Johanna Blakley, PhD, is the managing director and director of research at the Norman Lear Center, a research and public policy institute that explores the convergence of entertainment, commerce and society. Based at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, Blakley performs research on a wide variety of topics, including global entertainment, cultural diplomacy, entertainment education, celebrity culture, fashion, digital media and intellectual property law. She has two talks on TED.com: Social Media & the End of Gender and Lessons from Fashion’s Free Culture. She speaks frequently in the U.S. and abroad about her research and her work has been cited in Reuters, the New York Times, The Economist, the Washington Post, The Atlantic, the Los Angeles Times, Politico, Huffington Post, Forbes, Business Week, PR Week and GOOD. She has appeared on Good Morning America, MSNBC, Al Jazeera and Current TV, and on several radio programs, including Planet Money and Marketplace.
In partnership with the Gates Foundation and the Knight Foundation, Blakley launched a major new research initiative at USC: the Media Impact Project collects and analyzes information from multiple institutions to provide thought leadership on the best ways to measure engagement with media and evaluate social impact. This project, which received $3.25 million in seed funding, builds upon Blakley’s extensive experience in entertainment education and her recent efforts to develop more sophisticated instruments to measure the impact of feature films and documentaries on the attitudes, knowledge and behaviors of viewers.
Blakley has overseen two major research initiatives about the impact of intellectual property rights on innovation and creativity – Ready to Share: Fashion & the Ownership of Creativity and Artists, Technology & the Ownership of Creative Content. Much of her work addresses the intersection between entertainment and politics, including two nationwide polls on the relationship between political ideology and entertainment preferences, and she co-authored a report on the Primetime War on Drugs & Terror. Blakley is a regular contributor to the Lear Center Blog, and she has guided more than forty manuscripts through the publication process at the Lear Center, including Warners’ War: Propaganda, Politics & Pop Culture in Wartime Hollywood. Blakley developed course materials on cultural diplomacy for the Masters in Public Diplomacy at Annenberg, and she teaches a course on transmedia storytelling in USC’s Masters in Professional Writing Program. She is currently co-directing a university-wide research initiative on Creativity & Collaboration in the Academy.
She received a PhD in English from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she taught courses on popular culture and twentieth-century literature. Blakley has held a variety of positions within the high-tech industry, including Web producer and digital archivist at Vivendi-Universal Games. She is on the advisory board of Women@Paley at the Paley Center for Media; FEM inc., a technology venture, the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities and TEDxUSC, the first TEDx event in the world. She is an advisor to the Aspen Institute and Active Voice. She’s on the editorial board of the International Journal of Gender, Science and Technology and she’s a founding member of the board of directors for Les Figues Press, a venue for literary experimentation.
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