Editorial Best Practices


So you have a newly designed Core Publisher web site that's responsive and looks beautiful. 

Here are some things to keep in mind when you're creating stories in Core Publisher (or any content management system) to make sure you get the most out of it.

Original photo via Robert Scoble, Flickr, CC

The Online News Association is a membership organization for digital journalists. Their yearly conference is one of the biggest gatherings of digital minds from across the country. 

In this webinar, we shared 10 things we learned at ONA. Find the full video and a summary below. Want even more digital and social media tips? Click through our Editorial section, and don't miss daily tips from NPR's social media team in the Social Sandbox. 

There's no question that mobile is on top of journalists' and newsrooms' minds. Click through the notes on panels that talked about mobile at ONA here.  Then try this self-audit from Amy Webb's 10 Tech Trends for Journalists talk to learn more about what works on mobile and what doesn't. Pick 5 stories a day and interact with them in different scenarios and on different devices. 

How to Expand Your Reach on YouTube

Mar 26, 2014

Guests from YouTube recently joined stations for a talk on how to expand your reach on YouTube. Jason Hwang, Global Programs Manager for YouTube News, and Marina Abayev, New Partner Development for YouTube News, covered how to get started with the platform, the lifecycle of a video on YouTube, and shared information about YouTube’s partner program. Although the talk wasn't recorded, we've compiled some notes from what we found useful below.   

The social media team at The New York Times offers some of the lessons it's learned about serving its Twitter following in this post on the Nieman Lab blog. It has several ideas you can use to improve the quality of your own Twitter presence. A few standouts: use clear, concise writing that conveys the story you're pointing to; when you can, craft tweets by hand and don't rely on auto-posting; and don't be afraid to tweet a story multiple times when it resonates with your audience. The NYTimes team openly shares their hits and misses in this piece. Highly recommended.

Todd Mundt/NPR

We sat down with NHPR Digital Director Rebecca Lavoie to talk about their recent efforts to drive engagement to their site.

StateImpact’s Recipe for a Successful Blog

Dec 18, 2013
Becky Lettenberger / NPR

The StateImpact pilot project came to an end this past summer, but most of the reporting collaborations are continuing at stations around the country. Each team focused its reporting on one carefully chosen topic (fracking, for instance) and built its expertise and reputation.

NPR's Code Switch, a team that reports on race, ethnicity and culture, launched in April, 2013. Months later, their Twitter account has over 16,000 followers and they've had a variety of fascinating conversations on different social media sites with their audience. 

NPR Digital Journalist Kat Chow recently shared how they did it in a webinar with Digital Services. Watch the recording and read through a summary below.

Serious Stories Can Be Shareable, Too

Nov 13, 2013
Russ Gossett

We’ve heard this a lot lately: Fun stories, not serious stories, work on social media.

But we’ve found otherwise. You can shape serious stories to make them shareable and more informative for the public. We’re not talking about watering down serious journalism — we’re talking about crafting stories for the digital audience.

This happens every day in the Local Stories Project, which curates the most shareable member station content and distributes it through the NPR Facebook page. We’ve seen that people have an appetite for interacting with important stories that affect their lives. We found similar results in our research into the types of local stories that foster engagement.

Still, we wanted to be sure. Can serious stories actually get as much attention as fun ones on social media? And how can reporters and editors shape serious stories so that the audience will like, share, comment, retweet, etc.?

To help answer these questions, we reviewed 809 stories from the Local Stories Project that we then classified as either fun or serious. These were station stories that were posted to the NPR Facebook page and geotargeted — only people in each station’s local region could see them.

The surprising results offer insight into how serious stories can be shareable.

9 Types of Local Stories that Cause Engagement

Aug 8, 2013
Russ Gossett

When you come across a story about your town, city or state, what makes you want to share it?

Congratulations #NPRKnight Summer Contest Winners

Aug 1, 2013
JohnWiechecki/Flickr Creative Commons

It was a tough contest, but someone had to reign supreme. Congratulations to the #NPRKnight Twitter contest winners, honorable mentions and to everyone for making it through 11 weeks of training!

(Read more about the contest:  "How the #NPRKnight Contest Works.")

Without further ado, our winners:

Mining Social Media for Story Ideas [VIDEO]

Jul 1, 2013
MDGovpics (CC-BY)


Want to put social media and your community to work for you to find story ideas? Eric Athas and Teresa Gorman walk you through how to to utilize your social media community on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Reddit to find sources and story ideas for on-air and online.   


Six Tips for Creating Shareable, Local Content

Jun 12, 2013

Creating digital stories that people living in your city will share and talk about doesn’t have to be complicated. 
The Local Stories Project shows that the tactics to create shareable stories cross state lines (all the way from Alaska to D.C.).

via flickr/writetoreply (CC-BY)

We're working on a broader best practices document to outline methods for engaging the newsroom in analytics. For now, though, here's a way to start the conversation. No metric is a one size fits all. But there are two high level questions that should form the basis for any benchmark. Those are:

Is my audience growing?
Is my audience engaged?

What makes a good headline?

This webinar covers how you should think about headlines, how you should approach them and some ways you can go about writing them.  

Some good headline writers to watch include: Gawker, Quartz, The Atlantic WireForbes and The Two-Way

The #NPRKnight Spring Twitter Contest Winners Are...

May 31, 2013

Congratulations to the #NPRKnight Twitter scavenger hunt contest winners! 

(Read more about the tasks in the scavenger hunt and how the winners were selected in "How the #NPRKnight Scavenger Hunt Contest Works.")


Drum roll, please...

5 Lessons from WABE's Most Successful Pledge Drive (Ever)

May 21, 2013

WABE’s latest pledge drive resulted in 15,393 pledges and $2 million. The results weren’t a coincidence – WABE’s staff tried some new things and had a smart plan to get their listeners and readers pledging away. After noting their huge success, we asked Jason Parker, WABE digital media strategist, how it all happened. Here are five (ok six) lessons Jason shared.*

3 Ways Tweeting is Like Radio Reporting

May 14, 2013

Tweeting is not a skill that should come out of left-field for journalists that work in radio.

That's a key point that WBUR reporter Curt Nickisch made several times during a recent Twitter chat where he shared thoughts about his use of social media during the Boston Marathon bombings and manhunt, and also in his day-to-day work.

While it does take practice, here are three key ways radio reporters are already ahead of the game on Twitter:

On Point, Facebook

This is NPR has a post about the secret sauce that makes a great call-in radio show, based on best practices at NPR’s Talk of the Nation, WBUR’s On Point, and NHPR’s The Exchange. Among the ingredients:

Russ Gossett

Here at NPR Digital Services we've conducted a study to determine the 9 types of local content that cause the most engagement and sharing. Go here for background on the study including results.

Designer Russ Gossett created an infographic that you can print and tape to your cubicle or desk. Find that here.

UPDATE: April, 2014

This webinar is out-of date. Refer to Facebook's media guides for the most updated best practices for getting started on Facebook.   

Refer to Twitter's news guides for the most updated best practices for getting started on Twitter.  

To make the most of a station’s Facebook and Twitter pages for news, take a step back and evaluate what’s working and what’s not. 

The editorial team at Digital Services does assessments of stations’ sites and social media before working with them for news training, but you don’t need to wait for us to do an assessment. 

In a recent webinar, we shared what to look at initially,  and the deeper questions to ask to continue to build a community and audience on Facebook and Twitter. The video, slides and summary are below.