The MEDIA IMPACT PROJECT is the research and evaluation arm of The Norman Lear Center at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. We are a hub for collecting, developing and sharing approaches for measuring the impact of media in order to better understand the role that media plays in changing knowledge, attitudes and behavior among individuals and communities.
Does Media Influence Us?
Can a film, program or news piece stir a person to action? Does media help formulate our beliefs? Sway our opinions? We work with premiere partners from the areas of media, advocacy and philanthropy to learn to what extent a piece of journalism, documentary or scripted film, television program or story changed minds and spurred its audience to action. At the Media Impact Project, we develop innovative research methods to help find the answers.
The USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center founded the Media Impact Project in 2012 with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates, Knight, and Open Society foundations, Our mission is to conduct independent research and evaluation contributing to a greater understanding of media effects on society. Our partners include media makers and philanthropies interested in working through media to promote the social good. We create and conduct program evaluation, develop and test research hypotheses, and publish and promote thought leadership on the role of media in social change.
The Media Impact Project has developed a track record for supporting news and media organizations in evaluating the impact of their efforts and our research has advanced the field of media impact measurement. Through our series of media metrics handbooks, workshops, public speaking engagements, and consultations with media makers and organizations across the spectrum, we have shared knowledge and helped establish ourselves as trusted experts and conveners in the field.
Hollywood, Health & Society
We know from existing research that entertainment can have a major influence on people’s knowledge, beliefs, attitudes and behavior. Through our research and evaluation activities, Hollywood, Health & Society (HH&S) aims to better understand—and enhance—the impact of accurate, informative storylines on health, safety and security in TV and film.
Since its inception in 2001, HH&S has conducted research to shed light on how entertainment narratives influence the knowledge, attitudes and behavior of individuals and the larger public. By studying the storylines on which HH&S consults, this research has provided an abundance of evidence supporting our entertainment industry outreach model, and highlighting the reasons why entertainment storylines are so persuasive. We incorporate processes such as narrative transportation, character identification, and emotional responses to entertainment to study topics ranging from cancer to LGBTQ+ representation to Alzheimer’s disease. In addition to our research on the impact of entertainment storylines, from 2003-2019 we conducted the TV Monitoring Project, an annual content analysis of the frequency and prominence of more than 100 health, safety, and security issues on TV. Our research findings have been disseminated to the academic community and beyond through publications in peer-reviewed journals and presentations at professional conferences, guest lectures at USC and other institutions, as well as invited talks at entertainment industry events.
In 2012, the Norman Lear Center established the Media Impact Project (MIP), expanding its research on the content and impact of media narratives beyond scripted entertainment. MIP partners with media organizations, advocacy groups, and philanthropic partners to study the ways in which a variety of media—including entertainment, documentary and feature films, journalism, and virtual reality—serve the social good. In 2019, HH&S research merged with MIP, such that MIP now oversees the entire Lear Center research portfolio—including research on HH&S-informed storylines.
The Norman Lear Center's Media Impact Project researches how entertainment and news influence our thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, knowledge and actions. We work with researchers, the film and TV industry, nonprofits, and news organizations, and share our research with the public. We are part of the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.