Database for public media looks to standardize, simplify station metrics

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.

WHYY prototypes dashboard to measure audience engagement

An attempt by Philadelphia’s WHYY to measure the impact of its news website has its execs asking bigger questions about the best ways to gauge success in public media. In July 2013, WHYY needed an accurate and effective way to measure the progress of NewsWorks, the station’s digital news venture, launched in 2010. The station talked with CPB, a primary funder of NewsWorks, about integrating an R&D budget for site analytics into the next phase of NewsWorks’s grant. “At some point during that conversation, we got to talking about Google Analytics and how many phantoms Google Analytics make people chase,”said Chris Satullo, v.p. of news and civic dialogue at WHYY. The popular analytics service provides data that, according to Satullo,“sound really important but [are] really set up for e-commerce” rather than public service.

Pubmedia symposium examines how to define, quantify impact

“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.

Public Radio Capital rebrands, launches new projects 

Pubmedia consulting company Public Radio Capital has rebranded as Public Media Company and announced a pair of upcoming projects that reflect its desire to expand its client base. The 12-year-old Denver-based operation announced the name change April 22, along with a website redesign. Public Media Company will also grow its operations with Channel X, an online marketplace for public media video content, and the Public Media Database, a performance-metric platform for stations. “The scope of our work has broadened pretty dramatically,” said CEO Marc Hand. Public Media Company had been working with joint licensees and pubTV stations for years before its name change.

David Oliphant of Pittsburgh Foundation

Foundations favor grantees with digital, local news chops

By giving two seminal news-related grants last year, the Pittsburgh Foundation broke from what chief executive Grant Oliphant described as the foundation’s history of “generic support” for public media. Answering the call from the Knight Foundation for matching grants to address gaps in local news coverage …