News Training

Sam Sanders/NPR

In this webinar, multimedia trainer Kainaz Amaria, takes you on a photographic journey from understanding the fundamentals visual storytelling to what makes a good image and how you can make (not take) better portraits.

Six Tips for Creating Shareable, Local Content

Apr 24, 2013

Creating digital stories that people living in your city will share and talk about doesn’t have to be complicated. 

A Peek Inside Jim Hill's Digital Life

Apr 22, 2013
Jim Hill

People involved in public media share how they wade through the digital news deluge. This month we spoke with Jim Hill. Jim is the Digital Media Manager for KUNC. If his name sounds familiar, it’s because he has been a guest webinar host several times. 

April Newsletter: Meet Steve Mulder

Apr 22, 2013
Steve Mulder

Meet Steve Mulder Director of User Experience & Analytics at NPR Digital Services. 

Via Flickr user Dave77459/Creative Commons

Ahhh April. This month we shared lessons on analytics, data journalism and launched the Local Stories Project. Our DC contingent also started life in the brand new NPR HQ.  

We love hearing about (and highlighting) your digital efforts, providing an inside look at the digital lives of our public media colleagues and offering training to help you stay on top of digital storytelling.  Have a story to share for our next newsletter? Let us know by emailing

How to Establish Your Digital Workflow [VIDEO]

Apr 19, 2013
Mark Brush

Each reporter, news director, producer and editor will have their own way of doing things. But to be effective on air and online, it's important to have a newsroom workflow that everyone understands. To help you figure out what's best for your station, we interviewed four different people with different duties but similar ideas for how to be successful without being overwhelmed.

More than a year ago, we launched an experiment known as the NPR Facebook project. It was the first execution of a vision that seeks to find new ways to distribute quality local stories, grow audience and make stations stronger in their communities.

We're now calling it the Local Stories Project. I'd like to give you an update on our progress and announce an application process for stations to join the project later this spring.

Apply here.

Via Flickr user Dave77459/Creative Commons

UPDATE Sept. 3, 2014:

For the latest on The Local Stories Project, check the public homepage at and Twitter account @NPRLocal.

Original Post:  

What is the Local Stories Project? In a nutshell, it’s a collaborative project between NPR Digital Services and stations. We take local public media stories, make them shareable and deliver them to the people who care most about them. The result: huge spikes in traffic to member station sites, hundreds of shares and localized community-focused comment threads.

We started this project in 2011 as a Facebook experiment with one station. We're now partnered with 33 stations in 28 cities, with more to come. We invite all interested public media stations to apply for the next round here.

So, how does the Local Stories Project work?



Accepting money from lobbyists appears to be one of the few bipartisan issues that exists, St. Louis Public Radio’s Chris McDaniel wrote in a post announcing the launch of the “By the Numbers: Lobbying in Missouri” series.


Knowledge is power. A cliche, yes, but it's something that many digital newsrooms forget about when it comes to studying analytics. Or maybe they're selectively ignoring the numbers. Is it because the audience might be too small? Or that story they invested huge resources in is only managing a few retweets and likes on Facebook?

The Basics of Data Journalism [VIDEO]

Apr 15, 2013

When you say "data journalism," people often think of wiz-bang apps with all sorts of interactive features and sleek graphics. That's part of it for sure, but there is so much more that data can do, including becoming part of your daily routine. Those fancy apps, built with programmers, developers and data geeks can be really intimidating. But don’t let it scare you.

There are a gazillion things you can do without having a sliver of those computer programming skills—things that will help you hold public agencies accountable, increase government transparency and inform the public. 

Think of data as another source that allows you to speak with more authority, see beyond the clutter to the trends and facts that provide more information to the public than is otherwise available. Data is a powerful source that you are missing out on if you don’t try.

So, how do you find these kinds of stories that utilize data? Unfortunately, there’s no silver bullet. No pill you can take to make you start thinking like a data journalist. We'll walk through the basics here and provide you with external reading and tools that can help you become a data expert. Where do we start? By finding the data.

Five Ways to Find the Data
Same as any other story: with your journalist's curiosity, by following tips, fact-checking claims and observation. Remember, data can give you insights, but is very rarely THE story. Start by look  for clues that data exists – like online forms, charts, statistics. And Look for things that are quantified and recorded somewhere. Follow the paper trail and thinking about where this information goes.

  1. Use Google's Advanced Search, which allows you to search for specific file types such as spreadsheets (.xls), geodata (.kml) and .pdfs. You can narrow results down to specific urls or domain names.
  2. Call the agency you're interested in and see how they keep the data and if they have it online. Operate under the assumption that it is public information. Even if they agree to send it over, be sure to send an email outlining exactly what you want.
  3. Make your request clear and focused. You may also wish to explicitly ask for information in ‘disaggregated’ or ‘granular’ form.)
  4. If you need to file a Freedom of Information Act request, check out the law before you make your request.(Some states have digital records provisions and only have to give you data in the original format.)
  5. Ask academics, industry folks, watchdog groups, activists and worker bees where to find what you're after.

You've got the Data, Now Report With It
Once you have the data, analyze it. And we're talking about understanding every field in a spreadsheet. Know where it came from and check the math for errors. And then do the following:

  • Get data dictionary and/or code sheet to help interpret it.
  • Interview your data. And take notes.
  • Ask it simple questions to start out with. (look at averages, maximums, minimums, top tens, etc.).
  • Look at different ways to measure it (per capita, rate of change, change over time, etc.).
  • Put it into groups (geographical, historical, demographic) and compare those.
  • Approach data with caution (human error happens). Use tools like Open Refine to help check it.

