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Sumner Mahaffey

Harmony’s latest projects and success stories

As this summer kicks into gear, we’d like to share some of the exciting projects we’ve worked on recently — and some of our team’s own media interests, too.

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First Things First

  • Due to popular demand, we’ll be hosting an Audiences 101 Webinar on 7/20 @ 12pm ET. We’ll cover the fundamentals of the values-based audience architecture we’ve developed as part of the Narrative Observatory. Our Advisory Board will be in attendance, as well as some surprise “special guests” from past Harmony projects. RSVP here!
  • We’re hiring! Our Engineering Team is in search of a Software Engineer — Data, a position that will help build a data ingestion, processing, and analysis platform for media research. We offer a fully remote workplace, a generous benefits package, meeting-free Flex Fridays, WFH stipends, 401(K) with 100% match, unlimited PTO (with enforced minimums), and in-person retreats. Learn more here, and please reach out with any questions or referrals.

Updates from the Lab

  • Over the last few years, we have all seen how the values we hold and the stories we consume inform different understandings of “health.” Since late 2021, we’ve worked with The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in support of their narrative efforts toward achieving health equity in the U.S. Our initial research findings are already helping surface testable story opportunities for creators. Read about the project here.
  • Why was the Harmony team playing Fallout and watching Rick & Morty this year? In partnership with The Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), we analyzed what media people in the U.S. are consuming about nuclear weapons — which meant a lot of video games and cartoons — to find how and where to stage interventions that lead people toward a hopeful, nuclear weapons-free future. Find out here.
  • In a post-January 6th America, we’ve heard a growing interest from our community in understanding how people in the U.S. understand the democratic process. In response, we’re exploring a research project to provide recurring insights about the state of democracy in U.S. media, and what opportunities exist to stage narrative interventions. See our early “sample” findings here.
  • Coming soon is more new work covering issues like guns, civic information, reparations and anti-racism, Asian-American identity, and more. Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Medium for the latest.

What We're Into

  • It was promising to see that several of the most powerful showrunners in Hollywood have recently signed a pledge to incorporate gun safety best practices into their shows and scrutinize the use of firearms in storytelling.
  • More on the media and gun violence: a new piece in The Atlantic spoke to what is known as “headline stress disorder” that can drive people to believe change is impossible — in other words, a place where narrative intervention is necessary.
  • Though Harmony has never gone TikTok viral (yet), the data visualization nerds among us loved this video from Vox and The Pudding about TikTok virality: what it is, how it happens, and what happens after.
  • Relevant to our recent democracy research, we found useful Thomas Edsell’s op-ed in The New York Times about media polarization. A fascinating observation of the double-edged sword that is the internet, Edsell recognizes that while social media gives a voice to the oft-voiceless electorate, it frequently becomes a place of polarizing, partisan hostility.
  • Longtime fans of the Slow Burn podcast from Slate, Season 7 is all about Roe v Wade and the lesser-known stories that helped activists build a powerful landscape to fight for the legalization of abortion in the early 1970s. (We also did work around abortion disinformation with NARAL back in 2021.)

We are looking for new, innovative partners to join the Narrative Observatory. Have an interesting project related to audience, narrative, or story? Looking to supercharge your storytelling efforts for culture change? Let’s talk.

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