News Training

10:22 am
Thu April 25, 2013

The Elements of Photography and Visual Storytelling [VIDEO]

Capturing THE moment while on assignment.
Credit 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.

Read more
Local Stories Project
3:16 pm
Wed April 24, 2013

Six Tips for Creating Shareable, Local Content

The Local Stories Project is a testing ground for understanding our audience and the local stories they share.

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

Read more
My So-Called Digital Life
2:25 pm
Mon April 22, 2013

A Peek Inside Jim Hill's Digital Life

Credit 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. 

Read more
About Us
1:54 pm
Mon April 22, 2013

April Newsletter: Meet Steve Mulder

Credit Steve Mulder

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

Read more
Editorial Monthly Newsletter
1:36 pm
Mon April 22, 2013

Station Spotlight on St. Louis Public Radio, Local Stories Project and Training Updates

In the Local Stories Project, stations from across the country share ideas and knowledge.
Credit 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

Read more
3:38 pm
Fri April 19, 2013

How to Establish Your Digital Workflow [VIDEO]

Mark Brush's desk
Credit 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.

Read more
Beyond the Newsroom: Harnessing Your Community
3:02 pm
Fri April 19, 2013

How to Turn Local Thinkers and Influencers Into Digital Contributors [Video]

Is there a world renowned professor at a nearby university? How about a famous local chef? A local filmmaker, artist or writer? The people who make up your community don't have to just be sources in stories — they can be part of the storytelling process. This is the idea behind Cognoscenti, WBUR's new ideas and opinions site. The site is made up of contributors from Boston's community of thinkers and influencers.

In this webinar we had a conversation with Iris Adler and Frannie Carr Toth, who run Cognoscenti.

Read more
Data Journalism
5:49 pm
Tue April 16, 2013

How St. Louis Public Radio is Using Data Reporting to Track Lobbyist Money



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.

Read more
Habits for Your Digital Newsroom
1:25 pm
Mon April 15, 2013

The Basics of Data Journalism [VIDEO]

An example of advanced data journalism from StateImpact Pennsylvania.

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.

Read more
2:20 am
Fri April 12, 2013

Writing for the Web Session: Webify or Go Native [VIDEO]

Write like your hair is on fire!
Credit 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. 

Read more