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2020 General Excellence in Online Journalism, Medium Newsroom finalist

WBUR

About the Project

As repeated crises have roiled our country and disrupted our lives, the WBUR newsroom has leaned into its longstanding commitment to digital journalism, giving our community new and engaging ways of staying informed.

It shows across everything we do, from daily news and investigative reporting to newsletters, podcasts, and special events, keeping our listeners informed and connected when they need it most.

WBUR’s excellence in daily audio journalism has blossomed across our digital platforms with deeply reported newswriting, engaging and inventive use of social media, and stunning photography.

Our new investigative unit published “Dying on the Sheriff’s Watch,” a groundbreaking probe of deaths in Massachusetts county jails that shows fluency with text, photography, digital design, audio and data.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, our team swiftly took advantage of blogs, multimedia, social platforms and more, with a sharp eye on surfacing the most important information quickly. This is best exemplified by a feature we call “Get Caught Up,” a constantly updated page that uses maps, graphics, and generous links to the latest reporting to keep our audience informed.

WBUR also has used digital tools to advance our pathbreaking reporting on a devastating coronavirus outbreak at a state nursing home for veterans. We were on the story weeks before the state admitted there was a crisis, and well ahead of other newsrooms, using social media to connect with sources and webcasts with our lead reporter to keep the community up to date.

We’re also pushing ahead with our core expertise in audio storytelling to reach new audiences and embrace new formats.

“Circle Round,” a collection of folktales for children, has been a lifeline for parents stuck at home without childcare. . We also apply meticulous sound production, rigorous reporting, and creativity to topics as sweeping as everyday kindness (Kind World), the fascinating world of Reddit’s online communities (Endless Thread), and a personal journey into our relationship with food (Food, We Need To Talk).

In response to the pandemic, WBUR also launched “Coronavirus, Briefly”, a two- to three-minute daily microcast about the pandemic’s impact. Released each weekday evening, the microcast gives listeners a concise update across all on-demand audio platforms, including podcast apps and smart speakers.

Digital expertise has also helped us continue our vital role as a convener. In March, after our CitySpace events venue was closed, WBUR quickly pivoted to a series of virtual town halls that are free and open to the public. These weekly discussions, bringing together WBUR journalists and experts, are streamed live on YouTube and employ Slido.com to let participants ask questions.

Our topics have covered the breadth of needs in our community: our most recent live event was titled “Racial Inequities Revealed By COVID-19,” but we’ve also led “Storytime” sessions, where the familiar voices of WBUR reporters and hosts read children’s books.