NPR on Reddit: Where do they fit?

The three “types” of Reddit journalists that I have described is not intended to be a strict taxonomy of Reddit use for journalists — you could fit into one, two, or three of these categories simultaneously — but simply the three ways I see journalists using Reddit.

NPR’s work on Reddit is full of examples of all three categories. They use Reddit as a rich source of untapped stories. Digital strategist Melody Kramer has encouraged reporters to use subreddits like Explain Like I’m 5 for story ideas, mapping out how to search by subject area.

But there is a reason why NPR hasn’t been kicked out of Reddit: They don’t stop there. Sure, they use Reddit as a source for ideas, but they also use the platform to start conversations and commit journalism natively on the platform. Dozens of NPR journalists, for example, have conducted “AMAs” about their reporting. Journalists like Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson have generated discussion to inform future stories.

NPR has also demonstrated how “Subreddit Sneaks” can be welcomed by the community. Kramer encourages reporters to use the site search to discover how their stories are playing on Reddit (see sidebar).

How do I find out how my story is playing on Reddit?
Go to reddit.com and type in this into the search bar: “site:URL” with your organization’s URL. (For example, an NPR journalist would type “site:npr.org”.) This will pull up all submissions on Reddit that include the npr.org domain. From those search results, you can filter by time, popularity and even “controversy” — usually an indicator of activity in the comments. This is a great way to keep tabs of who is posting your stories and what kind of conversations are happening around them.

And individual NPR reporters have demonstrated moments of native Reddit reporting, like when All Things Considered producer Theo Balcomb used the /r/army subreddit to find sources for her story on multi-generational military families.

After her call out on Reddit, she got an email from a Redditor who wasn’t familiar with NPR but heard about the story from Reddit. The show ended up using the interview with the father and son in rural Utah.

NPR has had its own subreddit for over six years, yet Kramer and three other moderators constantly change and adapt their approach to the subreddit. To increase the quality of comments, for example, the moderators added the option for NPR subreddit members to add “flair” to their profiles that identified what NPR station they identified with.

Have you seen other good uses of Reddit for journalism? Tell me about them in the comments below.

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