Back in May, we started to think about how a TV Station could help its city cope with the then emerging mortgage crisis. Thanks to CPB, we at KETC got our chance to test our ideas that we could.
The test is over and the results are in. A major part of the project was measurement. We knew that emotion and anecdote - powerful as it is - would not be enough.
How do we measure media? In most cases on air we can get a sense of who is watching. On the web we know exactly who is watching. As we started the experiment to see if a Public TV station could help a community help itself we had to know more - we had to know if what we did - on air, on the web, in person and by measuring itself (Remember in Quantum the act of measurement affects the measured) had an impact.
Would what we did activate action?
Would what we did change perceptions?
Would what we did have a result in improving the health of our community?
Might acting as a social catalyst be the higher goal and role for public media?
Well dear readers, the research is in - yes to all of the above.
A huge thank you to Professor Dhavan Shah and his wonderful team at the University of Wisconsin (see follow on)
One of the points that we measured was the number of calls that the United Way got from people seeking help timed against our on air pieces. Here you can see a massive bump directly related to what we did. There is more - we found that the act of measuring/surveying had also a huge impact
One of the points that we measured was the number of calls that the United Way got from people seeking help timed against our on air pieces. Here you can see a massive bump directly related to what we did.
There is more - we found that the act of measuring/surveying had also a huge impact
I have shared with you just the highlights - we have a lot more information that tells us that not only were we able to shift beliefs, motivate reaching out and action but also increase support for the station.
It is going to be fascinating to see what happens as this work spreads more broadly in the public TV and Radio world.
It's one thing to bring good content and information to the public. It is another to be able to help activate the public to take back power and control into their lives.
I feel that we are on the edge of a breakthrough - the networked world is finding its place and its organization
Dhavan V. Shah is Louis A. and Mary E. Maier-Bascom Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and holds appointments in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the Department of Political Science. His research concerns the social psychology of media influence, especially communication effects on political judgment, public opinion, lifestyle politics, and civic participation. He has authored over 60 articles and chapters and is currently working on three book manuscripts extending these inquiries. This research has been supported by Carnegie, CIRCLE, CPB, Ford, PBS, Pew, Rockefeller Bros., and Russell Sage. For details, see the Research and CV sections