Network News: July 30 – August 5

In the Spotlight:

Scott Detrow of StateImpact Pennsylvania proved once again this week that while high-tech storytelling tools can help make a story richer, more accessible and more enticing for readers, they can never replace good, ol’ fashioned shoe-leather reporting.

Scott Detrow / StateImpact Pennsylvania

A Bradford Co., Pa., resident lights a methane gas sample on fire.

For more than a year, talking heads and industry leaders have been maintaining that methane migration in the course of natural gas drilling is a thing of the past. “Prob­lem iden­ti­fied. Prob­lem solved,” Chesa­peake Energy CEO Aubrey McClen­don declared last year.

But, after reporting in June on a particularly conspicuous leak (a.k.a. geyser), Detrow opted to continue following the story where it led. He shot video of a second, unreported leak nearby, spent some time with the affected family and made some additional calls and visits, eventually publishing a comprehensive, authoritative report on the lingering problem.

The piece was featured in ProPublica’s Muckreads and a news aggregation site for investors (which brought many new eyes to the site). It was also linked to by the New York Times’ Dot Earth blog.

Well played, Mr. Detrow!

Last Week’s Reader Faves

Most visited stories last week, in raw numbers:

  1. Pennsylvania: In Northeast Pennsylvania, Methane Migration Means Flammable Puddles And 30-Foot Geysers
  2. Ohio: Locked Away: How Ohio Schools Misuse Seclusion Rooms       
  3. Florida: How Schools Are Coping With A Communications Obsession
  4. Florida: Florida Education Commissioner Submits Resignation
  5. Indiana: Interactive Map: Who’s Giving Money In The Campaign For State Superintendent

Kyle Stokes‘ map on campaign contributions was a relatively quick turn-around yet reported out enough to be more than just a data dump. The post is an interesting read and a good example of  public service journalism. It offers voters insight into the makeup of Indiana schools chief Tony Bennett’s supporters and is sure to be an ongoing resource to voters. Well done, Kyle.

Most visited content on each site, in order of popularity:

What does that mean? Well, we took the top post from each of your states, according to traffic. We adjusted those figures to reflect each state’s population and then ordered the results.

  1. Pennsylvania: In Northeast Pennsylvania, Methane Migration Means Flammable Puddles And 30-Foot Geysers
  2. OhioLocked Away: How Ohio Schools Misuse Seclusion Rooms
  3. Idaho: Idaho-Based Scentsy Continues To Grow, Adds New Brand
  4. New Hampshire: Aug. 1 Brings More Preventive Care For Women
  5. Oklahoma: The Human Toll of a Drilling Boom in Oklahoma
  6. IndianaInteractive Map: Who’s Giving Money In The Campaign For State Superintendent
  7. FloridaHow Schools Are Coping With A Communications Obsession
  8. Texas: Texas PUC Waits for Power Companies that Dare Raise Prices

Around the Network

Last week:

  • Sarah Gonzalez represented StateImpact last week at the quadrennial UNITY conference in Las Vegas. Besides making lots of new connections, she offered the following take-away:

I attended a lot of the multimedia reporting workshops and here is my big take-away: If at the end of a radio story, the host says, “For more, go to StateImpact XX” … You better give them more! A web version of a radio piece is not really “more.” And even if the web piece is longer, more in-depth and with more quotes and data, readers will read the first two graphs, decide its the exact same thing they heard on the radio, and they probably wont come back to site the next time they hear, “For more, go to …”

So give them more. And put it right at the top. A slide show, a map or chart. Put it at the top, not the middle or at the bottom, so they can immediately see that you are giving them some new information. It’ll help us turn our radio audiences into a radio and online audience.

This week:

  • On Sunday, Ohio’s Molly Bloom and Ida Ida Lieszkovszky, along with their partner Jennifer Smith Richards at the Columbus Dispatch, launched an in-depth series investigating the use–and misuse–of seclusion in Ohio schools. We’ll have more on that next week. In the meantime, we highly suggest you check it out and share the love.
  • I (Jessica) will be moving this weekend and won’t be back in the office until Tuesday, so look for your Network News then. (I’m warning you in advance so that you can prepare yourselves emotionally.)

Thanks, everyone, for all of the great work this week. Keep it up.

Your trusty editorial team,

Chris Swope, Jessica Pupovac, Ken Rudin & Becky Lettenberger

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