StateImpact Network News: January 28 – February 3

Spotlight

What do earthquakes in Oklahoma and Texas have in common with new teaching standards in Florida, Indiana and Ohio? They’re both topics about which people are looking for reliable information on their own timetables, not ours. Read our ideas for delivering News When People Need It.

Around the Network

  • Molly Messick and StateImpact Idaho, with help from Danny DeBelius at NPR, produced an interactive quiz to help taxpayers understand the ins and outs of the state’s complicated “business personal property tax.”
  • Molly Bloom and Ida Lieszkovszky of StateImpact Ohio used our new ScribbleLive platform to live-blog the long-awaited announcement by Ohio Gov. John Kasich outlining how he believes schools should be financed. Continue reading

News When People Need It

Much of our reporting is designed to be consumed immediately — either heard over the air, read at the top of our sites or shared in the moment through social media.

But more than half of our site traffic comes from search engines, and few of users’ search terms are related to traditional spot news. Last week, only one of the five top terms was based on breaking news: is bigfoot real; fracking; keystone pipeline; earthquake; aubrey mcclendon.

“Earthquake” is a great example. Every few weeks there’s a small earthquake in Texas. Not strong enough to cause damage, but enough to send people to Google to find out what’s going on.

The number of earthquakes in Oklahoma has risen dramatically in recent years.

The number of earthquakes in Oklahoma has risen dramatically in recent years.

Now, a 2.7 magnitude earthquake isn’t something the media would normally give a lot of attention to. But there is a story to tell: Some experts believe an increase in seismic activity in certain areas  is related to how drilling waste is disposed of underground, and waste disposal policy is a natural StateImpact story. StateImpact Texas has had an earthquake topic page for months that has generated ongoing traffic.

Continue reading

Network News: January 21 – 27

States Collaborate to Explain New Education Standards

Florida, Indiana and Ohio are among the 45 states that are implementing new national standards for K-12 academics, a process that will require new curricula, textbooks and tests. So, the “Common Core” was a natural topic for the StateImpact education states to focus on for 2013. And just as the standards themselves are a national-state partnership, our project’s six education reporters are collaborating with each other and the team at NPR to explain how the new policies will affect students, parents and educators.

Their first joint project is called “Core Questions,” an effort to engage these groups in our coverage by inviting them to send us their questions about the Common Core. The reporters have created Core Questions topic pages on StateImpact Florida, StateImpact Indiana and StateImpact Ohio, and are inviting questions through their sites’ Facebook pages and Twitter feeds. They’ll share the work of answering some questions to avoid duplicating effort. Continue reading

Network News: January 14 – 20

WHYY hosts StateImpact community event

WHYY StateImpact event

Jennifer Wheeler/WHYY

Chris Satullo takes questions from the audience at the WHYY StateImpact event with Susan Phillips and Scott Detrow.

About 150 people attended a program last Tuesday at WHYY in Philadelphia on StateImpact Pennsylvania’s reporting on natural gas drilling.

Reporters Scott Detrow and Susan Phillips played audio clips from some of their best stories and discussed what they learned while working on them. They also discussed the challenges of covering this beat, such as the difficulty in getting information from gas drillers and state regulators. The program was moderated by Chris Satullo, WHYY’s executive director of news and civic dialogue. He started with an overview of the StateImpact program and its mission, and then kept the program moving with questions from the audience. A reception for about 30 station donors was held just before the StateImpact event.

Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Network News: December 17 – January 7

More Presents for You!

Guess what, team? Good news! While you were away shoveling snow, opening gifts and eating cookies, little elves stayed busy adding all sorts of new tools to your Reporter’s Toolbox, including (but not limited to):

Have fun brushing up on these, and other tools and tricks, at your leisure. And stay tuned for even more additions, coming soon!

Continue reading

Network News: December 3 – 16

StateImpact Pennsylvania Wins duPont

The Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award committee this morning announced that StateImpact Pennsylvania is among its 2013 awardees. In its announcement, the duPont committee said the team’s coverage over the past year has “showed the significant impact of natural gas fracking on Pennsylvania residents, and is an important model for reporting on local issues.” 

“Reporters Susan Phillips and Scott Detrow covered the public policy, fiscal and environmental impact of the state’s booming energy economy, with a focus on Marcellus Shale drilling,” the announcement reads. “Their broadcast reports were heard on public radio stations across Pennsylvania and on a dedicated web site featuring multimedia, data-driven stories. Their work revealed previously unreported aspects of a new gas drilling law, including a provision that would require health professionals to sign confidentiality agreements in order to get access to chemical exposure information and developments in the state’s efforts to establish a natural gas impact fee.”

The awards ceremony will take place in New York in January. Continue reading

Network News: November 26 – December 2

A Little Help From Your Friends (and Followers)

Here at StateImpact, we’re constantly seeking out new ways to get ahead of the curve and  adapt to the ever-changing ways that people are receiving and interacting with the news. That’s why, in recent weeks, we’ve discussed adapting to a sideways world. We’ve worked with all of our reporters to identify our core audiences so that we can find out where the conversations are taking place and building meaningful engagement.

A key part of that is using social media wisely—as a promotional tool, yes–but also as a reporting and engagement tool. (And if you don’t believe us, check out this piece by senior editor Alexis Madigral at the Atlantic.)

Last week’s webinar (now available in our Reporter’s Toolbox!) breaks down several ready-to-use ways to do just that. Check it, take some of these tips out for a test drive out and let us know how it works for you and your blog or station.

For more resources, including the plain-ol’ slideshow without all of the chitchat, go to the Toolbox post.
Continue reading

Network News: November 19 – 25

Bloom Goes Public With Her Twitter Roster

StateImpact Ohio‘s Molly Bloom this week shared a list that she has been carefully curating for months, if not years–her roster of Ohio educators who tweet.

Smooth move, Bloom.

StateImpact Ohio

Molly Bloom

The post was a hit. In terms of traffic, it nipped at the heels of that state’s most highly-visited post (on football, mind you) all week long.

It was also a success in terms of relationship building. The post inspired several Ohioans to shoot back with suggested additions, thus expanding Bloom’s realm of contacts and sources. (She had enough to fill a second post, actually.) It also earned a mention on the Ohio Department of Education’s official weekly newsletter, putting the project on the radar of several new readers and listeners in our core communities.

Molly says she didn’t come up with the idea on her own.

“It was inspired partly by a post Kyle Stokes [of StateImpact Indiana] did earlier this year and partly by the fact that I felt like I was seeing more and more Ohio teachers, principals, et cetera on Twitter,” she tells us. “It seemed like a good time to tap into that.”

We look forward to hearing more from Ms. Bloom and other Twitter superstars this week during our upcoming StateImpact Twitter webinar. Be sure to mark your calendars and call in from 2 to 3 EST this Friday, November 30. Reporters and news directors, check your inbox for more details. And if anyone else is interested in joining us, please drop us a line.  Continue reading

Network News: November 12 – 18

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