NPR News Head Talks Fact Based Reporting & Local Collaboration

March 2017

“You can’t understand this country’s politics unless you understand it at a local level,” NPR’s Senior Vice President of News Mike Oreskes told E.B. Moss in a recent interview about NPR’s local-national news strategy, fact based reporting, and how it benefited NPR’s coverage of the 2016 election and the new administration.

This political season has put a spotlight on media companies, and during this time, NPR’s reporting has remained rooted in facts, decidedly thorough and notably inventive. Audiences took notice. NPR’s Politics Podcast was recognized for sporting “genteel objectivity (and abstinence from punditry)” during an unpredictable election season. NPR’s live election night coverage featured 14 station reporters on national airwaves to provide critical local perspective and expertise for audiences. And the popular NPR annotation tool and fact-checker drove huge spikes in traffic to NPR platforms week after week. During the first Presidential debate, NPR’s fact checking tool attracted more than 9.7M page views from 7.7M unique viewers – making the first debate and the following day NPR’s two largest web traffic days ever.

Mike Oreskes on fact based reporting

NPR Senior VP of News Mike Oreskes. Photo Credit: Chuck Zoeller/AP

“I think that’s a great illustration of how if you find the right way to present journalism, it can build all sorts of new audiences,” Oreskes said.

Every month, 45M users are now turning to NPR for fact based reporting – a 28% YOY increase. And the latest Nielsen Audio ratings showed double digit growth across nearly every NPR program and a record radio audience of 30M weekly listeners, with a 26% spike in listeners A25-44.

Oreskes attributes NPR’s success to its unique advantage of presence in every state through Member stations, complementing national reporting with essential coverage from the local perspective. 

“At a time when many news organizations have been forced to contract, NPR is expanding coverage and focusing resources on the local and national issues that listeners care about,” Oreskes said in March. “Now, more and more people are turning to NPR as their source for unbiased fact based news.”

That fact based reporting is a cornerstone of NPR journalism.

“If you listened to NPR or read our work digitally, you got a pretty strong understanding of what was happening in our country,” Oreskes tells Moss. “We received many thank you letters to that effect.”

“At a time when criticism of the media is audible from the top down,” as Moss describes it, Oreskes is proud to call NPR and the public media network a trusted “voice of reason.”

The National Conversation

Beyond the election, politics has taken center stage at some of the biggest entertainment events of the year. At the GRAMMYs, A Tribe Called Quest’s performance ended with cries to “Resist.” While at the Super Bowl, Lady Gaga opened the halftime show with “This Land is Your Land,” Woody Guthrie’s response to “God Bless America.” And at the Oscars everything from host Jimmy Kimmel’s jokes to honoree speeches and red carpet celebrities adorning awareness ribbons were ripe with political overtones.

Political issues are popping up everywhere, and as people across the country work to keep these conversations at the forefront of the national conversation, brands are using advertising and marketing campaigns to join the conversation. Coca-Cola and Airbnb at the Super Bowl, GE and Cadillac at the Oscars… these are just a few. 

As people seek out reliable and thoughtful spaces for these important conversations, NPR remains a go-to outlet for fact based reporting. And sponsorship of NPR helps make that work possible.

“The more heated the environment around us becomes, the more we want to be calm and factual… to rest on solid reporting,” he says. Fact based reporting has been a pillar of NPR since its founding nearly 50 years ago, and it will remain at the backbone of the organization in the future.

Click here to read the full interview with Mike Oreskes.


Sources: Google Analytics, 3-month average, October–December 2016. Lightspeed Research, State of Sponsorship Survey, April 2016. % Agree or strongly agree among Morning Edition/All Things Considered weekly listeners, n=500



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