collaboration

NPR Wants 'NATO For Public Radio' in New Regional Hubs

Jun 25, 2017
PRNDI's Twitter

At the PRNDI Conference on Friday, NPR leaders outlined a new effort to collaborate with member stations through regional hubs. They said the initiative would better synthesize local member station coverage within regions, and improve the network's ability to cover stories nationwide.

NPR's Collaborative Coverage Senior Editor Bruce Auster, who's heading the initiative, held a breakout session entitled Imagining a Collaborative Journalism Network.

"We want this to be like NATO  for public radio," he said. 

NPR/Station Collaborations Show Progress

Jun 25, 2016

Since he became NPR’s senior vice president for news last year, Michael Oreskes has prioritized increasing collaborations between the network and member stations.

At the 2016 PRNDI conference in St. Louis, he could cite the network’s coverage of Orlando as an example of what’s possible when NPR and member stations work together.

“The more you plan ahead, the more you have in the moment,” he said at Saturday morning’s session.

Editorial units at NPR and member stations are being linked in NPR's new coverage circle.
Collaborative Coverage Project / NPR

Members of NPR’s Collaborative Coverage Project began their session at that PRNDI conference in Salt Lake, June 27, with a simple concept: “collaboration is tricky, but we all want this to work.”

The project, in progress for about a year, has a mission of transforming NPR and member station newsrooms into a true network. Vickie Walton James, NPR National Desk Editor, said the goal is to “move faster, dig deeper, and reflect the fabric of America.”

Strength in Numbers

Jun 26, 2015
Caroline/Flickr

There are approximately 1,800 journalists working throughout the NPR network. That's "strength in numbers," says NPR's new Senior VP of News Mike Oreskes. Speaking to the PRNDI conference over lunch on Friday, June 26, along with NPR President and CEO Jarl Mohn, Oreskes emphasized the need for local stations and NPR to work together to strengthen their connections and, in turn, build a more powerful network.

Near-live mid-day newscasts are fed from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. from Louisville Public Media and air on four of the five member-stations that make up the Kentucky Public Radio Network.

Todd Mundt (LPM) has led the workflow changes for his newscast unit.

“Until we have an interconnect for live transmission, we are producing and recording the newscasts each hour around 20-30 minutes before broadcast," said Mundt.  “The Master Control system automatically grabs the two-minute audio file and forwards it to FTP servers, making it available to WKYU, WEKU and WKMS several minutes before broadcast.”

Each station can originate the newscasts as a backup to LPM, additionally any station can opt out of a newscast in a breaking news situation. 

KETR-FM is a university licensee in Commerce, TX located in Hunt County about 65 miles northeast of Dallas. The 100,000-watt station serves eight counties but has just one full-time news reporter and host. So the station has recruited staffers at nearby newspapers to help fill out local newscasts. 

“Our staff is short,” said KETR General Manager Jerrod Knight. “Having active newsroom participants with a home base in the various communities we serve is one of the best ways, and at times, the only way, to get at that information.”

The relationship between NPR news and member station newsrooms took center stage at the recent PRNDI conference in Washington, D.C. During their session members of the “Collaborative Coverage Project” team assembled by NPR — Kelley Griffin of Colorado Public Radio, John Dankosky of WNPR, Scott Finn of West Virginia Public Radio, and Vickie Walton-James of NPR — shared some of the ideas that have emerged since the project got going in March of this year. 

A “True Network” 

In light of the “Collaborative Coverage Project” recently launched by NPR, PRNDI collected responses to a survey April 7-11, 2014 asking its membership for their ideas about collaboration. The survey went out to 95 recipients and 20 responded, representing newsrooms at public radio stations across the country.         

More than half of the respondents rated increased collaboration as needed or very needed (4 or 5 on the 5-point scale). The responses were equally distributed among small, medium, and large stations (according to PRNDI's definitions). But small and medium stations were much more likely to rate increased collaboration as needed or very needed.

Creatively Compensating a Collaboration

Jun 8, 2012
Charles Compton

In a recent collaboration between Louisville Public Media, public radio’s Innovation Trail and WEKU, three-fifths of the stories were done by freelancers.  The series examined the impacts of technological advances on the horse racing industry, and was shared, at no cost, with public radio stations in eight states.  Eventually, portions of the series were also picked by “Here and Now,” WNYC and NPR.  As a journalistic collaboration, it was great success, but, was it a success for our freelancers?

All three are dedicated journalists who are pleased their stories reached a wide audience.  They are also people who need to eat.  Each was paid a standard fee by WEKU and they were free to sell their content to other buyers.  However, one could argue they had undercut themselves.  Why should a news director buy a cow when she can get the milk for free?