The Public Media Company is looking to drum up support to pilot the Public Media Database, an all-in-one dashboard to help stations track finances, audience ratings and the impact of their journalism on listeners. The concept is to cull data from a variety of sources, reach agreement about which metrics are significant and weed out the less important information. Each station would maintain a database of measurements, to be displayed in a dashboard for easy access and review. Uniform metrics among stations would help them compare performance and make presentations to funders. PMC, a nonprofit based in Boulder, Colo., hopes that adding participating stations will enable more meaningful comparisons of metrics across the public radio system.
“Impact” is a feel-good media buzzword of the moment, increasingly required by the funders of many projects and invoked by some PTV stations, news organizations and documentary producers as key to demonstrating the social good derived from their work. But defining the concept and then measuring whether a media project has demonstrated its value remain elusive challenges for many. During “Understanding Impact,” a two-day symposium convened last month at American University in Washington, D.C., participants explored a number of the ad hoc systems for tracking impact that are taking form. Organizations including the Center for Investigative Reporting in Emeryville, Calif., and KETC, the Nine Network of St. Louis, have developed their own methodologies and hired staff members to measure the impact of their work.
A new survey of more than 460 community partners in CPB’s American Graduate project found enthusiasm for the station-based dropout-prevention initiative as well as challenges to overcome. The 66-page report, produced by the Civic Enterprises public-policy consulting firm and the Everyone Graduates Center at the Johns Hopkins University School of Education, found that 74 percent of 145 responding partner organizations indicated their belief that public media “provided opportunities that will have a lasting effect on youth” through the initiative. Eighty-five percent said that public media will help tackle the problem in their community in the future by building “knowledge, capacity and engagement.”
The online survey was developed by the Hopkins center, CPB and Nine Network of Public Media, a lead station in the multi-year initiative. Participating stations located in high-need communities where dropout rates are critical identified partners to be included in the survey sample. The research concluded in August.