NPR Training
Storytelling tips and best practices


A good lead is everything — here’s how to write one

Hannah Bloch is a digital editor for international news at NPR. She also wrote this post on writing short.  I can’t think of a better way to start a post about leads than with this: “The most important sentence in any article is the first one. If it doesn’t induce the reader to proceed to the Continue Reading >

How to write short

Hannah Bloch is a digital editor for international news at NPR.  Short writing may not seem like a natural goal for journalism on the web. It’s easy to assume there’s infinite space to fill up, and if we’ve done all the reporting and have tons of material, well, why not? But just because there’s a Continue Reading >

You made good radio — now make good internet

This post was written as a companion guide to a session at the 2016 Audio Storytelling Workshop in Washington, D.C. You’re probably here because you’re about to embark on a new, exciting audio storytelling project. Whether it’s a radio series or podcast, you likely have hours of recording, writing and editing ahead of you. But Continue Reading >

Want to start a newsletter? Read this first

In case you haven’t heard, newsletters are back (and bigger than ever). A regular email is a great way to connect with your audience in a really intimate way — and it might be the first step to turning a casual listener into a super fan. But you shouldn’t start a newsletter without thinking deeply about what you’re trying to Continue Reading >

Plan your editorial project in 13 steps (and with lots of sticky notes)

Sometimes project planning gets silly. In this photo, Carmel Wroth, who runs Side Effects Public Media, becomes one with the stickies. (Photo by Michelle Faust) So you’ve decided to launch a new project — a vertical, a series, or something else. What happens next is usually a flurry of questions. Where do we start? What should we cover? What Continue Reading >

Webinar: Inside Vermont Public Radio’s longform Bernie Sanders project

In October 2015, Vermont Public Radio aired an hour-long program that took an extensive look into the life of presidential candidate (and Vermont senator) Bernie Sanders. From his school days in Brooklyn to college in Chicago to his first foray into politics and his presidential bid. But this wasn’t only a radio program. It was also Continue Reading >

7 things we learned about our audience from the Iowa caucuses

Dan Frohlich is a digital metrics analyst at NPR Monday’s Iowa caucuses resulted in record voter turnout (at least on the Republican side), but did that translate into increases in audience listening, web traffic, or social media engagement? In many cases the answer was most definitely “Yes!” had 80 percent more users than the last Iowa Continue Reading >

What it looks like when a radio story shines on the internet

Greg Myre is the International editor for Follow him on Twitter at @gregmyre1 Radio stories and text or visual stories are very different. Different formats. Different audiences. Different techniques. That’s why a strong audio piece often does not translate into something that works well for the Internet. People don’t like to read radio scripts that are Continue Reading >

How to make great headlines

Colin Dwyer and Stephanie Federico are digital editors at NPR. You can save and print a headline tip sheet here. How can you make great headlines? More than anything, you need an interesting story. Even the greatest headline writer in the world will fail with a boring or confusing story. That’s because the best headlines aren’t necessarily Continue Reading >

This headline process can make your stories better

The exercise of coming up with a headline can also be a great way to come up with the right story idea. Here are a few ideas to get you started. While you’re at it, read this post to learn the characteristics of a great headline. Start brainstorming headlines at the idea stage Headline writing is an Continue Reading >

9 types of local stories that people like to share

Note: This post was co-written in 2012 by Teresa Gorman, a former member of the NPR Training team. It was originally published in Nieman Lab.  When you come across a story about your town, city or state, what makes you want to share it? We conducted an experiment using local stories from NPR member stations on Facebook to find Continue Reading >

Acting on analytics: Using data to make editorial decisions

If you publish to a website, you probably have access to some sort of analytics dashboard where you can see which posts are performing well — and which ones aren’t. But what actions can you take with that information? This document will help you use metrics data to make informed editorial decisions. (Print it out!) Continue Reading >

