On weekends I drive to a nearby park for my distance runs and usually listen to NPR. I've noticed more than once how their programming is richer and more filled with news and commentary than many other news organizations. In fact, that listening time is one of the rare moments in which I get a real sense of what's going on in our world.
Not long ago, we discussed how NPR is also reinventing the community experience through new media. And in a recent article at Fast Company, Anya Kamenetz asks will NPR save the news? Digital media editorial editor Dick Meyer seems to think so. He is responsible for all news, entertainment and music content on NPR.org and NPR's other digital platforms.
He is also on the board of the Online News Association, the leading organization for online journalists. Meyer comes from a commercial news network, CBS, and so do many other executives that have joined the ranks of NPR. There seems to be a migration of talent to the non profit organization, and with it an urgency not only to increase audiences, but to deliver the news.
As Myer put it, "Major mainstream stories are increasingly going uncovered. And I think it might be the nonprofit journalism world that meets that huge market need, which is also a basic need of a democratic society and an information-based economy."
Vivian Shiller, the new CEO who moved there from NYTimes.com, attributes NPRs success to the strong bond or connection between the organization and the audience members. Having worked for so many big media companies like The New York Times, Discovery Channel, CNN, TBS, she would know the diffetrence.
She's right, journalism and credibility are the obvious stuff. It's the personal connection that's the secret sauce. The power of that is extraordinary. That is what new media is all about. It's not about the channels or the tools, it's about what happens between people.
I was curious about growth and velocity, so I mapped those at Compete.com. While NPR is trending upwards, its number of unique visitors is still a little more than half those of the NYTimes.com. However, it is trending upwards at a nice clip.
Velocity reports the relative change in daily Attention. It's used to determine the relative growth of a domain over a particular timeframe or compared to other sites. It can help in measuring the impact of planned (or unplanned) events, such as new advertising campaigns, product/service launches or general site growth.
Some numbers. NPR's radio programming listeners have nearly doubled since 1999, and the organization today counts 860 member stations. Its programming now reaches 26.4 million listeners weekly. For comparison-sake, USA Today's has a daily circulation of 2.3 million and Fox News' a 2.8 million prime-time audience.
Not everyone is enthusiastic about NPR as a news source. Yet, it's undeniable that the company is growing and expanding. What are the implications of this growth for public relations activities?
[image from NPR talk of the nation with Neal Conan]