Network News: January 7 – 13

Sunlight Shines on State Spending in Idaho

Becky Lettenberger / StateImpact

Emilie Ritter Saunders, Molly Messick and Sadie Babits of StateImpact Idaho.

Over the past year, the StateImpact Idaho team has worked tirelessly to shine a light on their state’s lack of transparency surrounding tax credits for businesses in their state.

But they were a bit forlorn last summer after rolling out a series of reports on the lack of transparency in the state. Reporter Molly Messick covered a scathing report by PIRG that gave the state an F on transparency. Emilie Ritter Saunders followed that up with a similar national assessment and a well-reported series on  just how much tax incentive information was kept under wraps.

The stories didn’t garner huge traffic bumps or lead to much public outcry.

“But it seems to have resonated among political leaders,” Boise State Public Radio News Director Sadie Babits told us this week after the state controller announced a new transparency website.

Idaho State Controller's Office

Transparent Idaho Website

According to State Controller’s Office Chief of Staff Brandon Woolf, the site had been on the table for about six years, but the recent reports helped build momentum around the project.

The new site is meant to be a one-stop-shop for spending and revenue reports in the state. “It’s the citizens’ government, and it’s the citizens’ money,” Woolf told Emilie Ritter-Saunders.  “This will help them understand how their money is being spent.”

Although Ritter Saunders laments that everything on the site was already public prior to the launch, she admits that the site will make it all much easier for the public to access.
According to Babits, it also shows that her reporting is having a tangible impact on the way Idaho operates. And that makes us proud.
Reader Faves Last Week

Most visited stories last week, in raw numbers:

  1. New HampshireHow New Hampshire Is Helping Nanobreweries Revolutionize Craft Beer
  2. TexasTraditional Instrument Makers Struggle Under Federal Endangered Wood Rules
  3. PennsylvaniaThe Truthiness of “Promised Land,” Five Things to Know Before You Go
  4. OklahomaOklahoma Needs $2 Million To Prevent An EPA Takeover Of Its Drinking Water
  5. OklahomaThis is What the Keystone XL Pipeline Looks Like 

Congratulations to StateImpact New Hampshire for punching way above its weight last week with an off-beat story on a lesser-known initiative in that state bolstering a particular type of small businesses with a very loyal clientele.

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. New HampshireHow New Hampshire Is Helping Nanobreweries Revolutionize Craft Beer
  2. IdahoWho Are Idaho’s Legislators? A Demographic Breakdown Of The 2013 Legislature
  3. OklahomaOklahoma Needs $2 Million To Prevent An EPA Takeover Of Its Drinking Water
  4. PennsylvaniaThe Truthiness of “Promised Land,” Five Things to Know Before You Go
  5. TexasTraditional Instrument Makers Struggle Under Federal Endangered Wood Rules
  6. Indiana: Tony Bennett: ‘If We Did This Job That Way, It Would Likely Lead To A Backlash’ 
  7. Florida: How Teachers Are Creating New Lessons For Common Core State Standards
  8. Ohio: 2011-12 Ohio School District Report Cards

Traffic Sources (according to Google Analytics):

  • 46% Search Engines (top terms for this week: fracking; is bigfoot real; keystone pipeline; natural gas; algae biofuel)
  • 20% Referral (NPR.org, Google, Google News, Texas Tribune, Pipeline Post-Gazette –in that order this week–plus station websites and other partners and sites)
  • 17% Dark social (emails, listservs, instant messaging, etc.)
  • 13% Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Reddit –in that order this week)
  • 1% Direct (bookmarks and direct visits to home pages)

Around the Network

  • After three years leading the newsroom at WUSF, with about half of that time spent developing

    StateImpact

    Scott Finn of StateImpact FL

    our rocking StateImpact team in Florida, our colleague Scott Finn is headed home to become executive director of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, where he’ll get a chance to apply the deft leadership skills he’s honed in Florida to a new set of challenges and opportunities. The whole crew in Florida and DC will miss him terribly, but we’re cheering him on. The folks in West Virginia nabbed a good one. Scott’s last day at WUSF will be January 31. Please join us in wishing him all the very best!

Training Opportunity This Week:

Webinar: Five Local Economic Stories to Jump on Now 

How is what’s happening in Washington likely to affect people’s pocketbooks in your state and local community? Marilyn Geewax, senior business editor at NPR, shares her leads in this two-day, two-hour webinar. The event is sponsored by Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism and NPR and will take place on Jan. 15 and 16 at noon or 4 p.m. EST. The webinar lasts for one hour each day and is free, although registration is required.

Onward and Upward,

Chris Swope, Jessica Pupovac, Ken Rudin & Becky Lettenberger

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