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Slideshow: The 2012 All-Team Retreat

Our queen of multimedia, Becky, and our designer, Danny, took quite a few photos of our time together this week. Thanks to the reporters and news directors who came in from eight states for two action-packed days of training, planning and recharging. Here’s a look at some of our faves, displayed in the custom Project Argo slideshow tool (available on the StateImpact platform, too!)

The StateImpact Fly-In 2012 Day One, Storified

For an intense Monday and Tuesday this week, reporters and news directors from our eight StateImpact states are on the ground at NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C., to discuss where we’ve been and where we’re headed.

Since so much is packed into single days, I’m breaking up our Storifies into Day One and Day Two. Herewith after the jump:

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StateImpact Wins Five Edward R. Murrow Awards in Four States

Congratulations to StateImpact states of Idaho, Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania for racking up wins in several categories of the Radio-Television Digital News Association’s annual Edward R. Murrow Awards. (See full list of winners.)

StateImpact Idaho takes home a Murrow in Region 1 for Audio News Series for Jobless in Idaho, an on-air and online exploration of several Idahoans who are out of work and looking for work.

StateImpact Texas’ ongoing drought coverage, which was part of a package of reporting by KUT-FM in Austin, won for Audio Continuing Coverage in Region 6.

StateImpact Texas’ Houston station, KUHF-FM, also took home a regional Murrow for Dave Fehling’s report “Not Under My Backyard” in the Hard News Reporting category.

StateImpact Florida nabbed an award for Audio Investigative Reporting for its piece, “No Choice: Florida Charter Schools Failing to Serve Students with Disabilities” in Region 13.

StateImpact Pennsylvania won for Best Website in Region 11, marking another digital win for StateImpact sites after picking up blogging awards from the Education Writers Association earlier this year.

Congrats, these are all well deserved! And it’s quite an array of reporting categories we’ve won in, as well — hard news reporting, investigative reporting, series, website, continuing coverage — it’s a testament to your many diverse talents. Onward to June, to see how these regional winners fare in the national contest.

StateImpact Texas on the TV

Terrence Henry / StateImpact Texas

Terrence gets a credit on Newshour.

Congrats to StateImpact Texas, whose relentless coverage of their state’s worst drought in history led to a collaboration with PBS Newshour last week. It’s part of Newshour’s project that focuses on the impact of climate change on communities across the country. To tell the stories, they are partnering with local public media in affected places.

StateImpact reporter Terrence Henry was even credited as a production assistant on the program, for his contributions to the show (woot!). Here’s Terrence’s take, followed by video of the segment:

“For their first story, they wanted to look at how the drought has impacted Texans, and what role climate change played in that. They had been using our drought reporting for researching their piece, and contacted us to see if we wanted to collaborate on their story. So we helped them research their reporting trip, identifying the best places and people to focus on, and shared our sources and contacts from our drought reporting. We spent two days with them reporting here, even conducting some of the interviews. And we were able to share some b-roll from our rice farmers video that was used in the broadcast as well. They’ve been putting up video segments all week linking to us, and we’ve been embedding them and linking back in return. When the ten minute segment aired on Newshour, StateImpact Texas was credited during the lead-in and also given a production credit.

All in all it was a great experience, bringing national attention to both the issue and our reporting. Newshour has also made available additional materials that didn’t make the broadcast that we’ll use for content on the site in the weeks to come.”

Congrats to Team Texas. Great job.

StateImpact Florida Nabs Two Education Writers Association Awards

Scott Finn / WUSF

John and Sarah at work last summer.

Congrats to John O’Connor and Sarah Gonzalez, winners in the Education Writers Association National Reporting Contest. The team placed first in the journalism blogging category, and second in broadcast investigative reporting for their piece, “No Choice: Florida Charter Schools Failing to Serve Students with Disabilities.”

This is a huge honor and I know it’s only the start of all the awards your reporting efforts will rack up in the coming months and years. From EWA:

EWA – the only professional organization for members of the news media who specialize in education – each year recognizes excellence on the education beat across multiple media through its National Awards for Education Reporting. In print, radio, television and online, the work of EWA award-winners reaches millions, furthering the association’s mission of increasing the quantity and quality of education coverage across the nation.

For this year’s contest, our panel of judges has selected 61 winning entries from a total of 340 submissions. The winner of the Fred M. Hechinger Grand Prize for Distinguished Education Reporting will be selected from among the first-place award recipients and will be announced at EWA’s 65th National Seminar in May.

Congrats to John and Sarah and their editors Dan and Scott. We’re so happy for y’all! Well deserved honors.

Related: StateImpact Florida is a Winner

Meet the Team: Program Director Lynette Clemetson, a.k.a. “Sky Collins”

Becky Lettenberger / NPR

Welcome Lynette, our new program director!

The team here at NPR is so excited to start off 2012 with a new program director, Lynette Clemetson. She was most recently the edi­to­r­ial direc­tor of the Pew Cen­ter on the States where she worked on a new digital strategy for its site, Stateline.org. But like much of the rest of your DC-based team, she’s a reporter at heart. Lynette was a longtime Asia correspondent for Newsweek (she speaks Mandarin Chinese, I can attest) and a domestic correspondent for The New York Times before she was lured into managerial roles, like helping launch The Root, a culture and politics site geared to an African-American audience.

