A Story About Public Media Storytelling: NPR.org's New About Page

Nov 20, 2013
Originally published on November 20, 2013 2:44 pm

You can throw a rock in pretty much any direction on NPR.org and hit a captivating story that gives you a thoughtful, nuanced take on what's happening in the world. And if you wander around in here for any decent length of time, you'll inevitably stumble across a ridiculously fascinating subject you never knew you'd find ridiculously fascinating. Rigorous reporting and immersive storytelling is The Thing We Do. But there's one story that still deserves the NPR treatment: our own story.

Case in point: the old About page here at NPR.org. Take look at it (pictured at left). Informative? Yes. Accurate? Absolutely. But we weren't using the same engaging, passionate approach we use to talk about the world outside our walls.

Why? Well, our approach to journalism is part of it. We deeply respect the stories we tell, and when we're doing our jobs well, you barely even know we're there. It's about seamlessly connecting you and the story. Set the table, light the candles and let the magic happen. The attention should be on the meal, not the chef.

So when pressed to describe ourselves, we typically point to the stories. And we will continue to do so, because they are our children and we are shamelessly proud of them. But what (and who) drives the storytelling? Why do we at NPR come in (fly away, sail out, sneak across borders) to work every day, do what we do, and make what we make? What do we stand for?

Our new About section is a first stab at an ongoing answer. We've stepped away from the work for a minute to look it over and pick out some our favorites, reflect on what it all means and why it we think it matters.

Like every story we tell, we wanted this one to be told in the way that resonates with you. So we built this new page based on a solid foundation of research. Research that involved conversations with thousands of people around the country familiar with NPR, loyal fans, casual listeners and everyone in between. We asked them what they thought about us and our work. The result is a story that represents both what you and we believe NPR has to offer.

So moving forward, you will see (and hear) NPR hosts, journalists and staff do something we generally don't. Talk about ourselves, our story. The #NPRStory.

Max Pfennighaus is the Director of Marketing and Branding at NPR. Prior to all of this brand navel-gazing, he was leading the design team that reimagined the NPR website. Prior to that, he had a long career in advertising, honing his evil powers.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.