• News

    Immigrant Stories Matter In our third study with Define American, we analyzed 167 characters across 169 episodes of 79 scripted series that aired between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2022. We also conducted an audience survey to examine the impact of four TV series on attitudes toward immigrants and immigration. Immigrant representation… More
    Climate Change in Entertainment In an analysis of more than 37,000 scripts from TV and films, only 2.8% mentioned anything about climate change. An accompanying survey of 2,000 Americans found that few can identify a fictional TV or film addressing the climate crisis. But those who are most alarmed about climate change tend to… More
    FBI: Gun Safety on TV
    Gun Safety on TV This study, conducted with Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, examines how gun safety and gun violence prevention are  depicted in popular TV and provides recommendations for how the television industry can improve portrayals. We analyzed 250 episodes of scripted TV dramas and found limited depictions or discussions of gun… More
    This is Us
    This is Us Alzheimer’s Storyline Writers at NBC’s This is Us leaned on the expertise of Hollywood, Health & Society when crafting the storyline of Rebecca’s mental decline due to Alzheimer’s disease. And in a recent study out of University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health, researchers found that the story both resonated with viewers… More
    2022 Sentinel Awards This year’s Sentinel Awards honor 12 shows whose outstanding storytelling tackled powerful and timely topics, including Emmy nominees and winners Dopesick, Abbott Elementary and Hacks, as well as A Million Little Things, Never Have I Ever and Reservation Dogs, the breakout coming–of–age series about four indigenous teen–age friends living in… More
  • Noted

    How do we study media to better understand its impact on society? Managing Director Johanna Blakley provided this overview of our Media Impact Project and the research team’s recent efforts studying narratives in TV, film and journalism at this year’s Media Impact Funders forum. Check out the video here!

    “For us, it begins and ends with stories. Stories get our attention…The Lear Center is about understanding the impact of stories and then affecting what those stories are,” says Director Marty Kaplan. This illuminating video talks about the critical efforts of our Hollywood, Health & Society program.

    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.”

  • 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