Online Journalism

Mark Stencel talks about NPR and approaches to online journalism

April 12th, 2011 · Comments Off on Mark Stencel talks about NPR and approaches to online journalism

Summary: Mark Stencel, currently the managing editor for digital news at National Public Radio, discusses how NPR expanded beyond being a radio only news outlet by utilizing multimedia and social networking sites, while highlighting the trends and tribulations in online journalism today.

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National Public Radio loves traffic, and may be the only people who do if you ask Mark Stencel. While its members stations enjoy a loyal following of rush-hour listeners, the organization had a hard time getting them to follow NPR online.

Building a Web presence was not easy. NPR is a standard bearer when it comes to audio journalism, but expanding online meant incorporating skill sets from print and video broadcast.”We had to import a print organization,” Stencel said, “(we had) to figure out how to communicate in different ways…at NPR we started with great audio.”

Stencel admits that you won’t see a lot of video on its Website, and if you do, it is typically for feature stories. “Videos are time consuming and expensive…features have a longer shelf life that justify its costs.”

Where NPR has been successful is in cultivating fans through social media. “We probably have about 1.5 million Facebook fans,” Stencel said, adding that the site acts as a parallel homepage.

The social media site Twitter has added another level of interactivity for online journalists. Andy Carvin, NPR’s senior product manager for online communities, uses Twitter to report on the wave of revolts in the Middle-East. “Andy Carvin has turned the reporting process inside out,” Stencel said, and Carvin’s Twitter followers can see, tweet by tweet, Carvin checking the veracity of his sources as he reports on events.

Stencel did not shy away from talking about NPR’s mis-reporting of the Gabby Gifford’s shooting. Although NPR had two credible sources telling them that the congresswoman was shot,  what was more important was that NPR owned their mistake, he said, and apologized for it profusely.

Despite mistakes in reporting and accusations of a liberal bias, NPR maintains a loyal following of listeners by giving them something that they can’t find with news organizations. Mark Stencel will tell you what his colleague Matt Thompson articulates as NPR’s philosophy, “Don’t just cover the events, cover the implications.”

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Tech Blog – Mark Stencel

April 12th, 2011 · Comments Off on Tech Blog – Mark Stencel

Mark Stencel, managing editor for digital news at NPR, is a pioneer of the cross-platform news experience. NPR is one of the largest, most consumed news organizations in North America but the bulk of that is because of radio listeners, not an online audience. NPR struggles to get people on to its website.

One tidbit that I thought was interesting was that Stencel stressed the long-term traffic of arts pieces. A feature like Moby’s songwriting process will not have as big a drop-off in page views as, say, a news piece. Stencel’s attitude towards stories, therefore, is “What part of this story are readers/listeners coming to NPR for?”–developing a story tailored to what the audience is looking for when the reality is they probably already know the news.

NPR is more about analysis–the how and the why rather than rehashing the who and the what. He quotes co-worker Matt Thompson, “Don’t cover the events, cover the implications.”

When Stencel worked for The Washington Post, he was part of a team that designed a way for the paper’s then-new website to encourage interaction with live chats with reporters and newsworthy individuals. Then those transcripts would serve as suitable stories on their own. But now, interaction is a more dynamic process thanks to social media.

Stencel praised Andy Carvin for his innovative, Twitter-based coverage of the Libyan conflict, saying that it will change the way journalists cover breaking stories. (Professor Klein deemed Carvin “the most talked about” journalist in the current landscape.)

One of the cooler projects Stencel showed us was the way NPR covered last year’s elections. They analyzed Twitter accounts, Facebook posts and more to find out how many times candidates used certain “buzzwords.” It was an interesting experiment and really brought home the fact that many of these candidates’ social media use is pretty cookie cutter.

News happens quickly. Our job is to cover it quickly.

Sometimes, news moves too fast. Stencel pointed to the inaccurate NPR report that Rep. Giffords (D-AZ) was killed in a January shooting, which in turn led to some other news organizations reporting the story (some crediting NPR and some “confirming” it on their own). NPR apologized and corrected the story immediately, earning goodwill from readers who otherwise might have lost their trust in NPR.

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Mark Stencel

April 12th, 2011 · Comments Off on Mark Stencel

New Media, New Rules?

Navigating NPR’s Multimedia Future


Challange…. a lot of people when they get to work, they dont check out the website.

Its hard enough to write a story for tomorrow news paper… its even harder to write that same story AND write something that is happening tomorrow.

Twitter is a much faster medium to get information.

Their Tiny Desk Concerts are awesome btw.


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Guest speaker: Mark Stencel

April 12th, 2011 · Comments Off on Guest speaker: Mark Stencel

Mark Stencel is the managing editor for digital news at NPR. He worked at the Washington Post for 12 years.

NPR is a public broadcast outlet. It’s a non-profit. Non-profit is more as a tax status, the most money they make come from donations that local stations make. NPR keeps those organizations up-to-date.

NPR loves traffic! People trapped on their cars with nothing to do. Their market has grown, when other news organization are struggling.

Their problem? NPR is not as big online. People don’t go to after a long day of work. And they also don’t listen to radio at work.

The solution? Build a web presence. Created a ‘news organization’ for the website, and hired people like Stencel, with a print/newspaper background. Going mobile is also another way to expand.

Photos for a radio station? Radio is used to paint the picture. With online resources, you can see pictures. Should they publish those pictures even if they are too intense? They have just started making those editorial decisions.

They have to selectively choose if they will translate the story into video, written, or radio. They do music stories, and have experienced with animation.

“Don’t cover events, cover the implications.” Matt Thompson, Stencel’s colleague.

Interactivity is key. The radio always had a conversational tone. But how do you translate that quality to text? Interaction these days has changed. Social media changed everything. The update their facebook page carefully, and it’s a completely different audience.

