storytelling data

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From photography, illustration and video, to data visualizations and immersive experiences, visuals are an important part of our storytelling at NPR. Interwoven with the written and the spoken word, images — another visual language — can create deeper understanding and empathy for the struggles and triumphs we face together.

We told a lot of stories in 2016 — far more than we can list here. So, instead, here’s a small selection of our favorite pieces, highlighting some of the work we’re most proud of, some of the biggest stories we reported, and some of the stories we had the most fun telling.

(Some Of) Our Favorite Visual Stories of 2016

Images: David Gilkey/NPR; Emily Kask, Cassi Alexandra (2), and Andrew Cullen for NPR; Alyson Hurt/NPR; Adrienne Grunwald for NPR; Joy Ho and Meredith Rizzo/NPR

Hello again

As you may have heard (or read), I am leaving Bloomberg. I’d like to try and explain why.

I never wrote a goodbye letter when I left Vox and The Verge. So maybe this can kill two big birds with one big stone. Although I am generally against the murder of animals.

First, some background.

You may not know this about me so I will tell you: I love building new things. I love looking at tough problems and figuring out a way to make them work. I love making something beautiful and useful and smart and engaging. I love the potential I see in news and media and modern storytelling and how that works on the web / mobile / apps / whatever — but I don’t often love what I see being done with it. And I get particularly bored and anxious when I feel like I’m not working towards making something more interesting than the last thing I made.

We made something unbelievable at The Verge from scratch, and built Vox into a new kind of beast in media — but there was still so much more that could be done. That I wanted to do.

A little over a year ago when I first talked to Justin Smith and Josh Tyrangiel about going to Bloomberg, I was skeptical. Why would I leave something I started and owned — which also happened to be hugely successful — to go to a behemoth of a corporation like Bloomberg? Why would I leave my friends and second family at Vox to start something new?

But little by little, I became convinced that something incredible was brewing at Bloomberg. I was already enamored with Businessweek and what Josh had done with that magazine as editor (you can be sure it came up in Verge meetings all the time). And their idea about Bloomberg was massive. The idea that you could harness the enormous and magnificent resources of the company on the media and news side was electric. Remember, this is a company with literally thousands of journalists in almost every corner of the world, a TV network, radio, multiple magazines… and more than just a little bit of money.

It was too huge, too crazy, and too interesting to say no to. So I said yes, and it was one of the best decisions of my life.

Fast forward twelve months, and so much of what I wanted to do at the company has come to pass. We accomplished ridiculous things in a tiny period of time.

Let this sink in a bit: we launched two completely new (award-winning, beautiful, inventive) websites and founded our first regional site (hi Europe!); hit new traffic records (like surpassing the WSJ for the first time); became the leader in business digital video (we grew audiences nearly 350% YoY); nearly doubled our social traffic (all time highs in every metric, a 358% increase in Facebook traffic YoY); PLUS we saw double digit revenue growth in digital.

But more important than revenue or numbers, the editorial work I had a chance to be a part of was some of the strongest and most interesting stuff anyone anywhere has been doing. Things like Paul Ford’s outrageously great What is Code, data viz storytelling like This Is How Fast America Changes Its Mind and our 2015 Weed Index, or our 80’s-drenched oral history of junk bond kings, a feature about mutant big game hunting in South Africa, the tale of a sad drill in Seattle, or, you know, this insane Paul Krugman thing. To say nothing of the killer photo essays we did for Pursuits, or the fantastic new video our team has been creating. The list goes on and on. We’ve been making a lot of cool shit.

But the last few months have been difficult for me. I started to feel a desire to go even further, beyond the shores of business-focused coverage (this is Bloomberg after all), into the broader, weirder, and nerdier side of my interests — something I knew might not be a perfect fit for that audience. I think launching a new podcast on my own (Tomorrow, for those of you who don’t know), was an attempt to scratch that itch. But that wasn’t enough: I wanted to do more and it was clear that it wasn’t going to be possible to do that work from inside the Bloomberg offices.

I love the people I have had a chance to work with and what we’ve made, but I also knew I had to move on.

And I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my industry.

