NPR gets $1.5 million digital grant


NPR is expanding its training initiatives to boost the production of digital content by NPR member stations and in the NPR newsroom. The initiative to increase the use of digital tools in public radio newsrooms is being funded by a new $1.5 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.   

“NPR is a great news organization and has become an essential part of American democracy. We want to support their embrace of the Internet,” said Alberto Ibargüen, President and CEO of Knight Foundation. “They will solidify their lead if they continue to expand their use of digital and social media to effectively engage listeners and users.”

Building on successful training piloted by NPR a few years ago, the grant provides for the development of extensive training for more than 70 local public radio stations. Topics include strategies to build multimedia news operations, writing for the web, photography and the role of social media in newsgathering. NPR says these resources will dramatically improve the ability of participating stations to broaden and deepen their news production and better serve both new and existing audiences. The grant will also fund digital coaches for NPR journalists.

“NPR is a major force in media today, helping more than 34 million people make sense of what is going on in the world,” said Gary E. Knell, President & CEO of NPR. “These digital training resources will ensure that NPR and hundreds of member stations nationwide continue to pioneer the use of new technologies to connect with new and existing audiences.” 

The $1.5 million grant builds upon the successes of a previous Knight grant awarded in 2007, which trained hundreds of NPR journalists in the use of digital platforms and reporting techniques. According to an independent analysis by TCC Group for the Knight Foundation, the initial grant of $1.5 million in 2007 resulted in “a positive shift in individual and institutional attitudes toward digital news.” In all, Knight Foundation has invested $5.4 million in NPR since 1992.

The new digital training project will span a two-year period and will be led by Kinsey Wilson, NPR senior vice president and general manager of digital media. 

“Public radio is an essential source of news and produces some of the most compelling journalism available today, whether for broadcast, web or mobile distribution,” said Wilson.  “Our goal is to ensure that our journalists are in a position to serve their listeners and readers, however they get their news.”

RBR-TVBR observation: Whether commercial or public media, there’s really no future for anyone who sees themselves as a single-platform journalist. Training radio reporters (and TV reporters for that matter) in the use of digital platforms and reporting techniques isn’t just a good idea – it’s an essential one.