COMMUNITY EMERGING LEADERS CARRIE SHEFFIELD / MARCH 23, 2015 MOVERIGHT.TV AIMS TO HELP CONSERVATIVES IMPROVE DIVERSITY

A new online television channel called MoveRight.TV launching next month aims to build viewership among racial minorities and women, constituencies the GOP struggles with at the ballot box.

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Under the motto of “Conservative Diversity. American Values,” the site is officially slated to launch April 15th. However, MoveRight.TV had a soft launch at the Conservative Political Action Conference last month, where correspondents spoke with well-known conservative figures ranging from Ben Carson to Carly Fiorina and Newt Gingrich. The platform also features content from outside producers such as RebelPundit, which produced a dramatic narrative from African-American activists questioning Democratic dominance among black voters.

The channel has been built by TV Worldwide, a non-partisan web production company launched in 1995 specializing in interactive, community-based channels targeting advocacy groups and specialized commercial audiences, including for Fortune 500 companies. TV Worldwide chairman and CEO Dave Gardy estimated that the company earns only between 5 and 10 percent of its revenues from political clients, thought he said TV Worldwide broke ground as the first company to webcast a political convention, the 2000 Democratic convention in Los Angeles. The company has also worked for clients ranging from Mark Warner to Frank Caprio and Ken Cuccinelli.

“We have a long history of pioneering solutions and building database audiences,” Gardy said in an interview with Opportunity Lives.“Our intent there [with the soft launch videos] is to foster interest from potential sponsors. We’re looking to see what happens after the hard launch … We’ve learned about demographics, and that’s why we’ve developed expertise about this.”

Gardy said his firm was approached by members of the conservative community who had studied American demographic and political trends and asked for help to build out the platform.

“They said ‘We think there are people in minority communities who have conservative values who have no contact for but would appreciate outreach to,’” Gardy said. “It’s not just racial minorities, it’s diversity across the spectrum … the goal is to create a community that basically would serve that target demographic audience, which is disseminated online. It’s not to treat them as minorities, it’s to say ‘This is a big tent, this is a melting pot.’”

TV Worldwide specializes in live, interactive webcasts, which he said is key to the future of television. He distinguished between what he called “lean out” and “lean in” television, where a passive, relaxing audience consuming media without interactivity would be “leaning out” and a viral, interactive, social-media rich community would be “leaning in,” particularly online.

“We want our content to go viral, so we’ll put share elements on it,” he said. “We’re looking for lean-in. We don’t expect people to come home, plug in their computer in the den and watch our channel online while sitting in a Lazy Boy.”

Gardy said the team has had discussions about syndication or repurposing and sharing content on other sites. The platform is for-profit, and Gardy’s team is considering several revenue streams, from advertising pre-roll during content to advertorial pieces to advertising video alongside editorial content and potentially pay-per view. Another potenial revenue stream is from outside groups who produce their own content and would pay MoveRight.TV for distribution.

“We’re not against YouTube, but we just believe in trying to build content and database,” he said. “We want to get the traffic mainly because we want to build brand and have sponsors. We have talked to other media outlets because people are just interested in what we’re doing. As we’ve been putting up content from CPAC, some of those people have been distributing the content … If we’re intriguing people and we’re not even launched fully, we’re going to let that happen.”

The channel’s correspondents thus far include two African-American women, Maya Boston in Baltimore and Audrey Adams in New York City.

“They’re very talented on camera, and I think they appeal to our target demographic,” Gardy said. “I would classify them as politically neutral, but they believe that there are conservative people in the community. I was apprehensive looking for people in the community and I’m not limiting it to non-whites, because there’s women. We’re not anti-white male, the goal is to show diversity, which is a word that the liberal community loves to use. It doesn’t have to be part of their whole lexicon, it can be part of the conservative lexicon, too.”

Carrie Sheffield is Senior Writer at Opportunity Lives. You can follow her on Twitter @carriesheffield and on Facebook.

