My first step in proposing and outlining a digital department for my station is to look at other stations’ experiences for ideas, inspiration and encouragement. I asked NPR Digital Services to send a survey to attendees so I can get a good picture of how stations are working online.
At the #NPRknight conference in DC this week, I was fascinated by the structures of the member stations present, and the work that they do. The more digital-savvy folks from each shop were there, so they were able to share a wealth of history and info about turning the radio “digital” — I maintain that I hate using that word to refer to new media, partly because the radio has been digital for ages.
To start, I’ll be asking all the attendees to share about their stations the info I’ve shared below.
There are more questions in the list than I’d like to send, but I need even more information and plan to do follow-ups, so I wasn’t shy about pushing for more. Besides, I expect some stations won’t answer the survey, and some who do won’t get to every point. But the point of this survey is to share as much as possible — part of this serves to measure what is attainable and with what amount of resources.
Feel free to skim the questions below. I hope you can answer my survey and help me and other member stations figure out the Internet.
- What is your station and what area/how big an area do you cover?
WLRN, covering the four counties of South Florida: Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe. We’re a medium-sized station in a big market.
- How many people are part of your station’s digital team?
I am the only official digital body in the building, but two producers and one tech-support person help out.
- What are their titles?
I’m digital editor. Mihail is… tech/web support? Elaine and Julia are radio producers.
- What are their roles?
Maria: I edit stories for the web (prose, copy, photo, video, data viz, social component, interactive graphic, design, layout), oversee social media, help reporters brainstorm “digital” (see above-noted hatred) components for stories, interact with NPRDS, produce the homepage/website, assess web design, design upcoming official “digital” department, innovate, coach legacy non-news operations (including PBS affiliate) on web practices, interact with Miami Herald (our partner) for news aggregation and print stories from our team, other duties as assigned.
Elaine: I will miss something in this list, but Elaine leads audience-engagement efforts, always producing broadcast content, spearheads civic-engagement projects, reports and produces investigative stories and personal essays for radio, helps with social media, produces two weekly shows (and their web posts), innovates, books her shows, produces web-only content from audience-generated responses to Public Insight Network queries (we have an analyst), grant finder, partnership maker, other duties as self-assigned.
Julia: ME producer, main social media producer, teaching assistant (the station teaches a class to FIU students), alumni mentor, sometimes reporter, other duties as assigned.
Mihail: Maintains back end, handles underwriting online, deals with membership and pledge drive needs, manages incoming user queries, interacts with NPRDS back-end, develops some design aspects, develops some graphics for WLRN TV (PBS affiliate), tracks metrics, maintains WLRN web assets outside primary domain.
- How long has the digital team/website existed?
WLRN.org has existed for at least two years, but it has only been a news website for a little more than a year. Before I came on board in late 2013, there was not a permanent web editor. I am the only official member of the digital team, but I introduced the idea that Mihail, Elaine and Julia should also be considered so.
- Does your station use Core Publisher?
- If your site involves something other than Core Publisher, explain how that works and how much control/responsibility you have of the back end.
We also independently host some domains (membership, stream, some other odds and ends), and currently Mihail deals with those exclusively. We have some Tumblr blogs that I manage.
- How is multimedia implemented into your stories and who produces/edits it?
We try to implement visual components when a story merits or needs them. Because of our CMS we use photos for every story, but sometimes there are slideshows or videos. We are doing more and more data visualization, from simple Google graphs to built-out interactive pages. I edit everything ultimately before posting.