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.

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


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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Beyond the Newsroom: Harnessing Your Community
3:02 pm
Fri April 19, 2013

How to Turn Local Thinkers and Influencers Into Digital Contributors [VIDEO]

Is there a world renowned professor at a nearby university? How about a famous local chef? A local filmmaker, artist or writer? The people who make up your community don't have to just be sources in stories — they can be part of the storytelling process. This is the idea behind Cognoscenti, WBUR's new ideas and opinions site. The site is made up of contributors from Boston's community of thinkers and influencers.

In this webinar we had a conversation with Iris Adler and Frannie Carr Toth, who run Cognoscenti.

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Local Stories Project
9:56 am
Wed April 17, 2013

What You Should Know About the NPR Local Stories Project

In the Local Stories Project, stations from across the country share ideas and knowledge.
Credit Via Flickr user Dave77459/Creative Commons

What is the Local Stories Project? In a nutshell, it’s a collaborative project between NPR Digital Services and stations. We take local public media stories, make them shareable and deliver them to the people who care most about them. The result: huge spikes in traffic to member station sites, hundreds of shares and localized community-focused comment threads.

We started this project in 2011 as a Facebook experiment with one station. We're now partnered with 33 stations in 28 cities, with more to come. We invite all interested public media stations to apply for the next round here.

So, how does the Local Stories Project work?

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9 Types
11:15 am
Thu November 29, 2012

9 Types of Local Stories that Foster Engagement [INFOGRAPHIC]

Credit Russ Gossett

Here at NPR Digital Services we've conducted a study to determine the 9 types of local content that cause the most engagement and sharing. Go here for background on the study including results.

Designer Russ Gossett created an infographic that you can print and tape to your cubicle or desk. Find that here.

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