NPR experiments with local news headlines on national home page

People who visit 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 (WBURWNYCWAMUWHYYWFIUKPCC and North Country Public Radio), the headlines link directly to stories on the member stations’ sites.

For a second group (Michigan RadioKPLUKQEDKUT,Oregon Public Broadcasting and Boise State Public Radio), the headlines link to story pages on, 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 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 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.”

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  • Anonymous

    Thanks, Matthew. We’re actually running a separate experiment in which we are doing exactly that — geotargeting local station stories on NPR’s Facebook page. Here’s a piece we wrote for Nieman Lab: 

    The test was the basis for our Knight News Challenge pitch — GeoGraph — which would allow us to expand the project to the greater public media ecosystem (we also think GeoGraph would be valuable for other news organizations):

  • Matthew Keys

    It’s an interesting concept. From what I gather, it’s not all that different from what corporate news organizations, like MSNBC and ABC News, do with their “local headlines” section, which pull in local news headlines based on the IP address of the computer visiting the page.

    I hope NPR takes it a step further and applies this practice to Facebook — posting news stories on NPR’s Facebook from member stations with geographical restrictions to help build engagement with the local stations on their Facebook platforms (example: NPR posts a story on its Facebook page from KQED’s website and sets the “target by” location to Northern California or the San Francisco Bay Area).