For Twitter, Andy Carvin plays the host. He does live tweeting, and is one of the main people doing it. NPR has some guidelines for his reporter/hosts tweeting.

News happen quickly and our job is to report quickly.

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Tech Blog #14 (Extra Credit): Guest Speaker Mark Stencel

April 12th, 2011 · Comments Off on Tech Blog #14 (Extra Credit): Guest Speaker Mark Stencel

Mark Stencel, Managing Editor for Digital News at National Public Radio, spoke to our class today about the challenges radio faces in the media today. Stencel first started working in online journalism back in 1991, when it was called “new media.”

Check out his personal Twitter and his NPR bio.

Stencel says that NPR has done very well in the past few years because of all of the road traffic in the Washington metropolitan area. More people are able to listen to the radio in their cars while they NPR’s audience has grown tremendously, becoming one of the largest consumed news  organizations in North America. However, even though they have a huge national audience on the radio, they do not have the same audience online. Because they are mainly a radio outlet, they face competition from many other online news sources.

To set themselves apart from the rest, NPR has engaged in:

  • experimenting telling stories with animation
  • creating a “print journalism” platform and a layout for their online webpage
  • beginning to employ NPR staff photographers and videographers
  • involving their audience on the NPR Facebook page, which has over 1.5 million fans!
  • learning how to convey stories in different ways, and determining how their stories can be more compelling than their competitors

An example of NPR angling their stories in different ways would be their coverage of the Royal Wedding. Most media outlets are focuesd on the entertainment aspect of the wedding, however NPR will differentiate itself by providing more contextual and historical information for the story while still making it relevant. To do this, NPR is including  an interactive royal family tree, questions about royal scandals, a royal/political analysis, and a more of a focus on the “how” and the “why” of the story.

Regarding smart phones, Stencel says, “They are basically Tivo for radio.” They provide a way to do audio journalism for the web that works for an online audience.

Stencel says one of the best pieces of journalistic advice came from his co-worker, Matt Thompson — “Don’t cover events, cover the implications.”

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Briggs Chapter 8

April 12th, 2011 · Comments Off on Briggs Chapter 8

Telling Stories with Video

The digital video revolution: One person can now make and produce high-quality Web video with a $200 camera and laptop or desk computer instead of paying $35,000 for a camera and an expenisve editing station.

Briggs went into highlights and explinations of:

  • Capturing quick video highlights, not documentary projects.
  • Managing digital video on your computer.
  • Using common software to edit video.
  • Choosing online video hosting services.
  • Driving audience to your video.

What is the impact of digital video? Did you know, by mid 2009, Youtube reported that 20 hours of footage was being uploaded to the video-sharing site every minute?

One of the most important suggestions Briggs wrote was, “Perfection is not necessary.” Quick and less polished video often draws bigger audiences! Some newspapers changed their approach to video, and alloweing video broadcast with cell phones for real time news events.

Great ways to plan your video and go are:

You also need voice and audio and still shots before the editing process. After all that, upload your news video!

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Mark Stencel Visit

April 12th, 2011 · Comments Off on Mark Stencel Visit

Mark Stencel visted our class on April 12 2011. A highly credential individual Professor Klein tells us he’s a pioneer in news reporting. Stencel is a digital editor for NPR.

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Tech Blog #13: Guest Speaker Mark Stencel, Managing Editor for Digital News at NPR

April 12th, 2011 · Comments Off on Tech Blog #13: Guest Speaker Mark Stencel, Managing Editor for Digital News at NPR

The managing editor for digital news for National Public Radio, Mark Stencel, was with us in class today.

“It’s kind of hard to say anything you’ve been doing for 16 years ‘new,’” Mark began.

According to Mark, NPR only works nowadays because people are stuck in traffic for hours, especially in the District. People can’t do anything while stuck in traffic, so their only choice, if they’re not listening to music off of a CD or an mp3 player, is the radio.

When deciding which stories to cover, Mark states that the challenge of figuring out which stories to tell and which stories not to is the biggest challenge of all. He wonders about which part of the story the readers want to hear about most and exposes it prominently.

Students said they listen to NPR instead of their favorite other station to seek a “more professional” atmosphere.

“Cover the implications, not the events.”

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Mark Stencel- Guest Speaker

April 12th, 2011 · Comments Off on Mark Stencel- Guest Speaker

Works with NPR: National Public Radio.

Their audience has grown because more and more people are driving and getting caught in traffic. With nothing to do in the car, they tune into NPR.

Use images in radio journalism by painting it in your head. Online, we need pictures that speak for themselves.

Arts, entertainment, and feature stories use video the most. News stories have  a way of going on then off the news grid. Arts, entertainment, music stories tend to stick around and receive clicks/hits even weeks after.

“You wanna be good at everything. You wanna cover the story so that everyone comes to you. So the big questions is, what part of the story is our audience coming to view and what parts have they seen from other sources?”

Don’t cover the events, just the implications. – Matt Thompson, NPR

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Mark Stencel

April 12th, 2011 · Comments Off on Mark Stencel

Mark Stencel

Mark Stencel

Mark Stencel came to speak to my class:

  • Doesn’t use the term new media because he’s been working with it for 16 years
  • Gave us an intro on NPR.
  • Showed us his blog
  • NPR’s national audience on the radio is growing when may other outlets are losing theirs. They’re doing a lot of experimenting with trying to find the right way to tell a story to their audience.
  • But their problem is a lack of online audience. They hired a lot of print journalists to do site.
  • Social media is one way they are trying to reach out to followers
  • Ethics are important to think about now so when you’re confronted with something then you know what to do.

Tags: Comm361 · social media · Student Blog Posts