The ultimate goal of any news organization is to benefit the lives of its audience. Whether exposing corruption through investigative reporting, sharing life-saving health knowledge, influencing government action or providing important information needed for vibrant civic engagement, trying to provide news that acts as a catalyst for change is one of the core tenets of journalism. The Broadcasting Board of Governors is no different—it’s 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, the BBG 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. To evaluate its ability to accomplish this mission, the BBG must measure more than just audience size – it must intimately understand how its networks are affecting the lives of their audiences. This is why the agency enthusiastically addressed one of its new priorities – developing a streamlined Impact Model with a sharper focus.
How does the BBG measure impact?
The BBG has had an Impact Model since 2012. But its new tool is much more comprehensive for measuring impact in the varied and complicated media environments in which the agency’s networks operate. The new BBG Impact Model, refined in 2016, measures the BBG’s ability to inform, engage and connect with its audiences.
The full model examines 12 core and 28 optional quantitative and qualitative indicators that can be used by the BBG networks to assess their effectiveness. The model is fed by data collected through representative surveys, digital metrics, qualitative research, and other sources, such as anecdotal evidence. In addition to estimating the weekly audience size, the Impact Model measures indicators including the credibility and uniqueness of the networks’ coverage; audience participation rates and if audience members shared the content with others; and whether content prompts some form of action such as an adopted health behavior, a policy change or a cultural shift.
This complex combination of proxies has been designed with the BBG’s unique operating environments in mind and provides a strategic roadmap for future implementation.
How does the BBG use impact?
The feedback gained from the Impact Model plays a crucial role in influencing the BBG’s strategy and planning. Dynamic geopolitical environments and rapid changes in information and communication technologies mean audience needs are constantly evolving. The Impact Model allows the BBG to assess its ability to meet those needs and determine whether changes need to be made to its strategy or implementation.
BBG CEO and Director John Lansing, keenly aware of the value of this information, has designated an emphasis of impact over reach as one of the agency’s top five priorities. He recognizes that in today’s digital and engaged media environment, the BBG must zero in on more than just reach as it aims to inform, engage and connect with its audiences.