NPR Training
Storytelling tips and best practices

A checklist to organize your story process

With so many different ways to tell stories, I created this checklist of questions to keep things organized. The list is a work in progress — often more aspirational than actual.

Pitch time

  • Is this a radio story, web story or both? (Consider content and turnaround time)
  • What visuals would make this an exciting story to see? Would this need a photographer? Who can I brainstorm with?
  • Any cool graphic, data or interactive ideas? Who can I brainstorm with? Are there easy tools to help me build it myself?
  • Should this go in the Parallels blog? Other NPR blogs?
  • Does this fit into any radio series or branded programming?
  • When am I going to write the web copy? When should I file?
  • What are my deadlines for all components?
  • Is there a callout or preview or public conversation with sources (even thanks for interviews) for NPR social media during reporting or in run-up to publishing?
    • If so, when should it go out? On which platforms?

Reporting time

  • What elements do I need be sure to get for all platforms? (i.e.: photos, money quote, one “take-away” fact, details for written text, ambi for radio, backstories or one liners for social media, etc.)
  • Can I do these all at once or do I need more than one visit?
emily-in-gaza_wide-6c7f2cb6cf5f81950c916b0ed5eaed0f763ceac1-s1400-c85

Former NPR Jerusalem correspondent Emily Harris gathers sounds in the Gaza Strip, where sewage is being pumped into the Mediterranean Sea. (Photo courtesy of Emily Harris)

Edit time

  • Should I focus first on writing the web text or making the radio?
  • What’s my headline?

Social (at or after writing / edit time)

My platforms

  • What’s my Twitter quote or fact?
    • When should that go up?
  • Who can I tweet at when the story is done (with the link)?
    • When should I do that?
  • What’s my Facebook / Instagram extra — photo, question or backstory?
    • When is it going up?
    • Who can I tag?
  • Is there an audio clip (that made it in to the story or not) I can share on social media?

NPR platforms

  • What’s my pitch to NPR social?
    • Who do I contact and how?

When published

  • Who do I need to thank? What’s the best way? (social, email, call)
  • Who do I need to share a link with?
  • Who else can I share a link with?

An example list

emily-harris-example-list


Emily Harris is a former NPR International Correspondent.