UPDATE Sept. 3, 2014:
In September, we invited stations to submit applications to join the Local Stories Project. We received applications from a record 23 stations and we’re excited to announce that eleven stations are joining the project this month.
The new stations are: WGBH, KPBS, WNPR, VPR, KERA, West Virginia Public Broadcasting, WOSU, WJCT, WUWM, WPLN and MPR’s The Current. They join KPLU, WBUR, KQED, KUT, KPCC, KUNC, KUOW, WAMU, WLRN, OPB, WHYY’s NewsWorks, WFPL News, Michigan Radio, WXPN, KUER, St. Louis Public Radio, KTOO, MPR News, Boise State Public Radio, KALW, WESA and KCUR. This project began two years ago with KPLU. It now includes 33 stations covering nearly 30 cities and states.
Briefly, Local Stories Project is a collaboration between NPR Digital Services and member stations. We distribute compelling, shareable local stories through the NPR Facebook page, geotargeted to a station’s home market. Those stories reach a wider audience, drive more traffic back to station websites and help to enhance a station’s digital presence in its community. Here’s more information.
We created a somewhat stringent set of requirements for the project, based on what we discovered as we tested it. It’s fair to say the highest barrier to entry is the presence of a full-time digital journalist who has a demonstrated ability to create digital stories. Not a lot of stations have an editorial person who devotes the majority of their time to editing and creating content for the site. But, interestingly, the number of stations making this kind of hire is growing, despite the cost. This investment is often transformational: the stations with the most success in growing audience for digital news have done so with such a person in the newsroom. Many factors contribute to digital success, but our experience shows us this is one of the most important.
What’s Next for the Local Stories Project
The new stations are going through their training bootcamp right now and submitting stories to the editors in Boston. Are we planning another application round? Yes, we’ll look for interested stations again in spring 2014.
One of the core missions of the Local Stories Project is helping stations understand their digital audience. Just as we’ve developed and perfected a range of storytelling techniques for our radio audience, we are trying to uncover how to reach a larger digital audience with the important journalism we’re creating every day.
Here are some ideas you can use right now on your station’s Facebook page.
Want to follow Local Stories Project stations on Twitter? Here’s our list.