One key aim of journalism is to educate the public about specific instances of corruption, social injustice, and institutional inequity (and possible solutions to the same). Our goal is that the public will be influenced by these stories to create a more just society. That movement, from reporting to influence to action, is how we define impact.
Many believe that the larger an outlet’s reach, the more influence, and thus the more impact, it will have. However, reach and impact are not the same thing. Using the theory of collective impact developed by John Kania and Mark Kramer, we believe that when outlets copublish and copromote a story, their impact on public conversation--on moving people from reporting to action-- will be greater than the sum of their user numbers would suggest.
Our understanding of impact drives our commitment to collaboration, which is evident in all our projects.
The Media Consortium has begun amassing a body of research on ways to measure impact. From 2012-2015, we conducted an experiment using sentiment analysis to measure whether randomized editorial collaborations on immigration reform, climate change, charter schools, and racial justice would produce a statistically significant shift in public conversations on those issues. The initial experiments, conducted with the generous support of the Voqal Fund and in partnership with the Harvard University team led by Professor Gary King, have proved promising. See the files attached. We are actively seeking support to carry on further research in this area.