Empowering Media That Matters

The Center for
Media & Social Impact

The Center for Media & Social Impact is an innovation lab and research center that studies, designs and showcases media for social impact.

More about CMSI

HRFS 2014 has begun! See the year's top docs and meet the filmmakers.

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

Missed this year's Media That Matters? Check out the videos here!

A 10 year legacy of the Media That Matters Conference in one publication.


Three case studies of social issue docs demonstrate how outreach campaigns can enable publics to form around social and political issues.

Media That Matters

Public TV Docs Feature More Diverse Creators and Characters than Cable

Independent LensMore cable series than ever before feature social-issue documentaries, but public TV still stands out for diversity in both creators and characters, according to Center research that will be announced at the International Documentary Association’s 2014 Getting Real Documentary Film Conference.


Good News: Growing Acceptance of Fair Use in Documentary

At the 2014 Getting Real Documentary Film Conference, hosted by the International Documentary Association, the Center is releasing new research on the embrace of fair use in the field.

Based on a survey of 489 documentary filmmakers by Patricia Aufderheide and Aram Sinnreich, the survey finds that a great majority of documentary filmmakers understand fair use, find it valuable in their work, and have had no trouble with acceptance by broadcasters, lawyers or insurers.


Making Dangerous Docs: What We Know So Far

Zoom audio recorderThe Center for Media & Social Impact has begun a research project funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation on the problems filmmakers face when they tackle deep-pocketed, powerful subjects – whether governmental or corporate, national or international. We are interviewing filmmakers, lawyers, insurers, broadcasters, and investigative journalists to find out how filmmakers can protect themselves when making these "dangerous docs."


Rebecca MacKinnon to Speak at American University

Consent of the NetworkedOn Monday, October 6, author and activist Rebecca MacKinnon is coming to American University to lead a conversation on Internet governance, privacy, free speech, and journalism in the digital age. 

MacKinnon is the director of the Ranking Digital Rights project at the New America Foundation. After establishing her journalism career at CNN, she co-founded the citizen media network Global Voices with Ethan Zuckerman in 2005. More recently, she released her book "Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle For Internet Freedom."