What kind of shape is NPR in?
Back in 2005/6 NPR and its stations went through an Imagining Process (Called New Realities) where all the leadership in the entire system and 200 plus staff, the executive and the board of NPR - worked from this slide to imagine what life would be like in 2009/10.
Of course we have all been overwhelmed by the politcal aspects of NPR recently but how have they done in solving the paradox set for them above? How is NPR doing in both expanding its traditional audience and also being a factor on the web?
"Amid all that creative destruction, there was a one large traditional news organization that added audience, reporters and revenue. That unlikely juggernaut was NPR.
According to the State of the Media report, NPR’s overall audience grew 3 percent in 2010, to 27.2 million weekly listeners, up 58 percent overall since 2000. In the last year, total staff grew 8 percent, and its Web site, npr.org, drew an average of 15.7 million unique monthly visitors, up more than five million visitors. Its foreign bureaus and global footprint continue to grow while other broadcasters slink home.
And while NPR receives a small portion of its operating budget through government money, millions of people also think that its journalism is worthy enough to pay for through contributions, a trick that the rest of news media have had trouble figuring out, to say the least."
As we expected the web was goingto the the place to win or lose in by 2009. NPR are there and also stand out in the Social Media aspect.
"In a survey of more than 10,000 respondents, NPR found that its Twitter followers are younger, more connected to the social web, and more likely to access content through digital platforms such as NPR’s website, podcasts, mobile apps and more.
NPR has more than one Twitter account; its survey found that most respondents followed between two and five NPR accounts, including topical account, show-specific accounts and on-air staff accounts.
The data on age is hardly surprising. The median age of an NPR Twitter follower is 35 — around 15 years younger than the average NPR radio listener. This lines up with data we recently found about other traditional news media; the average Facebook user reading and “liking” content on a news website is two decades younger than the average print newspaper subscriber.
Not to put too fine a point on it, the future of news media lies in successful integration of social media to get the attention (and click-throughs) of a younger generation — a generation whose news needs are vastly different than those of the generations that preceded it.
Of NPR’s Twitter followers, the majority (67%) still do listen to NPR on the radio. But the other ways they access NPR’s content are indicative of a growing trend:"
Here is the relative position:
This is surely a strong base?
When we did the groundwork back in 2005/6 that created the conditions for this shift, we did all talk about the "Elephant in the Room" - the relationship between NPR and the Stations.
As the folks from the 300 stations went through the process - one thing became clear. They could not continue merely to be a repeater for the big magazines. They had to discover a local value that was distinct from relying on NPR.
In the public TV world, KETC has been working assiduously to do this. KETC is defining for many what "Putting the Public into Public TV" will be as NPR is doing for radio.
BUT have the bulk of the stations done the same in the last 5 years? Have they also made the break in culture and in operations to offer their community vital value?
My intuition tells me that the public funding that the local stations rely on will be cut. There is so much momentum.
I think that NPR will in the end be fine - because they have built the direct bridge. They have realized the dream of the New Realities process - NPR have created the "Have it Your Way" reality.
The tools that we could not have imagined back in 2005/6 that can aggregate and curate content from the public are all here now. Look at how the events in North Africa and Japan are being covered using these tools!
Time for the local stations to think about how this approach, these tools, and this culture can radically change their role, impact and costs.