Taking News Training to the Next Level

Sep 13, 2013

Michigan Radio's Tamar Charney and Vince Duffy present at the NPR DS/Knight Leadership Conference
Credit Todd Mundt, NPR
  The NPR Digital Services/Knight Foundation Digital News Training is quite likely the largest training initiative ever undertaken in public media.

Over nearly two years, forty-seven stations have participated in our 11-week intensive training, and our news trainers have conducted on-site trainings at eight stations. In addition, NPR DS weekly webinars have reached about 1,800 participants at 245 member stations. (All of our webinars are archived, available for you and your team at any time.)

Our next intensive training is next week and we will be taking a new, experimental approach. There are two reasons for this: first, we’ve seen a leveling off of demand from capable stations for the basic digital news training that we offer; and second, a number of stations have requested a next level training that explores specific challenges they face as they grow their digital operations.

Thirteen stations will participate in this pilot NPR DS/Knight Training, covering three tracks: how editors and news directors collaborate in a multi-platform newsroom; how stations can build successful and sustainable verticals; and how newsrooms can harness visual storytelling to enhance digital reporting.

Editorial Leadership in a Multi-Platform Newsroom

Editors and news directors play a critical role in establishing and encouraging new workflows, experimentation, and newsroom buy-in as organizations build digital platforms. Much of our training, up to now, has focused on best practices for reporters and digital practitioners, but this new pilot training is designed so editors and news directors can learn from experts and from each other about efficient newsroom management as demand grows for digital content.

We’ll have sessions on content planning strategies across platforms, storytelling on mobile devices, strategies for breaking news coverage, developing thriving social media communities around content, and digital/broadcast collaborations for series or special projects.

Stations participating in this track: KPBS, KPCC, WBUR, Michigan Radio, KPLU, WNYC, St. Louis Public Radio, KQED.

Building Strong, Sustainable Verticals

More and more stations are investing in building content verticals online: in some cases, these are new ventures, like KPLU’s Quirksee blog; in others, they are digital buildouts of existing newsroom beats. But many stations are struggling to develop a measurable return on this major investment of time and effort. We’ve worked with a number of stations to develop specific, manageable content plans to guide not only their coverage but how they use social channels to build audience. This fall, we’ll conduct an experimental training with two organizations: KERA and WFPL News/Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.

Visual Storytelling

We’ll work with three stations looking to increase their visual storytelling capacity. Our pilot training will include sessions on best practices as well as content planning and using social media.

Stations participating in this track: North Country Public Radio, WOSU, WXPN.

We’re excited that our training is evolving because stations are evolving in how they look at the digital platforms and the level of investment they’re able to make in them. We’ve been impressed by what these stations have achieved and we expect to learn at least as much from them as they learn from us.

And by the way, our traditional 11-week training lives on. Every webinar we've produced is archived and available on-demand, and we'll be launching a DIY version of the 11-week training for your team.