Voqal has long funded media content and distribution, spending millions of dollars annually. It seemed prudent for us also to support ways to measure the effects of that funding. Though we believed that our grants were having a significant impact, it’s a big step forward for us and for our grantees to be able to measure results.

Using a sophisticated analysis that took into account the volume and complexity of the data set—all Tweets sent during weeks of coordinated media coverage vs. those in “control” weeks—Harvard Professor Gary King was able to measure specific instances of journalism not only increasing discussion of related topics, but also changing the way the public discussed those issues on Twitter.

The study demonstrates that even small news organizations can have a significant impact on how Americans discuss issues online. Philanthropic organizations working to expand democracy and influence the national conversation on key issues should take note: Independent news sources with a median outlet size of 50,000 subscribers have a proven impact on the national conversation.

Read the full article on measuring media's impact by John Schwartz at Media Impact Funders.