Approaching Year Three, NPR Education Contemplates Changes

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If you haven’t already taken NPR’s Education Survey, click the link and do it now — if not to tell NPR what you think of the education coverage they’re providing for the chance to get a peek into how NPR thinks about how it’s doing this past year and a half — and what it might do next.

Like everyone else, it seems, the folks at NPR are obsessed with their numbers: 

“At NPR Ed we spend a lot of time thinking about metrics,” explains the survey introduction. “In the world of digital journalism, the analytics we use include pageviews, Facebook likes (or now, “Hahas” or “Wows”), comments, and retweets.”

A recent article on BuzzFeed’s rise noted that where pageviews and visits used to be a primary metric, shares within and among social media platforms are increasingly important. In an interview last fall, the Gates Foundation program officer who oversaw the grant to NPR talked about NPR Ed’s Facebook page as a particular success. 

Like everyone else, NPR Ed is curious about who we are and what stands out qualitatively in their work — what makes their coverage different or memorable:

“We really want to know: What’s your favorite NPR Ed story? Have you ever used NPR content in the classroom? What stories are you interested in? More K-12, or higher ed? What ​should we be covering? Also, who ARE you? Are you a teacher, a student, a parent, or is your name Ed and you thought this page was hyper-personalized content?”

You may have your own favorites. For me, Cory Turner taking a practice Common Core test a couple of springs ago was a highlight of what NPR education has been able to do in terms of making education coverage more human and accessible. His story about pasta bridge-making was memorable, too, for its attention to detail. The big package on grad rates made it past dutiful and comprehensive into some interesting areas, too. Claudio Sanchez reporting on his own (brief) experiences as a teacher was lovely and honest (and quite a departure for Sanchez). 

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As for what they should do next, I have the feeling they’re looking at a podcast of some kind, which makes sense given all the sound they have and how popular podcasts are. Personally, I’d prefer something video-related, something along the lines of what AJ+ has been doing, or something full of interactives, like BuzzFeed meets ProPublica.

But that’s just me. I’ve asked them for a preview of the survey responses and what’s coming next, and will report back whenever I get an update. 

Related posts: NPR Education Reporter Bravely Slams BossesNo More On-Air Plugs For Staff BooksAs NPR’s Cory Turner Shows, The Smallest Details Make All The Difference ; NPR’s “Grad Rates” Shows Us How Well Education ….

Alexander Russo

Alexander Russo is a freelance education writer who has created several long-running blogs such as the national news site This Week In Education, District 299 (about Chicago schools), and LA School Report. He can be reached on Twitter at @alexanderrusso, on Facebook, or directly at alexanderrusso@gmail.com.