Sunday, November 9, 2008

Monitoring and Evaluating Impact of Using the Media

Though it has been proven time and time again that the media influences society daily, it is not sufficient just to rely on this knowledge. We know our message will be heard and seen but whether it has an impact is what is important. In order to find out if our campaign has been effective it must be thoroughly monitored and evaluated.

To truly know what kind of effect our campaign has had it is imperative that baseline data is collected before the campaign is launched. The data could be collected by a survey and/or questionnaires with very basic questions about attitudes towards transgendered people. Baseline data lets researchers know a groups’ opinion before the project and then is used for comparison when the project is finished. When the media campaign has completed its run, post completion research would be conducted, using the same indicators as the baseline to note any changes or variations. Using these methods in conjunction with each other can give us a good indication as to what type of shift has been made in the public’s attitudes. The only really disadvantage of this type of research is that without the ability to use a focus group, it is hard to know whether change is attributed to the campaign or other factors.

That being said, it is important to not only evaluate the campaign in the beginning and the end but also to be monitoring its impact throughout its full run. In our case this would be best achieved by using outcome evaluation methods, mainly random survey throughout the campaign to judge attitudes towards transgendered people. It would also be beneficial to hold focus groups and community meetings to get feedback on the media campaign, both its success and failures.

Because the whole point of the campaign is to promote trans-positive attitudes it would be important to get feedback from the transgendered community to make sure they are feeling properly represented. This data could be collected qualitatively during and after the campaign. It would also be useful to collect some quantitative data in terms of hate crimes towards transgendered individuals before and after the campaign. These numbers could be collected from correctional facilities and local police forces.

After the success of the campaign has been evaluated, it would be important to decide if another large scale mass-media campaign would be needed or whether it should be followed up by a smaller scale campaign. The transgender population has been unfairly stigmatized in Canada for far too long and unfortunately one media campaign, not matter how effective, will not entirely change people’s attitudes, but it is a good first step. A step, we hope, will lead to a future where transgendered people can live their lives without fear and be seen for who they really are away from prejudice and labels in a trans-positive society. Here’s to hoping!

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