2015 General Excellence in Online Journalism, Small Newsroom winner

About the Project

In the spring 2014, KBIA was selected by NPR Digital Services as an Alpha Partner in its Responsive Website Redesign project, which dynamically adjusts to display content on different devices. (Check on your mobile device to see how this compares to the full-size site). Over the next five months KBIA’s digital team worked closely with the Core Publisher team in Boston, providing real-world testing and feedback on new features, design, and staff usability. On August 5, 2014 KBIA officially became the first NPR Member Station to utilize NPR’s Responsive Web Design. Over the next four months KBIA continued to provide early-stage feedback and testing of longform-specific feature sets, as well as new tools for homepage optimization. NPR Digital Services publically launched the project for other member stations on December 1, 2014. recently won a regional Edward R. Murrow Award for best small market radio website. The entry is currently in competition for the national award, which KBIA also won for its website in 2014.

Access Missouri

KBIA news director Ryan Famuliner is the founder and creator of Access Missouri, which launched in November 2014. Famuliner collaborated with the MU Informatics Institute to create the site with grant funding from the MU Interdisciplinary Innovations Fund. In Missouri, there is a significant amount of state government data that is almost completely unsearchable on state government sites, because of the way it is stored – almost exclusively on .pdfs as daily journals. Before this project, getting comprehensive information on basic legislative action – a legislator’s voting records, attendance, bill sponsorship information, etc. – required hours of research spent poring through these documents.

Importantly, Missouri is the only state in the country that has no limits on individual campaign contributions or lobbyist gifts. There is significant need for awareness of the flow of money in state politics, and for the press and public to serve as watchdogs. This project opens up that information, creating a whole new level of transparency to the public.

Here are links to examples of some of the interesting features Famuliner directed developers to create to highlight important information in the data:

Development of the Access Missouri continues, and developer have been sharing information with reporters interested in launching similar projects in other states. It was part of the submission that won the regional Edward R Murrow award this year.

Heartland, Missouri

Heartland is an intentional Christian community with businesses, a recovery center, a school, and a huge cattle and dairy operation all owned and funded by a man named Charles Sharpe. Heartland is praised by many for its beneficial work, but is questioned by others for its use of corporal punishment on children and its secrecy. We investigated Heartland and found its founder is a major political donor in the state of Missouri and that the laws protecting Heartland from state inspection may have been influenced by Sharpe and his lobbyists.

We put significant effort into the online component of this project, consulting with NPR digital services to find the best ways to utilize the CMS for this story.

Heartland, Missouri has been honored with numerous awards this year, including the Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards (now in national competition), a Missouri Broadcaster’s Association award, and yet-to-be-formally-announced national awards from PRNDI and the Religion Newswriters’ Association.

Here Say

Drawing inspiration from projects such as Humans of New York, Localore and Storycorps,
Here Say is an experiment in community storytelling. By going out into the community each week and collecting stories from locations that inherently have people whose voices would not typically be heard on KBIA, we can create a causal relationship, attracting new listeners. These listeners hopefully stem from not only the individuals we met while out collecting stories, but a new group of listeners who are more inclined to listen to a program where life experiences similar to their own are represented.

Here Say is comprised of three main parts: a weekly radio show, a podcast and an interactive web application. The four minute radio show airs twice weekly, and the Here Say podcast is available on iTunes under KBIAFM.

Here Say and the interactive map web application is hosted on KBIA’s website. While the show only airs between three or four of the stories we’ve collected from that week, the interactive map is populated with all of the location’s stories.

The producers that worked on Here Say were invited to present their project at the annual Journalism Interactive conference and at the Reynolds Journalism Institute Tech Showcase.

Shortage in Rich Land

At the end of January, KBIA sent reporters down to southeast Missouri to open the “Bootheel” bureau. They tackled the stories taking place in the towns, fields and health clinics of Missouri’s most productive farmland. We aired five stories during out local broadcasts of Morning Edition and All Things Considered during a week in March.

Significant time and effort was put into the web component of the series. We utilized the Creatavist platform to turn the series into an engaging multimedia vertical.

Because the Missouri Bootheel is so sparsely populated and falls between media markets on the map, there is very little coverage of the issues faced there, which are amongst some of the most dire in the state. The public reception to our coverage of this regional has been overwhelming. Numerous other public radio stations in Missouri have aired our stories and shared our web build out. Reporters returned to the bootheel this May for more newsgathering, and plan to return later this year. Other KBIA staff also visited the area May 20th to host a forum in the community to discuss many of the issues brought up in the reporting. Those in the audience included two Missouri state representatives, mayors and city councilmembers of the small towns in the region, and numerous public health providers and officials.