Network News: August 13-19

In the Spotlight: Guest Blogging Pays off in Florida

StateImpact Florida was the first state to take our new guest blogging tools, developed last month, for a spin. In their recent series, “The Secret Lives of Students,” the Florida team accepted submissions from area students about issues they selected in a summer learning program. Reporter Sarah Gonzalez describes the team’s experiences with their young guest bloggers below.

From Sarah Gonzalez:

Sarah Gonzalez /StateImpact Florida

Over the summer break, StateImpact Florida partnered up with Breakthrough Miami, which offers summer school classes to students considered “at risk.” We asked the elementary, middle and high school students to write about any school topic they wanted to, as either a short news article or an opinion piece. 

We agreed that StateImpact Florida would edit the articles, but not the opinion pieces. Since we were often hearing from elementary-aged children, we decided not to correct any spelling or grammar. The posts really remained in their voices. We did, however, reserve the right not to post blogs, and to make cuts if something they wrote was factually incorrect about Florida education. 

I made contacts with dozens of students. Some of the older ones liked StateImpact on Facebook and followed us on Twitter.

What we learned:

1. Students all want to write about the same thing: School lunches and school cliques. So, we had a few similar posts. If we ran the project any longer, we may have run out of fresh blog concepts. In the future we might assign topics to the students to help generate diverse content.

2. No one meets their deadlines, so collect a couple submissions before you launch a blogging project. I waited until I had two weeks of blog posts before we announced the project on StateImpact. Good thing we did, too.

~Sarah

If anyone is interested in inviting contributors onto your site, please do get in touch so that we can discuss protocol and any other considerations. We are ready when you are!

Last Week’s Reader Faves

Most visited stories last week, in raw numbers:

  1. Texas:  Red Tide Has Likely Killed a Million Fish in Galveston
  2. Texas:  Why Dead Fish Are Washing Up on the Beaches of Galveston 
  3. Texas:  Fracking’s Link to Smog Worries Some Texas Cities 
  4. Texas:  What’s Texas Losing in its War on the EPA? 
  5. OhioWhat Picking Paul Ryan as VP Could Mean for Education

Dave Fehling / StateImpact Texas

The Lone Star State dominated this week in terms of overall page views. Of particular note was the staying power of Dave Fehling‘s piece on the link between hydraulic fracturing and smog, which made it into the top five stories for the second week in a row. The story explores an unexpected side effect of energy and environmental policy and what the state of Texas is–and isn’t–doing to address it. Dave took a relatively unexplored aspect of a national trend, researched and reported it out the old fashioned way and added video and images to make an all-around stellar piece that continues to draw attention. Nice work, Dave.

 

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. Idaho: How Traditional Japanese Homebuilding Reversed The Fortunes Of One Idaho Sawmill
  2. Texas: Red Tide Has Likely Killed a Million Fish in Galveston
  3. Oklahoma:  Why Oklahoma’s Oil Boom Has Forced Dairy Queen to Offer Sign-On Bonuses
  4. Ohio: What Picking Paul Ryan as VP Could Mean for Education
  5. Indiana: What A Coal Mining Program Says About The Future Of Correctional Education
  6. New Hampshire: Pension Privatization Update: House Committee Scopes Out Financial Services Firms
  7. Pennsylvania: Snakes On A Drilling Rig
  8. Florida: DREAM Act (topic page)

Traffic Sources:

Search engine traffic was up this week, likely, in part, due to our national buzz.

52%

33%

15%

1%

Search engines
Referral/
Social media
Direct
Email
Top search terms:

  • galveston dead fish
  • florida DREAM Act application
  • ohio school report cards 2012
  • paul ryan pell grants
Top referrers:

  • npr.org
  • Bing
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo
  • Redditt
  • Twitter
Includes people who type in the URL or use a bookmark. Also includes referrals from mobile apps (eg Facebook iPhone app). Directed through email newsletters, etc.

Around the Network

Last week:

  • Jessica Pupovac participated in a two-day training in basic HTML, CSS and Javascript, Code With Me, where our very own Danny DeBelius mentored her and other newbies. The goal is for her to be better positioned to help you all out with basic formatting issues that might arise on our platform, so feel free to put her new skills to the test.

This week:

  • StateImpact Indiana‘s Kyle Stokes will be airing his hour-long back-to-school documentary tonight on public radio stations across Indiana.
  • StateImpact Pennsylvania’s Scott Detrow and Becky Lettenberger hit the road today, headed for northern Pennsylvania, where they will be exploring the question of how a gas boom effects a small town and the people in it.
  • Everyone is invited to sign up for a free webinar this Wednesday on “how to engage your community in civic and civil conversations leading up to the election.” Representatives from radio stations around the country will be sharing their experiences and tactics in this hour-long online discussion.
  • Thanks, everyone, for all of your great work this past week. Until next week –

Your editorial team,

Chris Swope, Jessica Pupovac, Ken Rudin & Becky Lettenberger

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