Next generation content distribution, rebuilding the NPR Content API

May 5, 2016

Why do we need an API strategy?

NPR is poised to make great strides in digital content distribution in the rapidly evolving world, where audiences consume content in ways that go far beyond traditional radio. In order to achieve that success, we are building foundational API infrastructure that will enable fast and inspired innovation. The design of the infrastructure we’re building positions NPR to create products and experiences that achieve several of our key strategic goals including adding new audiences to our core, leveraging our station network, and building our content pipeline.

What is an API?

An API (Application Programming Interface) is the technology layer that lives beneath a digital product suit­e and operationalizes an organization’s business logic. At NPR, it is the system by which we identify who can have access to our content and how they can distribute it. It allows for seamless content flow between NPR and stations, strategic partners, public media partners, and end users.

What exactly are we building?

The NPR API team is spending the next year building the Public Media Platform API 2.0 (PMP 2.0). The technology will be customized for NPR’s use cases, optimized for member station use, and standardized for all of public media. This API will serve as a central repository for all public media content, including content from NPR, PBS, Public Radio Exchange, Public Radio International, and American Public Media. NPR will utilize the PMP 2.0 as its own digital content distribution platform, replacing the existing Story API as the technology that distributes content to all digital properties. Eventually, all NPR digital content distribution products (including NPR One, Seamus, Core Publisher and others) will utilize PMP 2.0.

What will this work enable?

Once the API infrastructure is in place, teams across the organization and at stations will be able to build new and exciting experiences on top of it, along several themes:


·       Collaborative editing and publishing platforms tuned for National/Local partnerships, LJCs, RJCs and other collaborative journalism efforts across the system

·       Unified social media strategies for collaborations

·       Evolving permissions for the collaborative editing workflow

·       “Set and Forget” options for automatic LJC content collection population.

·       Co-branding, co-attribution of content; revenue sharing opportunities

Content Curation and Browsing

·       Curation of packages of content by “trusted curators”

·       Beautiful content browsing tools for better content discovery

·       Better searchability – by region, station, author, topic, curator

·       Branding embedded in content – logos, sonic ids, advertising will travel with your content as it is distributed across the system

Comprehensive Rights Management

·       Granular image, audio, excerpt, video rights assignment at points of publishing (Seamus, News Flex, Core Publisher)

·       “Browse by rights” dashboard

·       Custom feeds for strategic partners based on rights clearance

Metrics and Analytics

·       API usage dashboard

·       NPR content distribution dashboard – how is NPR content being used, where, by whom. How engaging is that content?

·       Station-facing content distribution and API metrics dashboards – How is station content being used, where, by whom?

Data Unification

·       Salesforce implementation as “single point of truth”

·       Salesforce-driven business logic seamlessly shared across all digital products

The API team is spending the next year building the foundational technology that will power NPR’s content distribution and digital product innovation for several years. If you would like to know more about the technology, the opportunities it presents, or how this work dovetails with your team’s work, send an email to