LOS ANGELES, June 15, 2015 — Cities and other government jurisdictions need detailed criteria and standards to help them efficiently develop their open data initiatives, according to a report released today by Open Data LA, a project of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy.
The report, The State of Open Data in Los Angeles County: A Framework, proposes that governments define open data success based on measurable indicators of a city’s level of open data expertise and leadership in driving sustainable open data initiatives. The framework suggests revising and blending two sets of existing criteria – the U.S. City Open Data Census ratings and the financial transparency criteria developed by CALPIRG, a public interest research group. Eight incorporated cities in Los Angeles County are rated under the revised criteria, including the city of Los Angeles, which currently holds the top ranking in the census.
“We believe we should hold governments accountable for building a sustainable foundation, and for evaluating progress based on the breadth and quality of the datasets themselves,” reads the report. “Cities and other government jurisdictions, large and small, have started many open data initiatives over the past two years. This flurry of activity, while admirable, raises several questions. Do governments have open data strategies and goals? How much progress have they made? Will their open data initiatives be sustained beyond the next round of elections?”
Open Data LA will expanding and applying the framework to more cities, and also will be exploring the roles of governments, news organizations and other groups. "Robust, sustainable open data initiatives are essential for increasing government transparency and fostering civic participation," said Dana Chinn, a journalism faculty member and the project lead. "Open data is more than just hackathons. The current ranking systems just don't provide the information needed to know whether city open data initiatives are really having an impact."
The full report is available online at:
By Johanna Blakley, Managing Director & Director of Research, Norman Lear Center
The degree of personalization and algorithmic curation used in the delivery of mobile news was a key theme at ONA Mobile, which brought together an international array of digital-savvy journalists in the organization’s first convening outside the U.S. The Lear Center’s Media Impact Project sponsored the conference, in part, because we see mobile fast-becoming the primary platform for news delivery. And, although mobile is still very much in a Wild West phase, where accepted standards are few and far between, the opportunities to measure real impact on people’s lives is simply unprecedented.
As many speakers acknowledged, mobile is “very hard” but the pay-offs are definitely worth the pain. Between the rigors of submitting to Apple, maintaining mobile-responsive websites, reformatting for Snapchat, and navigating the ever-changing rules at Facebook, mobile news providers are constantly challenged to make it pithier and make it relevant. In many ways, I’d argue that mobile pushes journalists to achieve a new level of rigor in reporting.
By Dana Chinn, Director of the Media Impact Project, and Johanna Blakley, co-Principal Investigator of the Media Impact Project
This year BRITDOC had five winners of its Impact Award - not one winner and four finalists as in previous years. Was this yet another example of everyone getting a trophy just for showing up? We don't think so. We think it was a reflection of the increasing complexity of measuring media impact, and a recognition that "impact" can't be measured by counting discrete things such as the number of attendees at screenings.
The Impact Award recognizes documentary films that have had "significant and measurable social or environment impact." Just by looking at this year's winners you can see that it'd be ludicrous to select one winner by some numerical formula of "most" or "best."
By Dana Chinn, Media Impact Project Director
I am really looking forward to the Media Analytics Summit next week. It's being run by Jim Sterne, the founder of many things analytics, including eMetrics and the Digital Analytics Association.
Jim, who really knows how to run a results-oriented conference, e-mailed attendees the following questions:
At first I didn't respond, as the summit's primary goal is to "share ideas and best practices for how analytics drives profitability." After all, the Media Impact Project is focused on audience analytics, or how analytics can be used by newsrooms and content creators to increase and deepen their impact.
But, after Jim sent a reminder e-mail to us laggards, I responded with:
By Marty Kaplan, Director, Norman Lear Center
What do you call it when media try to manipulate your feelings without first asking for informed consent?
Example: The average Facebook user sees only 20 percent of the 1,500 stories per day that could have shown up in their news feed. The posts you receive are determined by algorithms whose bottom line is Facebook's bottom line. The company is constantly adjusting all kinds of dials, quietly looking for the optimal mix to make us spend more of our time and money on Facebook. Of course the more we're on Facebook, the more information they have about us to fine-tune their formulas for picking ads to show us. That's their business model: We create and give Facebook, for free, the content they use and the data they mine to hold our attention, which Facebook in turn sells to advertisers.
By Johanna Blakley, Managing Director and Director of Research
The New York Times devoted significant ink this week to The Participant Index (TPI), an effort by Participant Media to quantify and compare the relative social impact of films, TV shows and online video. The article also mentioned the Lear Center's $4.2 million Media Impact Project, which has consulted on the development of TPI.
Participant approached the Lear Center because of its academic expertise in measuring the impact of educational messages embedded in entertainment content. The Center's Hollywood, Health & Society program has partnered with the CDC for the last 14 years to look at how health storylines in popular TV shows affect viewers' knowledge, attitudes and behavior. The survey component of
By Thomas Baekdal, originally posted on Baekdal.com
One of the key things my clients almost always ask me is what to measure? How do you make sure you get the right picture, or what we in industry-speak call 'Key Performance Indicators' (KPIs). And it's such an important question.
