Logan Nonfiction Program Gathers Journalism Community to Wrestle with Impact in Reporting

On April 11-12 the Logan Nonfiction Program organized and hosted “Evidence & Influence: Understanding the Impact of Nonprofit Journalism,” a gathering that brought 32 people representing 26 nonprofit news organizations to the Carey Institute. During the two-day convening, attendees worked toward creating common language around impact, explored how to strategically incorporate impact into editorial and financial strategies, and discussed how to best measure the impact of journalism on a society. 

The question of media impact is an urgent and complex one. At a time when journalism is put on the defensive by politicians and the public’s faith in the institution is wavering, newsrooms are forced to better understand and communicate their value in society. But before endeavoring to measure “impact,” nonprofit newsrooms must understand the goals of the industry as well as define personal organizational objectivesa more nuanced question than meets the eye. 

At the Carey Institute, we believe that quality reporting is essential to a functioning democracy and to that end we support the work of journalists who are writing about the most critical issues of our day. But how do we evaluate the impact of their work? Is their reporting “successful” if it has influenced an individual person? Received a record number of page views? Spurred community action and shifted conversation? Or only if it has changed public policy on a larger scale? 

After defining impact as both an industry and as an organization, we are able to identify best practices around how to measure that impact and communicate it to our audience as well as to our funders. The “Evidence & Influence” convening brought us closer to these goals as we worked together to progress the industry’s understanding around impact, helped to establish impact frameworks and created a channel for continued conversation around this important topic.