NPR adds social components, stand-alone site to Local Stories Project

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NPR Digital Services is expanding its Local Stories Project initiative, launching a stand-alone website and social media presence to highlight digital-friendly stories from public radio stations.

A Tumblr site of curated links to stories launched Wednesday, and NPRDS has also started a Twitter feed for the project, which began in 2011 as a geotargeting experiment on NPR’s Facebook page.

Since starting with one participating station, the project has grown to include 36 stations in 32 states, each with a primary editor with whom NPRDS coordinates when selecting stories to share. Chicago’s WBEZ, Colorado Public Radio and WUNC in North Carolina are the latest stations to join.

When NPRDS passed 30 participating stations in 2013, “we realized at that point we had a really good system in place for working with stations to surface really interesting local stories that are focused on the local community . . . but are really fascinating to an outside audience as well,” said Eric Athas, senior digital news specialist at NPRDS. The division looked for ways to expand the project beyond Facebook and to encourage stations to enhance digital presentations of their stories for online audiences.

Good shareable local stories can originate on radio but are usually reworked for a digital audience, which can involve rewriting text and adding visual elements, Athas said.