Four More Stations Join the Local Stories Project

Jun 19, 2013

Reporter Erica Peterson, WFPL News
Credit Todd Mundt
Here’s an update on the Local Stories Project, which began a little over a year ago when we launched an experiment known as the NPR Facebook project. It’s the first execution of our vision to find a wider audience for local stories, grow audience and make stations stronger in their communities. The project currently distributes local stories through the NPR Facebook page, geotargeted to a station’s home market. And it continues to be successful. In April alone, the project accounted for more than 114,000 visits to station sites. Here are more details about the project.

In April, we asked for stations to apply to join the project, and many did. We’re happy to announce that four additional stations are now on-board: WXPN, KUER, Boise State Public Radio and KALW. They join KPLU, WBUR, KQED, KUT, KPCC, KUNC, KUOW, WAMU, WLRN, OPB, WHYY’s NewsWorks, WFPL News, Michigan Radio, St. Louis Public Radio, KTOO, MPR News, WESA and KCUR.

How we Selected Stations

We used a careful set of criteria to guide the selection process, based on what we discovered as we worked with the 18 stations that helped us test this concept. Some of these criteria help the project run more smoothly. If a station’s coverage area includes at least 5,000 NPR Facebook likes, that ensures a critical mass of followers who can engage with the content. Also, participation in the DS Station Analytics System helps us measure the results - and we do measure every single story we publish.

But there’s one requirement that’s not only key to the project, it’s transformational for stations: that is the presence of a full-time digital journalist who has a demonstrated ability to create digital stories. I use the word transformational because the stations which have seen the most success in growing audience for digital news have done so with such a person in the newsroom. So many other factors contribute to digital success, but our experience shows us this is quite likely the most important element and for many stations it’s a significant investment.

What’s Next for the Local Stories Project

The four new stations are going through their training bootcamp right now and are submitting stories to the editors in Boston. Once they’re at full speed, we’re going to launch another application round for stations to join the project. A number of stations that applied in April are really close to qualifying and we hope to welcome them this fall, and we’ll be looking for new faces, too.

So watch for the announcement for the next round of applications this fall.

In the meantime, here are some things we’re learning from stations in the project - lessons you can put to work right now on your station’s Facebook page.

Want to follow Local Stories Project stations on Twitter? Here’s our list.