July 11, 2011
Anna Christopher, NPR




NPR and public radio stations in eight states are collaborating to pilot StateImpact, an ambitious local-national journalism initiative to report on state government actions and their impact on citizens and communities. The partners include NPR member station clusters in Florida, Idaho, Indiana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Texas (the full list of stations and the focus of their projects follows). All are participating in a two-year pilot phase of the project. NPR will invite applications from additional stations and states to join the project this Fall.

The StateImpact network builds upon the best of local and state reporting at NPR member stations across the nation by focusing on how state government decisions affect people’s lives. Each partner station group has selected a significant local policy issue to report on in-depth, such as education, healthcare, the economy, the environment, energy and jobs. StateImpact will ultimately put reporters on the ground in all 50 states to serve public radio’s growing audience of 34 million listeners, and tens of millions more online and on mobile.

Reporting produced by the participating stations will appear on every available media platform to reach the widest audience – including radio stations throughout each state, websites, blogs and mobile services. One station in each state serves as the project lead, creating a reporting "hub" to focus on an issue critical to that region or state. For Indiana, its education; New Hampshire is reporting on the impact of economic and tax policies on business; and Pennsylvania will tackle energy policy and regulation. Each lead station will collaborate and partner with other public radio stations throughout their state, and with each other. Lead stations will provide a two-person reporting team, with one correspondent focusing on coverage for radio and the web, and the other developing an extensive web site featuring original reporting, content curated from across the web and a destination for public discussion.

Station web sites are launching this summer, with all eight sites live by September 2011. They are linked through a central hub at stateimpact.npr.org. Three states are currently live: Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

"StateImpact is launching at a time when investments in local media are shrinking or have disappeared all together," said Margaret Low Smith, NPR's interim SVP for News. "StateImpact will deliver first class accountability reporting at the local level. This vital reporting is nowhere to be found in dozens of cities and towns across America, and we want to fill that void."

Several foundations, corporations and individual donors have made philanthropic contributions to NPR and partner stations in support of StateImpact: including the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Ethics & Excellence in Journalism Foundation, the Florida College Access Network, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The Melville Charitable Trust, the Open Society Foundations, the School of Business at Southern New Hampshire University, the William and Salomé Scanlan Foundation of Austin and San Antonio, and The Wallace Foundation. These grants fund the planning and launch phases, and have made it possible for NPR to staff an eight-member StateImpact desk to run the project. NPR is working collaboratively with partner stations to seek additional funding for the overall initiative, and local and regional matching funds.

NPR is serving as a central editorial and technical resource, enabling stations in every state to work collaboratively with one another to develop stories and share content on common issues, and identify national trends. The StateImpact desk is led by deputy director Cathy Duchamp, former editor of the Northwest News Network based in Seattle, Wa.; editorial coordinators are Ken Rudin, longtime NPR Washington editor, and Elise Hu, who recently joined NPR from the Texas Tribune. Helping stations to uncover stories now locked in state databases is the mission of Matt Stiles, database reporting coordinator for the project, who also came to NPR from the Texas Tribune.

StateImpact is the latest NPR initiative to build the reporting capacity of public radio across all platforms at both the national and local level. Earlier contributions by The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) jointly funded the first phase of the Argo network. Knight previously funded intensive multiplatform training at NPR, and CPB is supporting the planning phase of the Public Media Platform, a digital distribution network to serve all public media via a common infrastructure. Each of these projects sets the stage for the ambitious and broad scope of StateImpact.

NPR is an award-winning, multimedia news organization and an influential force in American life. In collaboration with more than 900 independent public radio stations nationwide, NPR strives to create a more informed public – one challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas and cultures.

List of Pilot StateImpact Stations:

StateImpact Florida: Putting Education Reform to the Test
WUSF, Tampa (project lead)
WJCT, Jacksonville
WLRN, Miami
WMFE, Orlando
WUWF, Pensacola

StateImpact Idaho: Bringing the Economy Home
Boise State Public Radio, Boise (project lead)
Idaho Public TV
KISU, Pocatello
Northwest News Network

StateImpact Indiana: The Education Shift, from Pre-K to College
Live Site: http://stateimpact.npr.org/indiana
WFIU, Bloomington (project lead)
WNIN, Evansville
WBAA, West Lafayette
WFYI, Indianapolis
WBST, Muncie
WBNI, Roanoke, Ft. Wayne
WVPE, Elkhart

StateImpact Ohio: Eye On Education
Live Site: http://stateimpact.npr.org/ohio
ideastream, Cleveland (project lead)
WKSU, Akron
WOSU, Columbus

StateImpact Oklahoma: On the Money Trail
KGOU, Norman (project lead)
KOSU, Oklahoma City
KWGS, Tulsa
Oklahoma Educational Television Authority (OETA), Oklahoma City

StateImpact New Hampshire: Business and the Economy in the Granite State
New Hampshire Public Radio, Concord

StateImpact Pennsylvania: Energy, Environment, Economy
Live Site: http://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania
WITF, Harrisburg (project lead)
WHYY, Philadelphia
WDUQ, Pittsburgh
WPSU, State College
WDIY, Lehigh Valley
WQLN, Erie
WVIA, Wilkes-Barre

StateImpact Texas: Connecting Power Policy and the People
KUT, Austin (project lead)
KUHF, Houston