Danny Debelius / NPR
For two years the StateImpact team has used this blog to document best practices and discuss methods, to tout awards and take note of civic impact, to demystify data and plug cool tools. This post is none of that.
This is a love letter.
It is a warm hug and proud pat on the back to the reporters who made this project something to talk about. To John O’Connor, Sammy Mack and Sarah Gonzalez in Florida; Emilie Saunders and Molly Messick in Idaho; Kyle Stokes and Elle Moxley in Indiana; Amanda Loder and Emily Corwin in New Hampshire; Molly Bloom, Ida Lieszkovszky and Amy Hansen in Ohio; Joe Wertz and Logan Layden in Oklahoma; Marie Cusick, Susan Phillips, Scott Detrow and Katie Colaneri in Pennsylvania; and Terrence Henry, Mose Buchele and Dave Fehling in Texas. You’ve rocked this thing out, and it’s been such a treat to watch.
At NPR’s StateImpact team, we’ve been a tad emotional and empty nest-ish as of late. This is, after all, a bittersweet transition. StateImpact is not ending. You are carrying it on as you were meant to do at the end of our two-year collaboration. When we announced back in March that NPR would not be expanding the project, we were filled with pride and gratitude when you stepped up, each in your own way, to say, “We got this.”
As we reach the official end of the pilot this month, there is much we will miss. And we’re not just talking about Fracktinis, The Modern Hotel in Boise, and Texas and Oklahoma barbeque.
Lots of people break news, and you all have certainly broken your share. But the StateImpact crew can “break it down” like the best. From Team Ohio busting out of the gate to explain a little referendum on a collective bargaining law known as SB5, to Team Idaho decoding the personal property tax so well that state legislators were referencing their data in the statehouse, to Team New Hampshire wrestling an arcane local government insurance pool to the ground, you’ve taken the explanatory part of our mission to heart in ways that make us giddy.
Who knew that any of us could possibly know so much – or care so much – about disposal wells? Thanks to Pennsylvania, Texas and Oklahoma, we all now can be the smart kids at parties. And despite our uniform dislike for munched-on apples as story art (truly, we hate those stock photos of apples!), we love the gusto with which our education posse is slicing up the Common Core. Sure, you’re using Excel and DocumentCloud and whiteboard videos. But you’re also having fun. School budgets are now forever linked in our minds to one word: “Moo.”
Even while you’ve taken the time to learn new tools for telling stories, you’ve never let up on the accountability part of our mission. Whether it’s investigating online education companies in Florida or the use of seclusion rooms in Ohio schools, or calling out back-room deals between politicians and energy companies in Pennsylvania, you have let people in power know that you are watching.
And you’ve stayed true to our mission to make sure that your policy reporting remains ever connected to people and communities. You’ve walked up and down retail strips and door to door to find just the right people to bring home the stories of minimum-wage workers. You’ve gone beyond numbers into living rooms and classrooms to humanize big topics like 3rd grade reading tests and forgotten ones like school spanking.
It’s hard to have a fitting moment of closure when we’re spread out around the country. We needed a prom or some Breakfast Club-like senior night with “Don’t You Forget About Me,” playing in the background.
Don’t worry, we’re not going to get all Carol Burnett on you here. This is not, “So Long.” We’ll have plenty of chances to work together again. But since we’ve always taken documentation very seriously, we want this on the record:
StateImpact means a lot us. You mean a lot to us. Thank you.
Onward and Upward!
The NPR StateImpact team