NPR announced an expansion of its digital services — the 7/27 relaunch of www.NPR.org, which makes it easier to combine listening and reading, follow breaking news, comment on NPR’s work and share it and find programming from NPR Member stations — and the development of new NPR News mobile applications for smart phones.
The relaunched Web site is organized to highlight News, Arts & Life and Music, reflecting both NPR’s reporting strengths and the interests of the audience. The redesigned home page makes it easy to follow the news throughout the day, with the top stories updated regularly and featured prominently, and up-to-the-minute discussions of the day’s news easily accessible at NPR’s news blog “The Two-Way.” The site also offers a new search tool powered by Google that allows users to find their favorite program or topic faster.
The site allows for enhanced visual storytelling, offering more photos, images and graphics, and better integration of text and audio content. Audio options are presented more prominently throughout the site and allow fans to organize the various ways to listen to NPR — through their favorite NPR station, live stream or via podcast. Visitors can localize their homepage to receive a mix of local and national news feeds, streams and podcasts in a convenient location near the top of each page. With the relaunch of the site, NPR has also elected to drop fees for transcripts; the public can now access free transcripts dating back to May 2005 on most programs and news stories.
“We’re making it easier for the public to find our stations, listen to NPR programs, and follow the news throughout the day,” said Vivian Schiller, NPR’s President and CEO. “With many traditional news outlets declining, listeners are depending more on NPR and our member stations to meet their information needs on every platform. The new NPR.org and our strong push into mobile applications will take public radio to the next level of audience service.”
The mobile apps being developed will rely on NPR’s open application programming interface (Open API) that launched in July 2008. The API allows users, developers and NPR stations full access to NPR’s current and archived content to create new ways to integrate and share NPR news and programs.
NPR Member station WBUR also relaunched its site using NPR’s API. Sam Fleming, WBUR’s managing director of news and programming, noted, “I am so excited about the API system…our site is only possible because of NPR.”
The NPR News App currently under development for the iTunes App Store will offer iPhone and iPod touch users the opportunity to both read and listen to NPR’s news coverage; curate their own audio playlists; tune in and bookmark a favorite station for its live and on-demand streams; and listen to the most recent stories from NPR’s newsmagazine, talk and cultural programs. NPR serves more mobile web pages to the iPhone than to any other device.
These announcements coincide with near record on-air, online, mobile and social media audience growth over the past year with 27.5 million listeners tuning in each week to NPR programs, podcast downloads up 34% year over year, nine million unique visitors accessing NPR.org each month and the NPR Politics Twitter account reaching one million followers in June.