Eric Athas

Senior Digital News Specialist

Eric Athas is on NPR's Editorial Coaching and Development team. He works with Member Stations and NPR journalists on social media, headlines, content strategy, coverage planning and other projects.

Prior to joining NPR in 2011, Eric was a digital editor and producer at The Washington Post.

Eric graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst with a degree in journalism. While he was a student at UMass, Eric was the editor of the daily newspaper, co-founder of the campus's first digital magazine, and a blogger for


News Training
12:06 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Your City Made a Top 10 List. Now What? [VIDEO]

When Dallas' skyline was voted best in the world in a contest, KERA's Eric Aasen wrote an interesting post compiling striking skyline photos and facts about how the skyline came to be.
Credit Flickr/SeanPinto

Do you live in the coolest city in the country? The most expensive? The least expensive? Or somewhere in-between? Rankings, Top 10 lists, surveys, state-by-state data — there's a lot of information out there about where your town stacks up.

In a webinar on Thursday, September 18, we discussed how to cover lists and rankings in a meaningful way. Boise State Public Radio's Emilie Ritter Saunders and KERA's Eric Aasen joined us to explain their own methods for covering these types of stories and shared some of their favorite examples.

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News Training
2:57 pm
Wed September 10, 2014

How To Create Audio For Social Media [VIDEO]

How can we get more ears on audio?
Credit Russ Gossett

Audio stories are full of interesting moments, but we rarely see those moments shared widely on social media. In a webinar on September 11, 2014, we talked about how NPR Digital Services and stations are experimenting to create shareable sound. We also heard from Nashville Public Radio's Mack Linebaugh and Emily Siner about how their newsroom creates social audio.

Watch the webinar below:

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11:43 am
Wed September 3, 2014

Local Stories Project Launches a Homepage and Twitter Account

Credit Russ Gossett / NPR Digital Services

In October 2011, we experimented with one Member Station and a Facebook feature that allows pages to geotarget stories to cities and states. In 2013, that small experiment grew into the Local Stories Project, a collaboration between NPR Digital Services and 33 member stations to create interesting, shareable stories about towns, cities, states and regions.

Today we're excited to announce the next chapter of the Local Stories Project: A public-facing homepage, new social platforms and three new stations. 

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4:33 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

With Audio Quizzes, KALW Finds A Unique Way To Tell Stories About The Bay Area

Credit Rich Black /

There are lots of tools you can use to experiment with audio storytelling – radio, digital, social, community engagement, quizzes. With Audiograph, KALW found a way to combine all of that into into one unique project.

Audiograph is a weekly feature at KALW. It uses "the sounds of voices, nature, industry, and music to tell the story of" the Bay Area.

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12:35 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Viral Audio: Experiments In Making Sound Spread

How can we get more ears on audio?
Credit Russ Gossett

By now you’ve likely come across Digg’s terrific piece on viral audio. And if you haven’t ventured beyond the headline, it’s worth a read. The piece picks apart this question: How come audio never goes viral?

That’s a question we’ve been exploring over the past year here at NPR Digital Services. We set out to solve the viral audio challenge and we’ve discovered a few things worth adding to the conversation

(Keep in mind: these finding are based on a small sample size.)

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Local Stories Project
12:07 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

Serious Stories Can Be Shareable, Too

Credit Russ Gossett

We’ve heard this a lot lately: Fun stories, not serious stories, work on social media.

But we’ve found otherwise. You can shape serious stories to make them shareable and more informative for the public. We’re not talking about watering down serious journalism — we’re talking about crafting stories for the digital audience.

This happens every day in the Local Stories Project, which curates the most shareable member station content and distributes it through the NPR Facebook page. We’ve seen that people have an appetite for interacting with important stories that affect their lives. We found similar results in our research into the types of local stories that foster engagement.

Still, we wanted to be sure. Can serious stories actually get as much attention as fun ones on social media? And how can reporters and editors shape serious stories so that the audience will like, share, comment, retweet, etc.?

To help answer these questions, we reviewed 809 stories from the Local Stories Project that we then classified as either fun or serious. These were station stories that were posted to the NPR Facebook page and geotargeted — only people in each station’s local region could see them.

The surprising results offer insight into how serious stories can be shareable.

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Local Stories Project
9:44 am
Wed November 13, 2013

Advice from Station Editors on How to Make Serious Stories Shareable

How do you make a serious story shareable?Through the Local Stories Project, we’ve found that serious stories can be just as -- and sometimes more -- shareable than fun stories. See our definitions of serious and fun stories.

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10:31 am
Thu August 8, 2013

9 Types of Local Stories that Cause Engagement

Credit Russ Gossett

When you come across a story about your town, city or state, what makes you want to share it?

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12:24 pm
Wed June 5, 2013

You Should Really Watch This Webinar on the Elements of a Good Headline

What makes a good headline?

This webinar covers how you should think about headlines, how you should approach them and some ways you can go about writing them.  

Some good headline writers to watch include: Gawker, Quartz, The Atlantic WireForbes and The Two-Way

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Beyond the Newsroom: Harnessing Your Community
11:28 am
Fri May 3, 2013

5 Ways ProPublica Uses Communities for Investigative Reporting [VIDEO]


In the latest NPR Digital Services webinar, we heard from Blair Hickman, the Community Editor at ProPublica.

Blair walked us through the life of ProPublica's  investigation into U.S. patient safety and the important role communities played in the process. 

Here are the five steps ProPublica takes for community-powered investigative reporting.

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