Empowering Media That Matters

Media Culture & Impact

Regardless of the genre or platform – from entertainment to comedy to networked social channels – contemporary media can have profound social impact, from influencing awareness and attitudes to shaping policy. Through studies, case studies and other projects, CMSI investigates and reports on the ways in which media storytelling sets the public agenda, impacts audiences and shapes the future around the pressing social issues of our time.

Yes, and Laughter Lab: Uplifting Diverse Comedy for Social Change

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Comedy for Racial Justice in The Climate Crisis

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The Laughter Effect

The Laughter Effect is a series of investigations that spotlights how and why comedy can play a role in social change. Reports and studies from this project offer strategic recommendations about leveraging comedy for social justice – for change-makers, professional storytellers, and researchers.

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Beyond the Hashtags: #Ferguson, #Blacklivesmatter, and the online struggle for offline justice

Beyond The Hashtags examines the #Blacklivesmatter movement’s uses of online media in 2014-2015.

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The Journey to the Academy Awards: An Investigation of Oscar-Shortlisted and Nominated Documentaries (2014-2016)

This study is a systematic examination of the last three years (2014 - 2016) of Academy Award-shortlisted, -nominated and -winning documentary films—a total of 45 films and 56 credited directors.

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Reducing Risk when Telling Truth to Power

Our latest report examines risks and resources for filmmakers challenging the status quo.


Social Justice Documentary: Designing for Impact

Jessica Clark and Barbara Abrash present six in-depth case studies of high-impact documentaries, offering a snapshot of evaluation efforts, analysis of strategic design concepts, and a framework for further research.

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Entertainment, Storytelling & Social Change in Global Poverty: An Impact Evaluation of "Stand-Up Planet"

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


Assessing the Social Impact of Issue-Focused Documentaries

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



Case Studies

Syllabi & Educator Resources

Center for Media & Social Impact
4400 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, DC 20016-8017