StateImpact Reporters’ Toolbox: Where to Start?


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StateImpact Policies and Protocol:

What are These Things Called “Topic Pages”?

Building Your Posts and Adding Fun Stuff:

Here is a map of some of the wonderful features you can add to your site. Click on any highlighted feature to learn how to add that feature to a post.  Greatest hits include:

So, You Want To Make An Explainer Video?

Explainer videos are great at illustrating complicated policy issues, sometimes. Over the past two years we have learned several tips for making videos that delight and inform our audiences. It starts with deciding if a video is right for you. Let this handy guide show you the way:

Check out a few examples of successfully videos below and read tips from your StateImpact colleagues.

StateImpact Ohio’s, “A Video Guide to Ohio’s New Way of Evaluating Teachers

Tips from Molly Bloom:

  • The whole process of polishing a script made it a lot better. Realize you’re writing for a different medium and make good use of that.
  • The length was a bit too long, people started to get distracted around the two-minute mark.
  • Showing it to lots of people and seeing what people didn’t understand was really helpful.

StateImpact Florida’s, “A Parent’s Guide To How The New Common Core Tests Are Different From FCAT

Tips from John O’Connor:

  • We directed the video toward a specific group, so we knew who we were talking to and we worked hard to address it to that audience.
  • Don’t try to make videos out of things that don’t work as video.
  • Have someone involved in the project who has done this before to advise the project.

StateImpact Oklahoma’s, “How Disposal Wells Might Cause Earthquakes”

Tips from Joe Wertz:

  • Simple stuff works the best.
  • It takes a lot of writing to making something complicated easy to understand.
  • Think ahead of time about what exactly the compelling thing is that you can explain and can’t show and what you can show but can’t explain.

Create Your Favorite StateImpact Features in Core Publisher

NPR Digital Services has created an excellent resource for reporters who are new to Core Publisher, replete with a downloadable manual. There are a few things, though, that we’ve grown accustomed to created on our WordPress StateImpact sites that are not yet included in that documentation.

Below are some of our recommendations for how you can duplicate some of those features (including maps, charts and graphs, tables, document viewers, images, topic pages, pages, featured posts) on your station site.

MAPS

  • Google Fusion Maps can be embedded as iframes and include the new built-in legend feature. This works well in both Core Publisher posts and pages.

Here is some guidance to help you through that process.

CHARTS AND GRAPHS

  • Google Spreadsheets will likely be the best option, even though images will have to be created and uploaded as full-screen images OR as iframes. It isn’t optimal, but it work.

Toolbox Instructions from Emilie Ritter Saunders on embedding them (and instructions from Yan Lu on creating charts and graphs, if you’re not too comfortable with that part).

  • For ready-made Google charts with official data, like this, the iFrame embed is a good option and easy to update.

  • Also, if you are going the iframe route,know that you can modify the iframe width and/or height to 100%. To do this, simply add 100% (including the percent sign) into the embed code, overriding the pixel measurements.

TABLES

  • Tables can easily be displayed in Core Publisher by using the iframe publishing option in Google Fusion Tables. However, filterable tables are not an option, unfortunately. Continue reading

Using The NPR API To Share Your Work

We’re implementing a new WordPress plugin to “ingest” StateImpact posts into the NPR API and, thus, your stations’ sites.

Most of our states have been pushing posts to the API since launch. But the plugin that we’d been using had limited functionality. Kevin Moylan and others at NPR Digital Services have been working on developing a new plugin that works much better. And, now, it is ready to launch.

Here’s what you can expect to transfer nicely from WordPress to Core Publisher using v1.5 of the plugin:

  • Regular posts (including bylines and excerpts)
  • Inline Images (including captions and credits). All images in the post will be sent to the API regardless of the “can distribute” flag in the WordPress Media Library. 
  • Audio (see instructions below)
  • Video embeds (and other iFrames that can be inserted into posts)

Features that won’t transfer nicely (many of which you can still recreate manually in Core Publisher by following these instructions) include:

Google Fusion Maps with Joe Wertz

StateImpact Oklahoma’s Joe Wertz, mapping wizard, shows us how to create an interactive map using Google Fusion Maps and some raw data in this quick and simple tutorial.

Here is the data that you can use, if you’d like to try this at home.

(Don’t be alarmed! The audio doesn’t kick in until about ten seconds in.)

Creating a Legend

Of special note, around minute 31 (31:00), Joe walks us through creating a legend for your map. To do that (in the new and improved version):

  1. In the map view, click on the little arrow on top of the “Map of…” tab and navigate down to “change map styles.
  2. Whether you are dealing with points or polygons, make sure that your bucket ranges are exactly as you’d like them to appear in your legend.
  3. Click on “automatic legend” (your last option on the list to the left).
  4. Create a title for your legend.
  5. Decide where you’d like your legend to appear (typically in the bottom right-hand corner,  unless your map makes a different corner preferable).
  6. Hit “Save.”

Embedding an Iframe Into Your Site

At minute 32 (32:35), Joe shows us how to embed an iframe with your map and legend right into your site.

  1. Click on Share (in the upper right-hand corner) and publish it to the web. You’ll see your current sharing settings listed towards the top. If it doesn’t say “Public” hit the blue “Change” and select “Public on the web.” Continue reading

Nuts and Bolts: Embed Charts and Tables in WordPress and Core Publisher

After you get your chart or table into Google Drive and formatted the way you’d like to, follow these steps, kindly collected by data viz maven Emilie Ritter Saunders, to get it into your post:

Embedding Charts in WordPress

  1. Make your chart public to the web: Share —-> Change “public on the web”
  2. Publish your table: Click the arrow dropdown (upper right corner of the chart) —-> Select a chart1publish format “Image.”
  3. Copy that “Image” code and paste it into the HTML side of your WordPress editor.

Embedding Tables in WordPress

  1. Make your table public to the web: Share —-> Change “public on the web”
  2. Publish your table: File —-> Publish to the web —-> Click Publish or Republish Now
  3. Copy the URL.
  4. Paste the URL into the spreadsheet function in WordPress, “Google Spreadsheet Key.” Continue reading

Summer Camp: Excel Formulas with Kyle Stokes

In this 28-minute webinar, StateImpact Indiana reporter Kyle Stokes walks you through some Excel basics, including:

  • using cell references!
  • copying formulas down a column!
  • calculating sum and difference!
  • and calculating rate of change!

To follow along, download the data here.

And for quick reference, here is a sampling of some of our favorite Excel formulas for journalists, below: Continue reading

Summer Camp: Excel Basics with Molly Bloom

Let StateImpact Reporter Molly Bloom lead  you through some basics of using Excel, including: 
  • Importing data from txt and csv files!
  • Sorting and filtering data!
  • and Creating easy and super-powerful pivot tables for data analysis and organization!

To experiment with the files used in this video:
  1. Report Card data: Go here and click on File –> Download as –> Microsoft Excel.
  2. Enrollment data is here.
  3. School levy data is here