The reality in media right now is that there is an enormous amount of noise. There are countless outlets (both old and new) vying for your attention, desperate not just to capture some audience, but all the audience. And in doing that, it feels like there’s a tremendous watering down of the quality and uniqueness of what is being made. Everything looks the same, reads the same, and seems to be competing for the same eyeballs. In both execution and content, I find myself increasingly frustrated with the rat race for maximum audience at any expense. It’s cynical and it’s cyclical — which makes for an exhausting and frankly boring experience.

I think people want something better, something more meaningful. Something a lot less noisy.

We made incredible and innovative things at The Verge and Vox Media, we made incredible and innovative things at Bloomberg, but I don’t think I got even close to what’s possible. I don’t think I’ve scratched the surface.

So, time to get to work.

Tumblr Sponsored Posts Now Promoted on Yahoo

By Mike Kerns, Senior Vice President of Homepage and Verticals & Lee Brown, Global Head of Brand Partnerships for Tumblr

Tumblr has always provided a creative canvas with limitless expression that attracts the culturally curious – the best place on the web for creators and marketers.  In fact, over the last two years, marketers have invested in Tumblr and contributed content as beautiful and diverse as the posts from our independent creators and editors.

Today, we’re excited to help marketers elevate their brand stories in a much bigger way. For the first time, content from Tumblr Sponsored Posts will be seamlessly promoted across Yahoo and Tumblr, which reach more than 800 million average monthly visitors. Tumblr Sponsored Posts are now integrated and available through Yahoo Gemini, the industry’s only marketplace where advertisers can buy mobile search and native advertising.

Sponsored Posts will still feature the same native engagements that brands greatly value  (like, reblog and follow). Through Yahoo Gemini, now the same posts — articles, images or videos — can be promoted through native ads across Yahoo’s content streams, article pages, image galleries and digital magazines, on desktop and mobile. Yahoo’s data makes it easy for brands to reach the right audiences at scale with seamless, impactful native ads that drive engagement. 

Some of the world’s favorite brands are already working with Tumblr and Yahoo to tell their brand stories, such as Lionsgate’s (NYSE: LGF) Capitol Couture destination to promote “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1,” the next chapter of The Hunger Games trilogy.  Tapping into the artful black and white photography community, Lexus prompts people to “Send them a Signal,” while Lipton challenges consumers to #BeMoreTea. 

We’ve always believed in the power of creative brand storytelling, and data shows that advertising is more memorable and impactful when it is as good as the content around it.A recent case study across Yahoo and Tumblr showed that when people viewed content marketing, unaided brand awareness increased by 40 percent; brand consideration grew 31 percent; and tagline recognition increased by 100 percent.*

* Source: Yahoo & Tumblr Ipsos Content Marketing Case Study, June 2014

Want to learn more?  Check out our Press Center.

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If you have a disability in the U.S., you’re twice as likely to be poor as someone without a disability. You’re also far more likely to be unemployed. And that gap has widened in the 25 years since the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted.

“Every man, woman and child with a disability can now pass through once-closed doors into a bright new era of equality, independence and freedom,” President George H.W. Bush said when he signed the bill into law on July 26, 1990.

The ADA banned discrimination based on disability and was intended to ensure equal opportunity in employment — as well as government services and public accommodations, commercial facilities and public transportation.

But it hasn’t always worked that way, especially when it comes to expanding economic opportunity for the 58 million Americans with physical and mental disabilities.

You just have to look at what 27-year-old Emeka Nnaka of Tulsa, Okla., goes through on an average day to understand some of the reasons why.

Six years ago, Nnaka was playing semipro football for the Oklahoma Thunder when he went to make a tackle and broke his neck. He was paralyzed from his chest down. Today, Nnaka gets around in a motorized wheelchair, and has limited use of his hands.

But he still has big dreams. He plans to finish his undergraduate education this summer and start working on a master’s degree in human relations. He wants to become a licensed counselor, and hopes someday to have a home and a family he can support.

Why Disability And Poverty Still Go Hand In Hand 25 Years After Landmark Law

Photos: Kenneth M. Ruggiano for NPR