Lessons From Launching The Texas Tribune and NPR StateImpact

PHILADELPHIA — I’m in Philly today and tomorrow to spend time with public radio news directors and the web staff at WHYY (which you may know as the station home of Terry Gross’ Fresh Air). We’re talking about digital strategy, how to improve their existing news site, Newsworks, and where public media is going.

Organizers were interested in how I spent the last three years of my life: launching a pair of digital news brands. Granted, this is not my trained area of expertise. My journalism experience is largely in broadcast television news, i.e. “Take a look at this downed tree in the driveway.” But because of great luck or horrible misfortune (depending on how you look at it), I was somehow involved with two launches of digital news brands between 2009 and 2011.

First, it was the startup news organization The Texas Tribune, and then in 2011, I was drafted by NPR to work as the digital editorial coordinator of its new state government reporting network, StateImpact. This called for hiring, training and editing 17 reporters as well as building out eight sites on a WordPress-powered multisite platform for stations around the country.

I boiled down some of the key things I learned for the presentation. The slides are below:


Links from the Presentation

News Erupts, and So Does a Web Debut The New York Times, David Carr

For The Texas Tribune, “Events Are Journalism” Nieman Journalism Lab, Andrew Phelps

Texas Tribune Databases Drive Majority of Site’s Traffic Poynter, Mallory Tenore

StateImpact Blog, NPR, Elise Hu, Matt Stiles, Danny DeBelius, Becky Lettenberger