 

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HOW CAREFUL GUIDANCE GIVES FORMER PRISONERS A NEW LEASE ON LIFE

America Works keeps non-violent offenders out of prison by offering job training, counseling
  
COMMUNITY EMERGING LEADERSHow Careful Guidance Gives Former Prisoners A New Lease On Life

NEW YORK — Prison reform, including reducing recidivism, can strengthen individuals and families, and it’s a cause galvanizing both the right and left. While the intangible and unquantifiable benefits are enormous, reducing recidivism also saves taxpayers a hefty burden.

A new academic analysis from the Manhattan Institute for Public Policy shows how a relatively small investment can yield substantial results for both former prisoner and taxpayer.

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Through an enhanced job-training program run by an organization called America Works costing $5,000, scholars estimate average savings of about $231,000 for nonviolent ex-offenders. That is an astounding return of 46 times, a solid investment for taxpayers receiving savings on police expenses, legal and judicial bills, and prison costs.

“Very little research has been conducted on this topic,” according to authors Christopher Bollinger and Aaron Yelowitz, both economics professors at the University of Kentucky. “The results of this study have important implications for government policymakers, public and private social welfare agencies, and, of course, employers. Indeed, at a time of ever-tightening federal and state budgets and ever-rising costs of incarceration, the Obama administration and many state governments are seeking ways to reduce swollen prison populations, particularly the number of nonviolent criminals, partly by using new guidelines for early release. Likewise, many states are scrambling to find programs to sharply cut the number of repeat offenders.”

Bollinger and Yelowitz report that in the United States, more than 23 million criminal offenses were committed in 2007 triggering $15 billion in economic losses to victims and $179 billion in government spending. Sadly, of the roughly 650,000 inmates released from prisons and jails in the United States each year, the scholars report that as many as two-thirds will be arrested for a new offense within three years. However, the improved training seems to significantly benefit those with non-violent criminal histories (rather than violent criminal histories).

prisoner rehabilitation

“Only 31.1 percent of nonviolent ex-offenders who received enhanced training were arrested during the 18 to 36 months in which they were tracked, compared with 50 percent of similar participants who received standard training,” the authors wrote. “In contrast, former inmates with histories of violence were rearrested at virtually the same pace, whether they received enhanced training or not: 44.6 percent versus 42.6 percent, respectively.”

America Works, which also helps with job placement for veterans, is located in New York and six other states plus the District of Columbia. It uses what the scholars describe as “a tough-love approach,” that focuses on improving interpersonal communication and such “soft” skills as time and anger management.

“It places special attention on teaching practical skills that many former inmates never acquired, such as résumé preparation, search strategies, and interview techniques,” Bollinger and Yelowitz report. “And it uses a network of employers, who are open to hiring ex-offenders and with whom it has long-term relationships, to place clients. Its goal is not only to help former inmates find jobs but also to keep jobs, and it provides follow-up services for six months.”

Since 1984, America Works has successfully matched over 300,000 job seekers with thousands of employers. The scholars studied the enhanced America Works services from June 2009 to December 2010, with a randomized trial involving 259 ex-offenders in New York. Participants, all men, had been released from a prison, jail, or youth correctional facility within six months of acceptance into the program. Approximately half of the participants received enhanced employment services from America Works while the other half received typical services, also provided by America Works.

The authors do place a caveat on the result because of the sample size. Digging into their results, Bollinger and Yelowitz also noted that the enhanced services had the best impact among nonviolent criminals with the fewest prior charges. They also found variation among three types of nonviolent offenders: property offenders, offenders imprisoned for sale or possession of drugs, and those with minor offenses. Ex-offenders with property crimes and those with minor offenses were found to be most responsible for positive recidivism results. The subset with a history of drug crimes appeared to have no significant impact on recidivism results.

A movement called “Ban the Box” is seeking to prevent employers from asking prospective hires whether they have a criminal history, a controversial policy opposed by employers and the broader business community. The work from Bollinger and Yelowitz shows that perhaps a better approach is transparency combined with improved training for ex-offenders. Their study reveals such an approach is just the first step, though, since it appears training for violent criminals is a much more difficult task. Yet their insights are important as policymakers continue on the path toward prison reform.

Carrie Sheffield is Senior Writer at Opportunity Lives. You can follow her on Twitter @carriesheffield and on Facebook.