In 2014, Chalkbeat developed and started using a WordPress plugin for tracking impact. We called it MORI — Measures of Our Reporting’s Influence. As we wrote then, MORI grew out of one of our key beliefs: Journalists can make a difference, but the ability to measure the difference we make can multiply our impact over time. If we can document how, why, when, and where we made a difference, we are more likely to repeat our success.
The quantitative data we track in MORI lets us see the big picture of how our work affects the world, beyond raw readership analytics; the qualitative narrative we record helps us tell the story. Our editorial teams can put important impacts in the hands of our fundraising team and others to turn around and share with the broader education community.
In recent months, Chalkbeat’s reporting on a questionable new graduation exam in New York pushed the state to review the test; in Tennessee, we drove a school district to be more transparent about school closure plans; and in Colorado, our updated database of immunization rates in local schools was republished across the state by five news organizations.
All of these impacts were tracked in MORI, and quickly made the transition from entries in a database to slides for presentations to our board and funders. These impacts have also helped inform our own teams in other locations about what’s working across the network, and the quantitative data on the different types of impact we’ve recorded will make an appearance in our end-of-year fundraising campaign.
The MORI Platform
MORI was conceived as a single killer app, a plugin with its own impact tracking and reporting system, but also with deep ties to Google Analytics, as well as its own built-in taxonomies for detailed story types and impact types.
As we used MORI over the next two years to track the impact of individual stories and themes, we realized that it would be more technically sustainable as a suite of tools, rather than a single plugin, at the center of a set of best practices for running an impact-driven newsroom.
Today we’re excited to announce the open source release of the first product in the MORI Platform: The MORI Impact Tracker, a WordPress plugin you can download, install, and start using right now.
We hope this release continues the public conversation around how news organizations can track and report impact, and look forward to working with developers from other organizations as we continue to develop the MORI Platform. The community of practice around impact tracking is already vibrant; we hope this release helps it grow and share knowledge.