Articles by

Anusha Alikhan

  • Article

    Published by

    Photo credit: Anusha Alikhan. How can governments partner with entrepreneurs to strengthen the startup ecosystem and promote innovation? A panel at SXSW took on this question Sunday, discussing how to build bridges between entrepreneurs and policymakers. Greg Ferenstein of Tech Crunch moderated the panel, which included Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Brandon Pollak, director of global affairs for 1776, a Washington D.C.-based business incubator. The conversation highlighted the need for entrepreneurs to become more involved in politics to shape issues that directly affect them, such as business regulation, tax policy, marketplace fairness, immigration and opening up government data. Issa pointed out that in many cases entrepreneurs do not leverage lobbying campaigns to curb regulations that stifle business growth. “The industry has to turn the heat up,” he said. He cited the example of the proposed anti-piracy bills, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), which were dropped by legislators after protests from citizens and tech companies that the bills would limit freedom of expression; Issa strongly opposed the legislation.
  • Article

    Published by

    Photo credit: Michael D. Bolden There is still hope for an Internet that preserves free expression and lets innovation thrive. That was the big takeaway from Saturday’s SXSW session “Remember When the Internet Was Free?” Michael Maness, Knight Foundation vice president of journalism and media innovation, moderated the panel, which included Sue Gardner, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation; Paul Steiger, founding editor-in-chief of ProPublica and a Knight Foundation trustee; and Tim Wu, a writer and professor at Columbia Law School, who popularized the concept of “net neutrality.” The panelists discussed the vision of the Internet in its early days describing an open, accessible forum for shared ideas, learning and information. Gardner, in particular, provided a nostalgic account of the emerging Internet, free from government incursion, censorship and discrimination by Internet service providers.  “It would be free; it would be cheap; it would be easy; it would importantly, I think, be always on,” she said. “We figured it would be full of interesting useful sites, importantly many of them made by amateurs or individual subject matter experts competing on a level playing field.”  
  • Article

    Published by

    Above: Eric Newton. Photo credit: Anusha Alikhan. A workshop during the 2013 Online News Association annual conference in Atlanta brought together about 70 educators to design an ideal j-school program for the digital age. Knight Senior Adviser Eric Newton and Texas State University Associate Professor Cindy Royal led the “Hack the Curriculum” panel. Newton introduced the session by asking participants to imagine that they are not teachers but consultants tasked with designing a fantasy curriculum. “The point is to gain insights from each other about what you’re doing now and what you can do differently going forward,” he said. Seven breakout groups brainstormed around specific themes—from integrating programming and data into classwork to mobile media and entrepreneurial journalism. Themes were pulled from Newton’s just-launched digital book, “Searchlights and Sunglasses, Field Notes From the Digital Age of Journalism,” which calls for a revolution in journalism education.
  • Article

    Published by

    In April, the University of Southern California’s Norman Lear Center announced the launch of a groundbreaking project to discover better ways to understand how media influences people. Supported by $3.35 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Knight Foundation, the Media Impact Project welcomed its first director this week. As the lead, Todd Cunningham will introduce a new perspective to the project—melding his 15-year market research career at Viacom, the private media conglomerate, with an academic team of analytics experts and data specialists, as well as leading social change makers. According to Cunningham, the diverse group does have one thing in common: They all believe that investing in media measurement has the power to be “transformative.” Under Cunningham’s direction, the Media Impact Project will shift into high gear, with “the potential to revolutionize the field” and help social change organizations measure their impact. We talked with Cunningham about the Media Impact Project and what he expects to bring to the mix. You worked at Viacom for many years focusing on ways to quantify audience engagement. What did you learn about engagement that you can put to work on behalf of the Media Impact Project? Gaining a complete understanding of the emotional and behavioral connections that audiences form with video and other content is hard to do. But three lessons do come to mind that can be put to work immediately when measuring engagement: Engagement is actually the first point of participation; it’s not the end game. An essential part of measuring media impact, based on my experience, is discovering what sparks degrees of engagement; of course, when we chart related behavioral changes over time, this becomes even more valuable.  MIP checklist:  on it! Not all content is socially equal. I see assumptions being made all the time that all content is shareable. Guess what, it’s not.  Finding out what is and isn’t socially compelling and why is in short supply - qualitative research is a critical to measuring engagement that is many overlook Share the work, share the work, share the work:  The more people in your organization who understand how engagement gets measured, the better.  Moving the measurement industry toward a greater sense of openness regarding approach and insights is a key goal of the Media Impact Project.