NPR Training
Storytelling tips and best practices

Digital

6 tips for catching your writing mistakes (and protecting your credibility)

You, reporter/blogger, have been working on a story all day, and it’s deadline time. You hope your story’s free of typos and grammatical mistakes. But at this point, you’ve read it so many times, you fear you’ve missed something. No one is available to read behind you and it’s nearly time to hit “publish.” What Continue Reading >

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

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 second sentence, your article is dead.” — William Zinsser, On Writing Well No one wants a dead article! Continue Reading >

How to write short

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 lot of online real estate available doesn’t mean every story is Continue Reading >

You made good radio — now make good internet

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 before you get started — and to make the most of your time — you need to do a little 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)

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 shouldn’t we cover? Who’s our audience? How is our thing different from all of the others out there covering _______ (tech, health or something else)? In 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!” NPR.org had 80 percent more users than the last Iowa Continue Reading >

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

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 only slightly modified for web reading. But in some cases, when you have Continue Reading >

How to make great headlines

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 the ones that make people click — they’re the ones that promise great stories and then fulfill that promise. And 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

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 the answer and came up with nine different categories: Place Explainers, Crowd Pleasers, Curiosity Stimulators, News Explainers, Major Breaking News, Feel-Good Smilers, 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

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 both digital and radio duties. When reporters are responsible for creating Continue Reading >

Tips for creating shareable, local content

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 share their tips. Check out this Nieman Lab story for more information Continue Reading >

How to pitch a digital project at your station

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 station is different, there is no absolute best way to pitch Continue Reading >

Open copyright: How to find images, music and audio

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 photography, music and other audio resources are available to you. The organization Creative Commons (CC) offers copyright licenses with simple, easy-to-understand rights. Media with Creative Commons copyrights Continue Reading >

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

We’ve heard this a lot lately: Fun stories, not serious stories, work on social media. But we’ve found otherwise. You can shape serious stories to make them shareable and more informative for the public. We’re not talking about watering down serious journalism — we’re talking about crafting stories for the digital audience. This happens every Continue Reading >

5 principles of web writing

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 or completely separately. However, when it does make sense, there are 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

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 they are expected to do all they can to make sure that what we report is accurate. Think 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 >