BLOG:What news organisations should do to map the impact?

Tayyeb Afridi
Tayyeb Afridi
Managing editor, Tribal News Network (TNN). Twitter @TayyebAfridi, FB: tayyeb.afridi Linkedin:

Tayyeb Afridi

There are tons of loads of information available online almost on every topic but people looking for news and information usually look for news organisations that are organised in their niche, and credible in their outfit.

We all know that news is no longer a one-way communication where the publisher would only have to deliver information while ignoring information needs of the audience. Also, we all know this is true that you cannot ignore audience but do news organisations spearhead efforts to know their audience deeply and do they bother to allocate funds?

And we also know that there are tools that can be used to identify which story was well received and which wasn’t. But beyond that, can we say more with certainty?

These are questions to be asked from itself whether a news organisation is big or small. So what efforts need to be initiated by news organisations to map the impact of their work? I asked this question from few individuals who work in news and media development industry and here are their responses.

“Newsrooms need to start by understanding what kind of change they want to bring to the lives of their audience and then decide how they can monitor if that’s happening or not. From there, they can start to think about actual measurements. Just ‘report the news’ isn’t enough – journalists should be aiming to give people the information they need to make their lives better as a collective society, and as individuals. Whose lives, what is ‘better’, how does journalism do that through investigation and sharing information… those are the important details that each newsroom needs to figure out for themselves.” — Andrew Losowsky, award winning writer and journalist, and head of @CoralProject.

“News organisations will need to set up unique metrics by project to assess impact, particularly for larger initiatives. This will require resources that can do both quantitative and qualitative assessment during and after a project’s completion. This may include social listening and attention to future policy and press on an issue. It may also include follow up interviews and focus groups with those affected by the project.”
Professor Cindy Royal– School of Journalism and Mass Communication and founding director of Media Innovation Lab.

“There are a number of ways for news organizations to both measure and amplify the impact of their work. They include holding public events where the journalists and/or the subjects of their stories discuss the work and take questions from the audience. If nobody shows up, it’s a telling sign. If many people want to participate, that’s a good sign that the work had an impact. Another is to invite feedback and have journalists participate in the stream, responding to readers, answering questions, directing people to further research or stories they might be interested in. Again, if nobody shows up, bad sign. If many participate, that’s good. Of course a common measure is whether legislation has been introduced as a result of a story or series of stories. But perhaps a more subtle measure would be whether the work you produce changes the dialog in a community. There are many ways to measure that. But one way would be to see whether terms, names, or ideas show up in social media or other news broadcasts or minutes of public meetings much more often after work has appeared that introduced those terms, names or ideas than before the stories were published or broadcast. Another good measure is whether a community is talking about your work. Are people paying attention to you or not? That’s critical.”
John Temple, Director, and Adjunct Professor of Investigative Reporting Programme, Graduate School of Journalism, University of California, Berkeley.

“News organisations can do a much better at measuring the impact of their content by tracking actionable outcomes, for example changes in government policy, public spending decisions, improvement to local services or legal justice over corruption. But the most important way news organisations can better judge impact is through genuine, quality engagement with the community they serve. Journalists need to know who they are speaking to and remain in a conversation with the audience, listening as much as “broadcasting” news and feeding insights back into the news gathering process. This approach would stop news organisations appearing opaque and irrelevant, and build trust and credibility in an age of information overload.”
Aela Callan, documentary filmmaker, and Journalist based in Berlin. She is also co-founder of

“What you measure is related to what you want to achieve and the impact you want to have as media organisation? So, do you – as media organisation – want to encourage dialogue and social cohesion in society (e.g. can be the case in a conflict area like Syria)? Do you want to encourage democratic values within society? Do you want to empower women because you publish a women’s magazine and your target group is female?” These are the questions one should ask from itself in order to understand the audience needs.
Peter Van Lier, Facilitator of innovation sessions + innovation manager and team leader at the non-profit media organisation, Free press Unlimited.

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