In this installment of the Dimensions of Impact series, we look at another report from the Center for Media and Social Impact: "Social Justice Documentary: Designing for Impact." Written in 2011 by Jessica Clark and Barbara Abrash, this report attempts to advance models for measuring the impact of documentary film by synthesizing previous efforts and developing a framework for evaluation in a complex networked media environment.
CMSI's 2009 study "Social Issue Documentary: The Evolution of Public Engagement" highlighted the expanding "circuits of circulation" through which a documentary and its messages could travel - including websites, social media channels and non-theatrical screenings. "Designing for Impact" reflects further on the rapid shifts in media during the past decade, including the multiplying number of screens (theaters, televisions, computers, mobile phones etc), platforms for distribution, and "potential publics" that can form around a film. "Documentaries travel differently in this new media ecosystem," the report argues. "And they can also play a role in shaping its development."