Meaningful Media Now


Meaningful Media Now: September

As an organization interested in media impact, our “water cooler” chatter around the office often includes TV series and movies that moved us, music we’re addicted to, and media trends that affect us. Read on to see the meaningful media and cultural phenomenons HI staff has been talking about in September:

  1. Featuring: The Blackfish Effect
  2. Speechless
  3. Hell or High Water
  4. Green Day: Revolution Radio 

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Social Issue Networks and Film Festivals: Media Makers Analysis


In our final installment in this series on film festivals and social networks, we’ll look at what insights a media maker can learn from our analysis in order to further optimize their festival application strategy as they answer the big question:

What festivals could introduce my film to topic-relevant social issue influencers?

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Social Issue Networks and Film Festivals: Festival Analysis

Figure 1: Top 15 film festivals by number of social issue influencers in each of the 16 social issue networks. The blue color indicates a top-tier festival (as identified by POV), and green reflects a non-top-tier festival. X-axis normalized across all issues.

This is the third of four posts mapping online social networks; today we’ll be focusing on film festival organizations and their reach within these networks. (If you’re just joining us, you can read more about the series here and here.)  Specifically, we’ll be addressing the following questions, as posed by a hypothetical festival organizer:

Which festivals reach social issue influencers? Where does my film festival rank among film festivals’ social issue engagement as a whole? What social issue network(s) have I attracted attention from in the past and which should I target in the future?

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Social Issue Networks and Film Festivals: Issue Advocates

Figure 4: Breakdown of four Human Rights network sub-groups by the film festival accounts with the four highest network followers.

We’ll begin our multi-part analysis of social networks from the perspective of an issue advocate asking the following questions:

Who is talking about my issue online? Do these individuals cluster around specific topics? How do the various issue networks compare in size and structure? Which, if any, are connected to (or likely to be influenced by) film festivals?

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Social Issue Networks and Film Festivals: Our Method


There are many reasons to participate in a film festival. For documentary filmmakers in search of an audience, festivals provide access to communities of interest and practice, and hold promise for distribution deals and broader public exposure. From the largest and best-known—think Sundance, Tribeca, and South by Southwest—to smaller, themed events like the Green Film Fest, there are many festivals to choose from; by some counts, this number is well in the thousands. Criteria such as reputation and popularity steer filmmakers and attendees toward the most prominent among them. But no two audiences are alike; the extent to which a film may or may not resonate with its viewers is, for many hopefuls, a great unknown.

It’s certainly not an easy nut to crack. Luckily, emerging methods from computational social science can help us begin to distinguish among festival audiences—and provide concrete information to help guide participants to those events most appropriate for their particular project.

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Identifying Media Consumption Communities in New York City

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There are three main unifying factors that turn a group of people into a community: communities of practice, such as religious groups; communities of interest, such as sports fans; and communities of place, such as neighborhoods. One important aspect of media effects research is understanding media’s influence on community building. The rise of social and instant media has led to an increase in scholarship around the growth and reach of online communities of practice and interest. But there has been little analysis on identifying potential geographic media consumption communities. Are there communities within urban areas that prefer to consume news through certain media platforms? And if they exist, can we identify them?

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