What is Digital Syndication for Public Radio?

Apr 19, 2018

On your Core Publisher site right now, chances are there are stories that were not written by your organization. Likely, these are stories from NPR, other member stations, or organizations in public media. These digitally syndicated stories display content from a partner or third-partner natively on your site or app and are an important part of your station’s digital strategy.  Digital syndication within our NPR member-station network has some specific characteristics:

  • What’s syndicated: The most frequently syndicated examples often reinforce your broadcast syndication, and are from shows like Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here & Now, or Fresh Air.

  • Core Publisher will translate and present your syndicated stories: Syndicated content does not have any formatting associated with it. Audio always appears at the top of the story, and images appear in a slideshow.

  • Syndicated stories are published stories: Content syndicated to Core Publisher through the NPR Story API is uneditable; you cannot change the text, imagines or audio in stories you syndicate. (As a reminder, if you do see something amiss with a story you’ve syndicated, send a note to corrections@npr.org, so we can make it right).
 This is unlike AP or Reuters content, which if licensed appropriately, you may be able to edit.

  • Organize syndicated stories just like local stories on your platform: You’re able to add programs, tags, categories, or topics to syndicated stories to support your content strategy and for the benefit of your readers.

  • Readers can access the original version of the story, but that’s not primary goal: There will be links back to the original creator of the story in the footer, but a syndicated story will appear in full. A 'webclip' is an embedded preview of a story that links back to the original story on a different site.

Like any of the tools Core Publisher provides, syndication itself is neither good nor bad, but its effectiveness depends on how you use it. How you syndicate as a station and what you syndicate should be based on strategic, informed decisions. Thoughtful, intelligent syndication can expand the reach of the story and improve audience engagement, SEO, and loyalty. Conversely, unfocused syndication can negatively impact a site’s performance. We recommend you develop a syndication strategy that works best for your audience, taking into consideration consumption habits of users we’ve observed on station sites through our Analytics team.

  • Syndicated stories should be relevant to your audience. It may sound obvious, but not all national content is as relevant to your audience as quality, local content or content relevant to your station's vertical. Similarly, news content isn’t valuable to your audience if you’re a site for a music station.

  • Less is more. Targeted, directed syndication will provide more value for your station’s audience than a site filled with stories they can find on NPR.org or other member stations.

  • Editorial decisions have lasting impact. Users will not always be able to recognize that a syndicated story comes from another source. We recommend applying the same thoroughness when syndicating a story as you do when publishing a local story.

Over the next few months, we will be providing more guidance on why syndication can be helpful or harmful, how to make updates to your syndication settings, and how to more effectively syndicate stories using the Core Publisher tools at your disposal. 


  • See our April Analytics Webinar for recent updates on web metrics and best practices on story syndication.
  • You can also review our support center article on publishing national content via Core Publisher.