The ultimate goal of any news organization is to benefit the lives of its audience. Providing news that acts as a catalyst for change is one of the core tenets of journalism. Journalists can expose corruption through investigative reporting, share life-saving health knowledge, influence government action, and provide important information needed for vibrant civic engagement.
The U.S. Agency for Global Media is no different. Its mission, and thus its ultimate basis for impact, is “to inform, engage and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy.”
Why measure impact?
Every day, USAGM networks work in some of the most repressive media environments in the world to inform, engage and connect with their audiences in support of freedom and democracy. The Agency needs to measure more than just audience size to ensure it achieves this mission, it must intimately understand how its networks are affecting the lives of their audiences. This is why the agency concentrated on one of its new top priorities–developing a streamlined Impact Model—with a sharp focus.
How does USAGM measure impact?
The Agency has had an Impact Model since 2012. But its new tool is much more comprehensive and optimized for measuring impact in the varied and complicated media environments in which the Agency’s networks operate. The new Impact Model, refined in 2016, measures the Agency’s ability to inform, engage and connect with its audiences.
The model examines 12 core and 28 optional quantitative and qualitative indicators to assess their effectiveness of the USAGM networks. The model evaluates data collected through representative surveys, digital metrics, qualitative research, and other sources including anecdotal evidence. Besides estimating weekly audience sizes, the Impact Model tracks indicators such as the credibility and uniqueness of the networks’ coverage; audience participation rates and how often consumers share content with others; and whether content prompts action such as a modified behavior, a policy change or a cultural shift.
This complex combination of variables adapts to the Agency’s unique operating environments and provides a strategic roadmap for future implementation.
How does USAGM use impact?
The feedback gained from the Impact Model plays a crucial role in the development of the Agency’s strategy and planning. Dynamic geopolitical environments coupled with rapid changes in information and communication technologies mean audience needs are constantly evolving. The Impact Model allows the Agency to assess its ability to meet those needs and to determine whether to make changes to its strategy or implementation.