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NewsCloud 2008 Grant Final Report

NewsCloud 2008 Grant Final Report

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Published by: reifman on Jul 03, 2010
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07/15/2010

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John S. and James L. Knight FoundationFinal Report
Organization name:
Tides Center 
 Report due: November 30, 2009 Grant #:
2008-0142
 Grant amount: $
249,529
(over two years) Grant date: October 27, 2008Project description:
To create and launch two social media applications on Facebook to teststrategies that leverage social media environments to engage youth in news and information.
 Please report your project outcomes clearly, briefly and honestly. Include setbacks as well assuccesses. Knowing
why
something didn’t work can be as helpful as knowing why somethingworked.In describing your relationship with Knight Foundation, please be candid and provide constructivecriticism whenever appropriate. Honest feedback can help both of us improve our organizations.
To get started, please read the following anticipated outcomes paragraphs carefully. Theanticipated outcomes sum up what we were expecting from this grant.
Anticipated Outcomes:
The two Facebook publications will create communities of interest thatengage young adults with news and information. The project will track the evolution of thosecommunities to assess the impact of content types, outreach efforts, and marketing strategies inorder to inform news organization about their relative impact and effectiveness.
 
 Requested Information:
1.
Please list each project activity and tell us, if and when you achieved it?Note:
The project began for our team December 1, 2008. We received our first funding via TidesCenter on December 10, 2008.
Activity 1
: During a six-month period, Newscloud will launch two different social media publications on Facebook, each with a distinct strategic approach to promoting
participation
,
community
and
awareness
with young people using social networks over a six-month period
Achieved
launch within four months (December 2009 – March 2009)
o
 
The first publication will be a Climate Change site, which uses a “street team”incentive system to promote and encourage participation in the community.Members will receive points when they post stories, rate materials and participatein discussions. They can accumulate points over time and redeem them for small prizes.
 Launched in February 2009.
 
o
 
The second will use demographic and geographic targeting for a publicationtailored for college students in the Minnesota region.
 Launched in March 2009.
 
Activity 2:
Study the results and impact of each particular strategy and publication.
Achieved
research goals and produced three research reports on each social media publication(i.e., one interim progress update, an executive summary and full report). These can be viewed atour Research page http://newscloud.com/research
Activity 3
: Publish qualitative and quantitative research from the study with the goal of documenting strategies that work best to engage youth in new media in social networkingenvironments.
Achieved
publication and dissemination goals during the grant period (December 2008- November 2009); research reports were published within self-publishing avenues; we publishedabout the project in Harvard’s Nieman report, and in conference presentations and papers (
 seelist in section 14 below
).Peer-reviewed journal publication is a slower process. Typically, manuscripts take 2-4 months to prepare for submission and 8-12 months for actual journal publication. Therefore, we mightexpect to see published manuscripts from this project in fall 2010 at the earliest.
Activity 4:
If successful, a secondary phase of study will examine two to three additional publications.
Not Achieved:
The Knight Foundation chose not to fund additional publications and research duringH2 of the grant period. However, Mr. Reifman worked privately with a University of Washington
 
Communications school class to teach in the classroom and help them launch their own publication(based on the software funded by the grant), In:Site, on Arts & Culture topics. A University of Washington graduate student published a synopsis of this project available herehttp://blog.newscloud.com/2009/10/university-of-washington-analysis-of-newsclouds-facebook-application-insite-and-related-curriculum-.html
2.
Were there any major changes in the project activities and timetable? What caused them?Technology Activities and Timetable
There were no significant changes to the technology activities and timetable.
Research Activities and Timetable
We adhered fairly closely to our original timetable for research activities (within 2-3 months of theoriginal plan). The following factors caused our adjustments to the timetable:(1)
 
Hiring for the research team took much longer than expected. Although the first graduateassistant was hired within two weeks of the project’s start date (hired 12/15 with project startdate of 12/1/09), the second graduate assistant was not hired until 2.5 months into the project because of the unique skill set we required (and had great difficulty finding) and because wehad to re-open the search when a chosen candidate did not accept the offer.(2)
 
We were challenged in our ability to contribute to both design and research effortssimultaneously. That is, we needed to contribute to the development of the social media publication’s research interface (i.e., thinking up front about all the data we wanted versusneeded and in what format) while also having to think through and design the theoreticalframework, methods, instruments, and communication forms and all other aspects typicallyrequired of a non-development-oriented research project.(3)
 
Soliciting advice and approval from others took longer than expected. As with all goodresearch, we followed human subjects procedures and sought advice from our advisors at keysteps in the research process, but this also slowed our progress when feedback took longer than expected.(4)
 
Working within the academic calendar meant delays in the implementation of some of our data collection instruments. Although we had initially planned to gather all data from bothsocial media publications in March and April, we hadn’t appropriately budgeted for thelifecycle of the academic year, adjusting for times when students are especially hard to reach(e.g., spring break in March; end of April through May). We were able to collect some of our online data in March, April and May but data collection endured through the summer monthswith focus groups and interviews ending by late July.(5)
 
Correspondingly, an extended period of data collection meant that data analysis and reportwrite-up needed to extend beyond the July deadline (month 8 of the project) which we hadoriginally targeted. Our research reports were issued on 9/3/09 for the Hot Dish publicationand on 10/5/09 for The Daily publication, only 2 months beyond what we originally outlined.

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