Impact is a much-discussed concept in journalism these days because of the availability of user and engagement metrics and the need to prove value to funders, subscribers, sources and subjects. While on one level it seems straightforward enough – does our journalism affect our audience? how do we know? in what way? – impact can be difficult to measure. Impact is important because it can be related to news organization’s financial success and level of social engagement.
Impact of specific news outlets and ecosystems is likely best understood within the following context:
- An outmoded mainstream media structure that has stature among decision-makers and news consumers, but hasn’t always covered all important issues comprehensively or built community around their news, particularly in minority communities.
- An overall decline in the number of journalists covering public interest issues
- A fractured news landscape with (likely) disparate readerships and undefined ability to perform watchdog functions
- Increasingly scarce resources and no proven sustainability model for news organizations focused on public interest issues
- Effects of the above on the openness, transparency and accountability of public officials and corporate and civic leaders
- The tremendous opportunities enabled by technology for responding rapidly to information needs and holding leaders to public account
CPIJ hopes to begin a conversation about impact of public interest news within the Philadelphia region. While there are smart folks thinking about this at a national level who we will plan to highlight in future posts, we know that local news organizations are struggling with these questions. The Center plans to begin a series of Q&A’s here with news organization leaders and staff to begin to define impact, how to measure it, and how to ensure their organizations maximize it. The Q&A’s will begin with AxisPhilly CEO Neil Budde and focus on how he plans to incorporate impact into the work of his new organization. The initial base questions (which will be adjusted as we proceed) can be seen here. Q&A’s are expected to be posted weekly and hopefully culminate in an event for discussion. It is also our hope that we’ll hear from the local public interest news community about what impact means and how best to measure it. Thoughts can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Expected outcomes of this series: https://www.cpijournalism.org/2013/01/23/expected-outcomes-and-impact-of-cpijs-series-on-impact/
Impact Q&A series: