Blog Post

Move the Meter: A Moving Target

Evaluating the impact of journalism and communications
October 23, 2017

Journalism can result in very public displays of impact – stories that lead to indictments, resignations and policy change.
But gone are the days of venerable, imposing journalistic institutions that are inherently and automatically trusted by the public.
Bitterly divided politics and the rise of fake news – and accusations of fake news – have inspired news organizations to find new and innovative ways to remind us of their position at the center of a functional, free democratic system.
The USA Today Network, for its part, developed Impact Tracker for this purpose, which is designed to measure “real-world change” resulting from the organization’s reporting.
Journalists manually add impact information and tie it back to stories, allowing the information to be filtered by story, impact, date or author.
Though painstaking, USA Today is betting it’s a step worth taking.
As the industry continues to evolve, today’s journalists understand that in order to stay relevant – and financially viable – news organizations must be able to quantify their impact beyond just clicks.
From Laura Bernero, Owned Media Strategist
The economic impact of Amazon’s future HQ2, on the other hand, is not hard to quantify.
The multi-billion-dollar investment with the promise of up to 50,000 new jobs is a top prize that cities around the country are vying to win.
Cities are getting creative to get the company’s attention. and dedicated channels on Twitter and Instagram are inviting Coloradans to share what they love about our state in hopes that Amazon might come to love it, too.
We’re looking forward to seeing how this crowd-sourced support model will have an impact – and how that impact will be measured.
From Lisa Alcorn, Senior Account Manager:
Studies show that, despite our urge to multitask, humans are prone to mistakes and time-wasting when they try to focus on more than one task at a time.
This can be chocked up to the fact that we have limited mental bandwidth: If we are concentrating on one thing, we simply don’t have the mental space to also focus on something else.
For people living in poverty, this has profound implications. When people have to spend so much mental energy just to scrape by and meet their basic needs, their mental bandwidth suffers, new research shows.
Gaining a better understanding of “behavioral economics” and mental bandwidth has implications for communicators, policymakers and other advocates, as we work to craft campaigns, programs and policies that have a positive impact on low-income families.
From Kathleen Ryan, Project Manager:
Americans’ stress levels are on the rise. Given a string of tragic disasters, polarized politics and sharpening global tensions, it’s little wonder.
But that doesn’t tell the full story. Constantly checking our smartphones, and the never-ending stream of stimulation in our social media feeds, increases our anxiety level.
But don’t worry, there’s an app for that.  Mindfulness apps, increasing in both number and popularity, can turn the smartphone culprit into a calming influence.

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