URL Media’s impact framework is based on five areas of impact, which captures both URL organizational impact and URL network member impact that it hopes to track: 

  1. Audience/individual: Readers, especially URL network member audiences, are engaging with and utilizing members’ work, contributing to increased engagement in their community and understanding of issues that impact their lives. Specific outcomes include:
    1. Audience trust and relationships: URL partner organizations build trust-based relationships with audience/community members.
    2. Knowledge: Audience members have increased knowledge about issues reported, including root causes and potential solutions.
    3. Self-efficacy: URL partner organization audience members feel like they know how to contribute to solutions, and believe that what they do will ameliorate the problem.
    4. Action: URL member organization audience members take action to address problem(s) and/or solutions identified in reporting.
  2. Community/Network: New networks form and existing communities and networks are strengthened as a result of URL network member work, thereby increasing their cohesion and power. Specific outcomes include:
    1. Strengthened community networks: Networks — formal or informal — among URL member audiences use content to further their own work and build power.
    2. New community networks: Individuals come together around content and form a new network to engage in shared work.
  3. Institutional: Community, religious, corporate, and government institutions act on and reference URL network members’ reporting. A specific outcome includes:
    1. Institutional change: Content contributes to community-led institutions taking action and increasing their power, or content results in corporate, government and/or political institutions changing their positions, policies, and/or actions.
  4. Media Amplification: URL and URL network members engage as an expert and thought leader in its news ecosystem, locally, statewide, and nationally. Specific outcomes include:
    1. Brand awareness: URL member organizations engage in new partnerships for content or existing partnerships are strengthened Content is republished and/or cited by other media, with direct reference to the originating publication/organization.
    2. Agenda setting: URL member organization content is republished and/or cited by other media, with or without direct reference to the originating publication/organization.
  5. URL Organizational: Impact is seen as an integral part of URL and URL network members, and contributes to its overall sustainability. Specific outcomes include:
    1. Thought leadership: URL engages as a thought leader 
    2. Revenue: URL members and URL increase revenue
    3. Audience: Aggregate of URL network member increases in core audience size as a result of content and/or engagement

For each type of impact, there are defined outcomes and suggested indicators. Different indicators rely on different methods for measurement, including qualitative impact tracking, digital analytics, source audits, surveys, focus groups, media monitoring, and narrative content analysis. 

The complete URL impact framework can be found here.

This work was done in partnership with Impact Architects. For more information, visit their page here.

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