The Basic Tools for Data JournalismYou've got the data. You've analyzed it. Now you want to do a little more with it. Here are the essential tools to help you tell the story.

Excel: Start with the simple actions like adding and subtracting and then move to pivot tables. They allows users to count the number of times something comes up, aggregate data or work out averages. (Tip: the "Help" function is Excel is really useful for explaining pivot tables.)
 Google Fusion: This is a free, versatile program that offers several functions (merge files, create graphs, charts, maps, filterable tables). You can easily share it and collaborate in it with coworkers.
 Google Charts: This is also free and helps you visualize the data.
 And, if you're feeling sporty, here are some advanced tools to play with:

To examine, migrate data: TextWrangler
To clean data: Open Refine
To do database analysis: Access, MySQL
To do GIS analysis: ArcGIS, QGIS

Here are great resources for learning about data reporting:

Here are great places to start looking for data:
 State Agency Databases wiki compiled by the ALA

American FactFinder (from the US Census) has all sorts of federal data.

NICAR’s database library (if you have the $)

A governmental agency near you!

There's a lot in here, but hopefully it's not daunting. If you want a more thorough walkthrough, check out the webinar video below that features Jessica Pupovac, Data and Digital Coordinator for StateImpact. Happy data hunting.

KatieKrueger / Flickr

There are two types of writing you can provide for your digital audience: webified radio stories and web-native content. When deciding what kind of coverage you want to provide, ask yourself a few questions: 

1. Who is my audience?
2. What is most relevant?
3. What's the best use of my time? 

When you sit down to write your story, take time with the lede, be brutal with quotes and add context where it's relevant. 

A Peek Inside Claire O'Neill's Digital Life

Apr 1, 2013

People involved in public media share how they wade through the digital news deluge. This month we spoke with Claire O’Neill. Claire is a multimedia producer-reporter for NPR. She has been at NPR since 2009. 

Three daily must reads:
As much as I’d love to proudly say, “The New York Times,” my daily reading routine usually works like this: I check email and Twitter throughout the day. I usually see where those sources (friends, news outlets and entertainers) take me. Sometimes it’s to The New York Times, but other times it’s some cute thing on Pinterest that I regret clicking. I promise my three weekly must-reads are a bit more thoughtful.

Three people you follow regularly online:

  • Well @oneillclaire has amazing Tweets. Plus I hear she’s trying to get a million followers so you should probably follow her.
  • @AdamFrank4: NPR’s 13.7 blogger has a PhD in astrophysics, but offers really approachable, provocative stuff.
  • @ProdigalSam: Just a regular guy being funny and making Twitter more pleasant. 
  • @LenaDunham: Well, she's younger than me and has a TV show and if that's not motivation I don’t know what is

    Basically, I look for originality.

Meet Kim Perry

Apr 1, 2013
Kainaz Amaria

Meet Kim Perry, Manager for Digital News Training.

How long have you been with NPR?

Five years.
 How did you get into journalism?
 My grandma Alene. She spent most of her life as a live-in cook. But she was always desperately opinionated about politics – often writing letters to the editor. At age 72 with a fifth-grade education, she became a columnist for the local paper. Inspired, I signed up for the student newspaper the next year. My mom had hoped I’d become a doctor…

Station Spotlight on WLRN and Training Updates

Apr 1, 2013

Hello and happy March*. This month we concluded one round of Knight Training at the same time as we launched our fourth 11-week session; conducted an intensive on-site training at WVXU and launched our social media marketing webinar series.

We love hearing about (and highlighting) your digital efforts, providing an inside look at the digital lives of our public media colleagues and offering training to help you stay on top of digital storytelling. 

Have a story to share? Let us know.  

For those of you who are interested in the event [Digital Day] we held in Austin (during SXSW) you can find the audio of the session here

*Life got ahead of us this month, but we are hoping April Fool's Day gives us a free pass. 

Mastering the Art of Live Blogging [VIDEO]

Mar 29, 2013

When we see "Live Blogging" on a page we're conditioned as news consumers to automatically think "breaking news" or "big story." (We've become Pavlov's news dogs.) Live blogging is a technique that has proven to be effective at delivering content the way our audience wants it--quickly and with multiple dimensions. As a newsroom, though, the prospect of live online coverage of an event can seem daunting. Fear not, we'll walk through how, when and why to live blog so that it can become a part of your coverage arsenal.

But first, let's define it.


Congratulations to the Winter 2013 #NPRKnight Twitter Contest winners!

We had another photo training session, this time with the newsroom at member station WVXU. The images made by the newsroom staff (above) celebrate the people and architecture of Cincinnati.

After the training, reporter Howard Wilkinson put his new-found photography chops to practice. He did a story on two unusual political allies - Ken Blackwell and Jerry Springer

A Guide to Marketing Your Station Online [VIDEO]

Mar 8, 2013

A Guide to Marketing Your Station Online 



Succeed on Twitter by Listening to Your Community

Mar 7, 2013

Last week, we asked people to give one Twitter tip to #NPRKnight journalists. The answer was clear: listen, listen and then listen some more.