Assessing Impact of Media

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How to use our media impact assessment resources, Part II

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.

If the Earth Day marches of last weekend are any indication, people still care about science—but it is under increasing attack. For our part (and because we promised to do so), we’ve turned our attention to the impact of science communications, most recently in February at the University of Florida’s Frank gathering. There, we held a successful and informative meeting for funders who are increasingly concerned with getting important messages to stick and combating scientific misinformation and disinformation. That meeting was made possible by support from the Rita Allen Foundation, which is dedicated to research on this topic.

As we have learned, science—and the ways in which scientific facts are communicated through media—affect many facets of society that funders care about, from education to the environment to public health. Last month, we announced an exciting collaboration with Rita Allen: to dig deeper by convening interested funders and diving into multidisciplinary research.

In the meantime, we have continued to curate relevant materials, which you can find here. Over the coming months, we’ll be sharing deeper analyses on how scientific evidence, media and communications, beliefs, and behaviors intersect in complicated ways that can have a profound impact on our democracy.

Assessing the Impact of Media: FAQ

How did this project come about?

Since 2013, our AIM Initiative has provided resources for funders and media producers looking to build impact strategies and evaluate media projects. Funded by the Rita Allen Foundation, the Wyncote Foundation and the Knight Foundation, this curated collection of resources includes the latest impact tools, research reports, news articles, and original analyses by MIF staff and leaders in the field.

What do we mean by impact?

As we’ve discussed here before, when we talk about assessing the impact of media, we don’t mean simply counting up how many people experienced a particular piece of media. As our original research has shown, funders and producers have realized that there is much more to impact than these traditional metrics, and each program or project has its own particular impact goals (increasing diversity, changing a law, inspiring community conversation around a particular issue, amplifying voices that are not often heard, etc.) Deciding on the appropriate impact model for a particular project is an individualized process, which is why we curate and publish a collection of frameworks and tools to help funders and media makers plan and tell their impact stories.

What is Media Impact Funders doing to help funders understand and track impact?

We run the AIM initiative, which includes a repository of impact-related content, original analysis pieces on impact trends, and a monthly impact newsletter that rounds up the highlights. We also convene funders to discuss impact, and conduct original research on how funders are thinking about and assessing impact in the field.

How can I search the AIM collection of resources to find what I need?

  • Under “Analysis,” read original think pieces from Media Impact Funders staff, members, and leaders in the field.
  • Under “Research,” find scholarly reports, case studies, impact research and analyses of the shifting media landscape from research centers, institutions, consulting firms and foundations.
  • Under “Articles,” see recent news articles and blog posts from popular publications about how practitioners and funders are thinking about media impact and strategy, and weighing how as emerging media trends shifts strategy.
  • Under “Tools,” explore dashboards, metrics tracking software, and impact measurement frameworks.

You can also search impact resources related to specific social issues, media types, and resource types using the search database on the right side of the main AIM page.

If you are interested in a specific issue (beyond assessing the impact of related media projects) you can explore our entire site by issue. For example, returning to our interest in science, if you select “Science and Technology” in our drop-down menu of Issues, you’ll see all science and technology-related impact materials, news from the field, MIF events, and media funded by MIF members. Explore other issues—including Education, Environment, Health, and much more—the same way.

Where can I learn more?

Still confused about where to start? Visit our new Impact: The Basics page for background info and some foundational impact resources from Media Impact Funders and our partners. Or just start browsing our AIM collection and see what you discover!

We are continuously trying to best serve your needs—what else can we do to improve our AIM initiative to make it more useful to our network? Please, reach out and let us know what you’d like to see!