Empowering Media That Matters

The Center for
Media & Social Impact

The Center for Media & Social Impact at American University is an innovation incubator and research center that creates, studies, and showcases media for social impact.

More about CMSI

The Center's latest report examines risks and resources for filmmakers challenging the status quo. 

Visual arts community launches Code of Best Practices in Fair Use!

Just Released! Public TV remains leading source of diverse programming.

“Stand Up Planet” Impact Evaluation Demonstrates Power of Comedy for Change

Our latest report takes an in-depth look at the range of media impact tools currently available.

Media That Matters

Wikipedia at 15: Room to Grow

Andrew LihAt Wikipedia’s annual conference, Andrew Lih’s keynote pointed to exciting new areas of growth, into multimedia (virtual reality!), enriched news, expanded partnerships, less sock puppetry, and a kinder, friendlier way to welcome newcomers.


What Documentary & Social Change Funders Want: Inside Scoop from the Investigative Film Festival

The importance of risk, storytelling and truth took center stage at the inaugural Investigative Film Festival: Double Exposure in Washington D.C. on October 1 and 2, 2015. In addition to screenings of acclaimed films, the festival featured a two-day symposium that convened filmmakers, journalists, funders, students and commissioning editors to exchange ideas, resources and best practices.

(From Left): Caty Borum Chattoo, John Cardellino, Lauren Pabst, Richard Logan

A particularly important issue for documentary filmmakers, investigative journalists and non-profit organizations alike is funding from the philanthropic community – major foundations, family foundations and other support organizations. CMSI Co-Director Caty Borum Chattoo led a conversation with panelists representing the Sundance Documentary Film Program, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Reva and David Logan Foundation as they discussed their funding strategies and insights for potential applicants.


Whistleblower Reunion: Edward Snowden Meets the COINTELPRO Burglars

At 100Reporters’ “Double Exposure” symposium in Washington, D.C., whistleblower Edward Snowden (via proxy servers), who released information on NSA spying, got to meet some of the team that broke into FBI headquarters in 1971 and released information on the infamous COINTELPRO operation. It was hard to tell who was more impressed with whom. 


Journalism Goes Video in Magazines, Newspapers and TV Series

What kinds of opportunities are opening up for filmmakers and journalists in short-form video on news sites? The field is expanding rapidly, though most folks are still in experimental mode. 

At a panel at 100Reporters’ “Double Exposure” symposium in Washington, D.C., digital video programmers from several news media outlets explained how they’re building knowledge, brand and capacity at the same time.