StateImpact Idaho: Fusing Storytelling With Policy And Accountability Reporting

This photo is from a story I did on how Idaho is trying to help businesses create jobs and retrain workers. Credit: Emilie Ritter Saunders

Idaho is one of eight pilot states collaborating with NPR to boost beat-specific reporting.  Each state has two reporters (Texas has three), focused on creating in-depth broadcast and online pieces.

In Idaho, our beat is the economy.  When the national economy tanked between 2007 and 2009, Idaho was in the thick of it.  Nearly half the state’s construction workers were laid off, home buying and selling collapsed, and state policy makers were left trying to do what they could  to turn things around.  Now, in a post-recession Idaho, recovery has been timid.  That’s left us with a wealth of stories to tell.

Much of my reporting has focused on joblessness, government transparency and business.  Here are a few of the stories and interactives I put together.

Me (left) and Molly Messick, my co-reporter at StateImpact Idaho. Credit: Becky Lettenberger / NPR

It’s been really exciting to be part of a new journalism initiative.  Being a pilot state comes with its upsides and downsides.  The biggest upsides for me have been learning how to build and maintain a robust news blog and integrate new media (mapping, charting, making data digestible) into my daily reporting.

The constant challenge is trying to spread the word about the work StateImpact Idaho does.  I’ve grown our social media following in the last year, we now partner with Idaho’s largest newspaper and have weekly features printed in their business publication, and we’ve appeared on Idaho Public Television.