People who visit NPR.org in 13 cities around the country will see local news headlines on the home page for the next month. It’s an experiment to see if NPR can use its website to bring attention to member stations’ newsgathering. For one group of stations (WBUR, WNYC, WAMU, WHYY, WFIU, KPCC and North Country Public Radio), the headlines link directly to stories on the member stations’ sites.
For a second group (Michigan Radio, KPLU, KQED, KUT,Oregon Public Broadcasting and Boise State Public Radio), the headlines link to story pages on NPR.org, but the pages carry the member stations’ branding and have prominent links to their Facebook pages. “Our goal here is to build longterm audience growth through a connection between the local NPR.org user and the station’s Facebook page,” write Bob Kempf and Mark Stencel in a blog post.
Kempf, the vice president in charge of NPR’s digital services team, told me in an email that NPR will measure referrals from NPR.org to member stations’ sites, traffic to the NPR-hosted story pages, and Facebook engagement (number of fans and how often people comment on or share stories) related to those local stories. “We want to see if there is consistent engagement in local content alongside what is usually a national/international news consumption use case, and more importantly if we can offer more than a transitory ‘drive by’ visit to a single story.”