At Mountainfilm, we look for films that have impact and now, there is a new study by the Center for Social Media about just that. This is a five year evaluation, funded in part by the Ford Foundation, of the best ways to make sure social issues documentaries reach and impact an audience.
"People come in as participants in a media project and leave recognizing themselves as members of a public—a group of people commonly affected by an issue. They have found each other and exchanged information on an issue in which they all see themselves as having a stake. In some cases, they take action based on this transformative act of communication.
This is the core function of public media 2.0 for a very simple reason: Publics are the element that keeps democracies democratic."