• News

    National Domestic Workers Alliance
    Spotlighting Domestic Workers We partnered with the National Domestic Workers Alliance in this recent study analyzing the history of domestic worker representation across scripted film and TV from 1910 to 2020. Through two phases of research, a frequency analysis and a content analysis of 100 domestic worker characters, the findings explore how often… More
    Blue Sky Scriptwriting Contest Hollywood, Health & Society launches its first Blue Sky Scriptwriting Contest now accepting entries for TV stories that take place in a future in which we would actually aspire to live and thrive. Instead of the standard dystopian landscape, think environmental sustainability, a fair and equitable society, and a world… More
    Climate Change Playbook In a soon-to-be-released study, we analyzed scripts from 37,453 TV episodes and films that aired in the US media market between 2016 and 2020 to see how often climate change content appeared. , finding only 2.8% mentioned any of 36 climate-related keywords. Our study partner Good Energy has released a… More
    ‘The Social Dilemma’ moves viewers Using a unique methodology called propensity score matching (PSM), our Media Impact Project researchers surveyed nearly 4,000 people in a study of the 2020 Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma. They found that viewers of the film were more knowledgeable about persuasive design techniques employed by social media companies, had greater… More
    ‘Flip the Script’ on Plastic Pollution Media researcher Dana Weinstein joins actors Yareli Arizmendi, Kyra Sedgewick and Fran Drescher to discuss our latest collaboration with the Plastic Pollution Coalition at a webinar on Wednesday, January 19 at 2PM (PT). Our Media Impact Project research team examined 32 popular television shows from the 2019-2020 season in the… More
  • Noted

    On July 27, 2022, writer/producer Norman Lear celebrated his 100th birthday! As tribute, his friends and fans at the Norman Lear Center have recorded this special birthday message.

    Happy Birthday, Norman! 🎂🥳❤️

    January 6 Hearing

    As television, it was gripping. As theatre, it was absorbing. As art form, it was innovative. As politics, it was searing. “It’s got the makings of a riveting forensic procedural,” says Lear Center Director Marty Kaplan of the recent January 6 hearing in the Globe and Mail

    The U.S. lags behind other democracies: Only 68.8% of eligible voters participated in the record-turnout election of 2020. In 100% Democracy: The Case for Universal Voting, co-authors E.J. Dionne and Miles Rapoport argue that if Americans are required to pay taxes and serve on juries, why not ask—or require—everyone to vote? Watch this important discussion, moderated by USC professor Roberto Suro.

    Lear Center Director Marty Kaplan was quoted in Deadline Hollywood on Florida’s new “Don’t Say Gay” law: “There is no evidence that I know of that right wing backlash results in corporate bottom lines being hit. Boycotts are more powerful as public relations tools than they are at economic sanctions. I don’t think there is any risk at all in following Disney’s lead.”

    Media Impact Project Research Director Erica Rosenthal shared our ongoing research activities in climate and sustainability at the annual USC Earth Week Celebration, hosted by USC President Carol Folt and featuring a diverse group of sustainability champions from across the university.

    “We are so used to things being scripted, and we’re kind of hip and savvy about these things, except we’re not,” says Lear Center Director Marty Kaplan on the 2022 Oscars ceremony. “This one pierced the veil. It was like a rent in the fabric of reality.”

  • Blog

    The Rise of Sopranos Criminology The past several years have witnessed a renewed interest in The Sopranos, the HBO series that inaugurated the era of prestige television. In September 2021, a New York Times headline announced that “Every Young Person” was watching the series. Although the show concluded in 2008, Warner Media reported that viewership… More
    Senator, Paris Hilton use reporter’s work to change troubled-teen industry I’d been researching the role of impact producers in journalism (we need more of these, by the way) and documentary films when I came across new legislation in Utah to regulate its troubled-teen industry. The story behind the law involves a journalist, two lawmakers in two states, a celebrity influencer,… More
    Narratives as a tool: shifting mindsets at scale This piece has been cross-posted from the Behavior Insights Group’s webpage. To read the original post, please visit their website.   In 2015, the USA Network show Royal Pains featured a brief storyline about a transitioning transgender teen and the challenges she faced. The episode aired during a period of… More
    What can fashion teach the news industry? Remember my TED.com talk, Lessons from Fashion’s Free Culture? Well, a Fellow at Harvard’s Nieman Center, Tomer Ovadia, interviewed me recently about what lessons the news industry might learn from the fashion industry. We discussed the many surprising parallels between the two and where the future might lead. Listen to… More
    Why Charitable Giving and Philanthropy Matter Today Charitable giving and philanthropy are as important today as ever. In the midst of the pandemic and national reckoning with racial injustice, Americans from all backgrounds are giving in different and important ways. Understanding these trends, how they are shifting and how media can and does influence the discourse is… More
    Why Designing for Impact Can Lead to New Jobs in Journalism & New Ways of Working Journalists are good with messes. Problems make for interesting stories with lots of layers, complicated characters and usually thick narrative drama. Designing for impact, however, sometimes means sweeping the mess aside and clearing a path to action. We talk about information needs; this need is for information that helps me… More