To help you get to know her, she kindly participated in my getting-to-know-you questionnaire.

I would love to be able to cook. I mean really cook, like Top Chef cook, so that I could break out of my “six quick meals I can make in 30 minutes after work” funk.

My grandmother was a hero for me. She was born in Alabama, and she had to get a notarized birth certificate to come to my wedding in Hong Kong, because they didn’t give black people birth certificates in Alabama when she was born. She saw a lot of changes in her life and had amazing strength and grace. And she totally rocked the trip to Hong Kong!

My favorite journey was probably my first flight into Hong Kong’s old Kai Tak airport, flying in so tight between buildings, seeing people’s laundry on the lines.

My favorite big story: Covering the 1997 Hong Kong handover for 72 hours straight.

Favorite interview: Probably “Broken Tooth” Koi, the notorious former leader of the 14K Triad in Macau. I still marvel that I didn’t end up dead and scattered around the island.

I love reading great journalists who are also beautiful, creative long-form writers. One of my favorites of the past few years is Rebecca Skloot, who wrote “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.” From my current perch working in a fast-pased digital world, the notion of spending 10 years reporting and writing a single story blows my mind. Same for Isabel Wilkerson’s “The Warmth of Other Suns,” which I am reading now.

Word I overuse most at work: strategy. Phrase that I overuse most at home: “Because I said so!”

Readers might be surprised to learn that I hosted a Saturday night rap show on WAMO in Pittsburgh while I was in grad school. “Sky Collins and DJ Melly Mel on Club 106.” Yeah, my DJ name was Sky Collins. Don’t hate. We were number one in the time slot, and I got to hang with LL Cool J, Big Daddy Kane, and MC Lyte!

StateImpact Idaho’s New Partnership with The Idaho Statesman

A mockup of a StateImpact Idaho page in the Idaho Statesman.

Congratulations to the team at StateImpact Idaho, whose jobs and the state economy coverage has been so consistently strong that the editors at the state’s largest paper, the Idaho Statesman, approached them about a content partnership that starts next week.

StateImpact already has some great partnerships in other states; you can find StateImpact Florida stories in The Miami Herald, and StateImpact Texas work in The Texas Tribune. So we’re really pleased to add the Statesman into the fold. Under the terms of our partnership agreements, organizations may run digital pieces in the print edition of their publications in full and run excerpted teasers on their dot com sites that link back to StateImpact.

The most fruitful partnerships so far have been reporting partnerships; tackling a story with reporters from a local publication, teaming up for the entire reporting and writing process. Florida did this with The Miami Herald for its charter schools series to great response.

Happy collaborating…

Our 2012 Resolution: More Collaborations!

This morning’s Texas-Pennsylvania jointly reported broadcast piece is the perfect kickoff to what we hope will be a more common practice in 2012: collaborations with your fellow StateImpact states, or with other local news organizations. From Texas/PA:

Gas and oil well blowouts are the stuff of legend in Texas. But in Pennsylvania, a state with little modern experience with wells, a surge in drilling has some residents on edge. The thought of a geyser of fire erupting in an otherwise peaceful pasture can sound like a nightmare.

“(A blowout) scares the heck out of me,” said Skip Roupp , the Deputy Emergency Man­age­ment Director of Bradford County in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Experts told him to expect one major blowout for every thousand wells drilled. The well count in Pennsylvania is already at 3,000.

“We’re due for a major blowout at some point,” Roupp said.

And when a blowout does happen, Pennsylvania has been warning its local fire departments to, in essence, let it burn. Putting it out will be left to crews from Texas.

For some states, this will be easier than others. Texas and Pennsylvania have chosen a beat that most naturally lends itself to cross-state storytelling, since there are several examples of direct connections in their respective energy industries.

So if you’re in an education or a jobs and economy state, it may take a few more conversations before getting to a great idea, but we should aim to go that way. For the February monthly challenge (which you’ll get a head start on since January’s challenge-less), we will focus on collaboration. I’m getting all your state accounts set up so you can easily email other states’ reporters, i.e. Texas@StateImpact.org to Pennsylvania@StateImpact.org … and we’re happy to facilitate any conference calls to get y’all talkin’, too.

Be thinking about themes of coverage that might be more interesting or additive if you had the help of another state that’s on your beat. Or get even more creative and think about how you might work with a StateImpact state on a different beat. Education and jobs are inextricably linked, no?

Also, WLRN and the Miami Herald’s ongoing partnership has served us well so far, giving StateImpact pieces yet another place to run. So if your local papers or other news organizations want to start using our stuff more, give me a call and we can talk through some parameters for partnerships.

Four Quick Story Types To Help Keep Up Your Daily Momentum

Elise Hu

StateImpact Indiana reporters Ben Skirvin (left) and Kyle Stokes (right).

To follow up on my last post, StateImpact bloggers should be following a regimen of at least five posts a day, but ideally, even more than that. This is key to maintaining vibrancy and life to your site. If you are going to be the definitive destination for a public policy area in your state, there should be no shortage of analysis, explanation and information worth bringing to your readers attention, whether its originated from your reporting or someone else’s.

But I know y’all are balancing a lot of expectations at once. So don’t overthink it. Keep in mind that of your five posts a day, at least two are curated, you have the help of a broadcast partner and the original work you do can come in non-narrative formats. Here are some story types to help get you through the day:

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