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Radio and Audio Grantmaking: Reaching New Audiences Through Old Platforms

May 17, 2019

Both radio and audio are being used in exciting ways to reach new audiences, spark civic engagement and dialogue across diverse communities, examine science and advance disability education, and much more. Radio, in particular, is garnering significant support from philanthropy across a range of programming themes. While perhaps considered a less dynamic media format in recent years, compared to extraordinary growth in web- and mobile-based media grantmaking, funding data tell a different story. Radio receives a significant share of philanthropic funding, particularly when compared to television and film and video.

Measuring Impact: The Art, Science and Mystery of Nonprofit News

July 23, 2013

This report seeks to answer the two-pronged question, "What is 'impact,' and how can it be measured consistently across nonprofit newsrooms?" A review of recent, relevant literature and our informal conversations with experts in the field reveal growing ambitions toward the goal of developing a common framework for assessing journalism's impact, yet few definitive conclusions about how exactly to reach that framework. This is especially the case when journalism's "impact" is defined by its ultimate social outcomes -- not merely the familiar metrics of audience reach and website traffic. As with all journalism, the frame defines the story, and audience is all-important. Defining "impact" as a social outcome proves a complicated proposition that generally evolves according to the constituency attempting to define it. Because various stakeholders have their own reasons for wanting to measure the impact of news, understanding those interests is an essential step in crafting measurement tools and interpreting the metrics they produce. Limitations of impact assessment arise from several sources: the assumptions invariably made about the product and its outcome; the divergent and overlapping categories into which nonprofit journalism falls in the digital age; and the intractable problem of attempting to quantify "quality." These formidable challenges, though, don't seem to deter people from posing and attempting to find answers to the impact question. Various models for assessing impact are continually being tinkered with, and lessons from similar efforts in other fields offer useful insight for this journalistic endeavor. And past research has pointed to specific needs and suggestions for ways to advance the effort. From all of this collective wisdom, several principles emerge as the cornerstones upon which to build a common framework for impact assessment.

Journalism, News, and Information; Media Access and Policy

Interpreting Science for a General Public: the Rockefeller Foundation and the Politics of Science Popularization in the 1930s

January 1, 2013

In 1938 and 1939, the Rockefeller Foundation organized two confidential conferences "On the Interpretation of the Natural Sciences for a General Public", commissioned an exhaustive survey of contemporary science popularization in the United States and actively participated in international efforts in this direction under the auspices of the Paris-based International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation of the League of Nations. The two confidential conferences gathered a significant part of the scientific, social scientific and mass media elites of the United States, and were conceived as an informal think tank in which the participants were asked to privately and frankly discuss over the political goals, strategies and techniques of science popularization.

Youth and Digital Media: From Credibility to Information Quality

February 16, 2012

Building upon a process-and context-oriented information quality framework, this paper seeks to map and explore what we know about the ways in which young users of age 18 and under search for information online, how they evaluate information, and how their related practices of content creation, levels of new literacies, general digital media usage, and social patterns affect these activities. A review of selected literature at the intersection of digital media, youth, and information quality -- primarily works from library and information science, sociology, education, and selected ethnographic studies -- reveals patterns in youth's information-seeking behavior, but also highlights the importance of contextual and demographic factors both for search and evaluation. Looking at the phenomenon from an information-learning and educational perspective, the literature shows that youth develop competencies for personal goals that sometimes do not transfer to school, and are sometimes not appropriate for school. Thus far, educational initiatives to educate youth about search, evaluation, or creation have depended greatly on the local circumstances for their success or failure.

Journalism, News, and Information; Media Applications and Tools; Media Platforms

Misinformation and Fact-checking: Research Findings from Social Science

February 1, 2012

Citizens and journalists are concerned about the prevalence of misinformation in contemporary politics, which may pollute democratic discourse and undermine citizens' ability to cast informed votes and participate meaningfully in public debate. Academic research in this area paints a pessimistic picture -- the most salient misperceptions are widely held, easily spread, and difficult to correct. Corrections can fail due to factors including motivated reasoning, limitations of memory and cognition, and identity factors such as race and ethnicity. Nonetheless, there is reason to be optimistic about the potential for effectively correcting misperceptions, particularly among people who are genuinely open to the facts. In this report, we offer a series of practical recommendations for journalists, civic educators, and others who hope to reduce misperceptions.

