Author Archives: Matt Stiles

Matt Stiles is the data editor on NPR's news applications team. He formerly served as the database reporting coordinator for NPR's StateImpact project. He previously worked as data applications editor at The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit news organization in Austin. Stiles has also covered government and politics beats at the Houston Chronicle and The Dallas Morning News.

Inside Our Latest News App: How It Works and How We Worked Together to Build It

Click the image to view the application.

A key part of the editorial mission on the StateImpact project is to focus our stories on how state policy affects people’s lives. That’s true for for our digital posts and our radio pieces, and also for our interactive news applications.

In our latest news app, Dried Out, we visualized how a historic drought consumed Texas in 2011 and how the dry conditions compared to recent memory. But we paid as much attention to the impact of the drought, which was devastating, and on state policy choices that could mitigate future droughts, which might become more common and more severe.

We sought to tell a story, in short, not just to wow readers with beautiful visuals. (Though we hope to do that, too).

We contained the interactive to one largely static page, and the result is something approaching the vanishing “double truck” newspaper layouts that contain lots of graphics, images and narrative content. We broke the story into four buckets: the history, and the drought’s progression; the impact, and its devastation; the policy choices, and their limitations; and the Texans, who we hope will tell us their stories. Continue reading