A Quick Look Back at Two Years of #NPRKnight Station Digital News Training

Jun 25, 2014

In 2012, the Knight Foundation awarded a $1.5M grant to NPR in support of its efforts to expand the digital news capacity of NPR and NPR Member Stations. 

As we get ready to end the past two years of station digital news training funded by that grant, we thought we'd share some of the highlights that we've been able to accomplish thanks to collaboration between stations and NPR.

By the Numbers
NPR member station staff take part in a photo editing training activity at a Knight Foundation funded conference in March 2013.
Credit Kasia Podbielski

A quick snapshot of who has been reached in the past two years:

827 participants in 11-week trainings and intensive workshops.

68 stations from 35 states and the District of Columbia.

Over 2000 online webinar attendees.

Over 350 blog posts with webinars, tips and lessons. 

Using Digital to Serve Audiences and Tell Stories

Over the past two years, we've had the pleasure of working with and observing stations use multiple platforms in new ways to tell unique stories and serve their audiences, wherever they are. Here are just a few examples of some of that excellent work: 


Columbia, Missouri station KBIA recently won a well-deserved national Murrow award for best small market radio news site, During our training session with KBIA in the winter of 2013, we witnessed the staff’s quick action to use digital and social media to help locals in need when a severe snowstorm debilitated the University of Missouri Columbia campus. We’ve also highlighted KBIA’s innovative podcast CoMo Explained, which went directly to the reddit community for story ideas and questions to be answered about CoMo life.


Last year, during on-site training, the KCUR newsroom created a new content vertical:  borders, which explores how Kansas City’s geographical borders affect life. Kansas City’s stark geographical borders include the Kansas-Missouri state line, the Missouri river, and Troost Avenue. Over history, these borders have become racial and economical dividing lines that have wide-sweeping implications on the lives of Kansas Citians. During January 2014 Knight training, KCUR developed the first iteration of the project, which delves into the city's Troost Avenue. Along with an explainer, a hashtag, community roundtables, and neighborhood listening sessions, KCUR also launched the Tumblr awesomethingseastoftroost.tumblr.com


Vermont Public Radio has launched a project called Traces, which collects images, audio, and notes from Vermonters affected by drug addiction. VPR's John Dillon (news director), Taylor Dobbs (digital reporter), and Angela Evancie (digital producer), among others at VPR have been working on the project since participating in January 2014 Knight training. Browse Traces here: http://www.vpr.net/traces/


This November, Austin will elect City Council members for its newly drawn 10 districts. Most news organizations would be quick to mostly cover the political process of this story. But during Knight training in January 2014, KUT planned out a project that would tell this story through the voices of Austinites. Just a few weeks later, they launched On My Block, which asks residents a simple question: What's the one thing that would make life on your block better? The Tumblr curates residents' answers through images, audio, and video.  

West Virginia Public Broadcasting

When thousands of gallons of a chemicals spilled into a river impacting over 300,000 people in West Virginia in January, WVPB provided comprehensive coverage across platforms, especially on Twitter and Facebook. Before the spill, the newsroom participated in digital news training in May 2013 to hone their skills and to become ready for a situation just like this one.

Public Radio is Full of Talent
Member station staff pose for a photo during a Knight Foundation funded conference at NPR.

One of the highlights of our work was the opportunity to work with hundreds of member station journalists who created excellent work over the last two years. Stations and individuals we've worked with have in turn been eager to share their expertise, and to help each other learn.

We've highlighted the digital lives of several of those who have shared their expertise, including KPLU Online Managing Editor Martha Kang, WNPR Executive Producer Catie Talarski, WXPN Program Director Bruce Warren, Boise Public Radio Digital Content Coordinator Emilie Ritter Saunders, St. Louis Public Radio Engagement Editor Kelsey Proud and KUNC Digital Media Manager Jim Hill.

There are many more. We've asked all of them to share their thanks to the Knight Foundation on Twitter under the hashtag #NPRKnight on June 27. If you have something to share, go head over to Twitter to share your own thanks to Knight.

What's Next?

Our work doesn’t end here, of course. Please keep in touch and let us know what you’re up to via our new team email, coaching@npr.org, on Twitter @nprds, and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter to hear about future training opportunities.