Journalism, News, and Information

WGBH Teachers' Domain Pathways Stage II Evaluation: Focus Group Report

February 25, 2009


Separating Race from Technology: Finding Tomorrow's IT Progress in the Past

January 1, 2008

Part of the Volume on Learning Race and Ethnicity: Youth and Digital Media Despite billions of dollars spent on school acquisition of digital technology infrastructure, students of color still do not utilize opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) in great numbers. Against the backdrop of the stagnating numbers of American students pursuing scientific and technical careers, the author raises pertinent questions: a) what intrinsic value has technology added to critical technology pedagogy for students of color; b) why are these students failing to grasp the relevancy of STEM opportunities; and c) why should we as a country care? Using narratives of black and brown technology innovators and professionals, the author illustrates his argument that to connect with students of color, we must look to past achievements of minority innovators obscured by history, and use modern-day technology leaders to help students of color shape their relationship to science and technology and move beyond the Digital Divide.

Learning and Games

January 1, 2008

Part of the Volume on the Ecology of Games: Connecting Youth, Games, and Learning In this chapter, I argue that good video games recruit good learning and that a game's design is inherently connected to designing good learning for players. I start with a perspective on learning now common in the Learning Sciences that argues that people primarily think and learn through experiences they have had, not through abstract calculations and generalizations. People store these experiences in memory -- and human long-term memory is now viewed as nearly limitless -- and use them to run simulations in their minds to prepare for problem solving in new situations. These simulations help them to form hypotheses about how to proceed in the new situation based on past experiences. The chapter also discusses the conditions experience must meet if it is to be optimal for learning and shows how good video games can deliver such optimal learning experiences. Some of the issues covered include: identity and learning; models and model-based thinking; the control of avatars and "empathy for a complex system"; distributed intelligence and cross-functional teams for learning; motivation, and ownership; emotion in learning; and situated meaning, that is, the ways in which games represent verbal meaning through images, actions, and dialogue, not just other words and definitions.

Mandatory Testing and News in the Schools: Implications for Civic Education

January 31, 2007

Presents findings from a survey of teachers on the importance of using the news in civic education; the impact of teaching to standardized tests in English, math, and science on classroom use of news; and lessons for administrators and policy makers.

WGBH's Teachers' Domain Rights Assessment

August 17, 2006

This rights assessment evaluates the feasibility of converting the contents of WGBH's free online educational resource collection Teachers' Domain ( to open content status. It employs a two-pronged approach -- (1) categorizing and determining licensing costs for the website's already-existing media assets, and (2) researching and identifying challenges and solutions to licensing issues.For this report, WGBH identified all of the media assets and elements (the pieces that comprise a given asset) within the Teachers' Domain science collections, researched the rights holders and licensing agreements associated with each one, and created a classification system to identify rights status. This made it possible to determine the action necessary to shift each asset toward open content status, and to estimate the associated costs (if any). This research also mapped the potential difficulties and the opportunities for progress in this area.

The Progress of Science and Useful Arts: Why Copyright Today Threatens Intellectual Freedom

August 11, 2003

Copyright -- our system for protecting and encouraging creativity -- has been described as "the engine of free expression." But copyright can also interfere with free speech -- with the public's right to share, enjoy, criticize, parody, and build on the works of others. Resolving these sometimes conflicting claims requires policymakers, in the words of the Supreme Court, to strike a "difficult balance" between rewarding creativity through the copyright system and "society's competing interest in the free flow of ideas, information, and commerce." Where should we draw the line between rewarding creativity through the copyright system and society's competing interest in the free flow of ideas? These questions have become the subject of heated debate in Congress, academia, and the arts and entertainment industries. "The Progress of Science and Useful Arts": Why Copyright Today Threatens Intellectual Freedom demystifies such complex laws as the 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act and Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and deconstructs the underlying conflicts over "fair use," parody, copying, and the public domain. The report concludes with eight recommendations for a better-balanced public policy on copyright and free expression.

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