals that the use of reason is more likely to increase partisan beliefs than to reduce them, for liberals and conservatives alike. Kahan has also found that people with greater scientific intelligence are actually more likely to take partisan positions on unfamiliar subjects. In contrast, those are less likely to take partisan positions tend to demonstrate higher levels of “scientific curiosity.”
Neural correlates of maintaining one’s political beliefs in the face of counterevidence
December 23 2016
Using neuroimaging, scientists from UCLA and Project Reason set out to uncover what happens in the brain when strongly held political convictions are challenged. They found that these kinds of challenges produced increased activity in the default mode network, which is associated with self-identity, as well as in the amygdala, which is associated with negative emotions. These results indicate that our brains process information that relates to our firmly held beliefs differently from the way they process other information—which may provide insight for those seeking to correct misinformation and change minds.
Narrative style influences citation frequency in climate change science
December 15 2016
In a study of 732 climate change-related abstracts from 19 journals, researchers from the University of Washington discovered that abstracts written in a more narrative style garnered more citations, and that influential journals were more likely to include studies written in a narrative style. These results indicate that “writing in a more narrative style increases the uptake and influence of articles in climate literature, and perhaps in scientific literature more broadly.”