How a radio show can make great web content

Teresa Gorman is a former member of the NPR Training Team. Taking time to make show segments more web-friendly is not easy for many shows. To hear more about how one show does it, we turned to Jody Avirgan. At the time we spoke to Avirgan, he was a producer for WNYC’s midday talk show, Continue Reading >

A review of basic analytics terms for understanding digital audiences

Teresa Gorman is a former member of the NPR Training Team.  When someone reads or listens to our stories, we use a few different methods to keep track of them. These metrics are the baseline for what we measure when we look at our audience. We do this with Google Analytics, which is a good Continue Reading >

Digital inspiration for the stressed out public radio reporter

Teresa Gorman is a former member of the NPR Training Team. Question: For small (or understaffed) stations, has it been worth trying to get reporters to produce stories for both radio and web/mobile platforms, or is it better to focus a reporter on one medium? This question has one clear answer – reporters should handle Continue Reading >

Tips for creating shareable, local content

Teresa Gorman is a former member of the NPR Training Team.  Writing shareable local stories 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.). We asked some of the current station editors involved with the project to Continue Reading >

How to pitch a digital project at your station

Teresa Gorman is a former member of the NPR Training Team. Question: I have the idea for a blog for my station. How would one convince upper management that this project is worth the time and effort? What tips do you have for pitching digital projects? We hear versions of this question a lot. Since every Continue Reading >

Open copyright: How to find images, music and audio

Jane Gilvin is a Data & Search Strategist at NPR. Have you heard of openly copyrighted materials and wondered if they are something you can use? This post provides a basic introduction to what open copyright is, and what photograph, music and other audio resources are available to you. The organization Creative Commons (CC) offers copyright licenses with Continue Reading >

With the right packaging, serious stories can be shareable, too

Graphic by Russ Gossett/NPR Note: This piece was originally published on November 13, 2013, by Eric Athas and Teresa Gorman (Teresa is a former member of our training team). We’ve re-published it here with small updates.   We’ve heard this a lot lately: Fun stories, not serious stories, work on social media. But we’ve found otherwise. You Continue Reading >

Get to know Instagram

Teresa Gorman is a former member of the NPR Training Team. Who Instagram users are “nearly as likely as Facebook users to use the site on a daily basis,” according to Pew Research Center. While there aren’t nearly as many users as Facebook, they are younger. Plus, there’s a lot of cross-posting between Instagram and Continue Reading >

5 principles of web writing

Teresa Gorman is a former member of the NPR Training Team.  Online and radio audiences take in our stories in different ways. Because of this, sometimes you will want to “webify” or rewrite a radio piece for the web. We don’t recommend doing this for every radio story. In fact, we often suggest writing a web post first Continue Reading >

NPR Ethics Handbook

The NPR Ethics Handbook is designed to help our journalists make thoughtful, principled decisions. It is not a series of commandments. Instead, it offers frameworks and guidance. It is also a “living” document. While our core principles do not change, we review and adjust our thinking as issues arise. The Handbook is designed to accommodate Continue Reading >

An accuracy checklist to take with you

Mark Memmott is NPR’s Standards & Practices Editor. A version of this post originally appeared in one of his “Memmos.” The checklist that follows is a reminder of things we all know we should do. It’s meant to be particularly useful to correspondents and producers. They collect the information we put on the air and online and Continue Reading >

3 Google search tips from NPR’s Research Strategy & Archives Team

Everyone knows Google is a powerful portal to digital information, but a more daunting task is sorting through results to find the exact piece of information that will make your piece fuller and more informative.  The NPR Research Strategists are here to share three tips we use to get more precise and relevant results. Searching across Continue Reading >

8 things to keep in mind when writing for the web

When you’re writing a piece for the web, here are a few points to keep in mind: Get to the point quickly Think about the people who will read your blog posts. They’re looking at it on their desktop or mobile device. They’re coming from social media or search. They’re also scanning through a lot Continue Reading >