Latest reporting project floods U.S. with enterprising stories
Monday, October 5, 2015
Posted by: Angie Muhs
Latest installment of national reporting project floods U.S. with enterprising stories
By Thomas Koetting
News organizations across the country again embraced the joint Associated Press/APME national reporting project on America’s crumbling infrastructure, giving prominent play to the third installment on challenges facing the nation’s drinking water systems.
This latest installment of the “Fractured Framework” series came in late September after two successful packages earlier this year, one on highway funding, the other on traffic gridlock. The genesis this time was that safe, readily-available drinking water has for too long been taken for granted – and it impacts people regardless of the size, location or demographics of their community.
Brian Carovillano, AP vice president for U.S. news, is supervising the yearlong project. Tom Verdin, AP’s enterprise editor for state government coverage, is in charge of pulling all the pieces together. His team produced six stories, all with photos, a video and a 50-state interactive that included county-level data about water use. Key to the project were five data sets the AP packaged for member use and emailed to editors three weeks before the Sept. 27 publication date.
Verdin held a conference call so that reporters and editors across the country could ask questions about the data and project. And with so much lead time, news organizations again molded the series to fit the needs of their newsrooms and their audiences.
The Vindicator in Youngstown, Ohio, used nearly all its Sunday 1A real estate on a package that included three stories – two AP, one local – along with a graphic and three photos. The Morning Telegraph in Tyler, Texas, featured two locally written stories on its cover along with a staff-generated centerpiece graphic created from the AP's data sets.
The Columbus Dispatch teased an inside special report of AP elements with an A1 centerpiece built with a photo illustration and staff-written story. And in Monroe, La., the News-Star launched the series on its Sunday cover with an AP story, local story, two photos and a logo, then spread other elements of the series into its Monday and Tuesday publications.
In market after market, if news organizations didn’t put the series on the cover, they packaged pieces of it inside as part of their national report. Others held onto it until later in the week – an option many members used with the second installment as well.
Next up: The vulnerability of the nation’s power grid.
Koetting is deputy managing editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the APME board member helping coordinate the national reporting project.