It's important to note though that what KPIs you focus on depends entirely on your specific business. No business should measure the same things. It all depends what you do as a brand, what products you make, your business and pricing models, where your income is coming from (direct, indirect, advertising), your distribution networks and so forth. And each approach has a different set of KPIs.
By Johanna Blakley, Managing Director & Director of Research
Last week I attended a high-caliber symposium co-sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the UK’s Cultural Value Project. They brought together a dizzying array of researchers (demographers, cognitive scientists, arts policy wonks, “recovering” academics, etc.) to discuss how we ought to measure participation in arts and culture on the local, regional, national and global scale.
“Participation” and “engagement” are key metrics for arts institutions and their funders. But the inquiry often ends right there. I think the vast majority of people in the arts – including artists and administrators – take it as a given that art has a beneficial effect on society. I happen to agree with them. Wholeheartedly. But many powerful people in this world – including those who hold the purse strings – are not necessarily convinced. Funding for the arts is paltry compared to expenditures on science, where, lo and behold, we have a lot of convincing evidence about the importance it holds for humanity.
From James Robinson at the Nieman Journalism Lab:
"Since its creation last April, The New York Times’ News Analytics team has been working closely with editors and reporters to introduce audience insights into our journalistic decision-making — one of the key newsroom initiatives the Times has identified as being critical to our success."
Read More Here.
By Johanna Blakley, Managing Director & Director of Research
I was honored to give the Industry Keynote at Hot Docs, a giant documentary film festival in Toronto. I don't know what they put in that water (which was delicious, by the way) but Torontonians love, love LOVE documentaries. They have a 700 seat theater that, year round, shows docs only, and I was completely charmed by its tagline: ESCAPE TO REALITY.
Of all conventional TV and film genres, you could easily argue that documentary is the one that is most self-conscious about its artful manipulation of reality. Since much of my research focuses on the impact of entertainment and media on individuals, communities and society at large, documentaries have proven an especially exciting object of study. (I have a TEDx talk about some of this research.)
In order to prep myself for the fest - which included a whopping 197 documentaries - I thought I'd revisit some survey research that we conducted at the Lear Center on the relationship betweenpolitical beliefs and entertainment preferences. We discovered in those studies that predictable patterns emerged suggesting that even our escapes from reality - to ballets, tractor pulls, and blockbuster films - were tethered quite tightly to our deeply held beliefs about the world and how it ought to be.
For a nerd like me, this is absolutely fascinating stuff.
Our archive of data - from two large American representative sample surveys, and from a smaller version we conducted in Tunisia after the Arab Spring - includes detailed demographic, ideological and taste information about documentary film fans. Hot Docs gave me an excellent excuse to mine that data.
So here's what we did:
We compared people who expressed a high preference for documentary films to those who expressed very little interest in the genre. We looked at their politics, their demographics and their entertainment preferences and found that the most profound differences were in taste: for instance documentary lovers are
•55% more likely to watch educational programming
•They're almost 40% more likely to watch science and nature programmingThose characteristics accounted for the largest differences between the groups, and they seemed to make a lot of sense: these folks have a pronounced preference for entertainment that informs them about reality.Preferences about book genres were similarly revealing. When I asked the audience at Hot Docs whether they would make a bee-line to non-fiction or fiction sections in a book store, they overwhelmingly selected non-fiction. So did our survey respondents.
This preference for reality-based entertainment and media was fascinating to me because our research had revealed that the documentary genre was generally preferred by people at the liberal end of the ideological spectrum. Conservatives were more likely to express preferences for entertainment programming that comported with reality: sports and business programming, for instance, with action adventure being the only fictional genre that they were more likely to prefer.
We also found that documentary lovers are about one quarter more likely to enjoy arts programming, which matched their increased likelihood to visit art museums and galleries. But just in case you were thinking that they were getting soft (ahem), they are also more likely to enjoy entertainment that contains political themes, which would seem to indicate that even when doc lovers depart from reality-based genres, they still like to grapple with the ideological issues that define life outside the movie theater or concert hall.
They are also significantly bigger fans of dramas, comedies and blues music. We asked about a dozen different sports and found that doc lovers were more likely to express a preference for baseball, compared to "doc haters."
Demographically, the differences between these groups were far less significant than these difference in taste. But there was one exception: they were less likely to be born again Christians.
Race, income, gender, geography - we looked at all of these factors and found only minor differences between doc lovers and doc haters.
Are you a documentary film lover? Let me know whether this portrait describes you. Either leave a comment here or email me at email@example.com.
Media Impact Project
A hub for collecting, developing and sharing approaches for measuring the impact of media.