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April 29, 2014, 10:50 a.m.
LINK: towcenter.org  ➚   |   Posted by: Caroline O'Donovan   |   April 29, 2014

A new research project over at Columbia’s Tow Center wants to do a better job of determining the real impact news has on the world around us.

Former Knight-Mozilla OpenNews fellows and current Tow fellows Brian Abelson, Michael Keller, and Stijn Debrouwere hope to find new ways to both quantitatively and qualitatively measure the impact of journalism with NewsLynx.

To that effect, they’ll be working with the over 100 members of the Investigative News Network, trying to figure out how impact is measured and what the goals are in those newsrooms. Their first step will be to build a standardized taxonomy for talking about impact across organizations. This list gives a sense of what next steps will be:

— Tracking of social media “mentions” and “likes” over time on Twitter and Facebook.

— Tracking of mentions by lists of people, e.g. local and national representatives, other journalists, or institutional representatives.

— Integration with Google Analytics and other metric providers.

— A Google Alert-like river of mentions that can be approved and associated with a given article.

— A Customizable qualitative taxonomy and tagging system.

— An interface for recording ”impact” events not tied to automatic processes.

— “If-This-Then-Impact” recipes for custom combinations of events that should trigger an event to be recorded.

— A report generator for distributing impact assessments to staff, board members, and financial backers.

NewsLynx is also likely to be the first news research project to launch with a reference to the Borgesian Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge.

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