As we’ve built Stacker, we’ve seen the impact that providing high-quality data journalism can have on news organizations. It can contextualize complex topics and engage readers through intuitive storytelling formats, all while filling coverage gaps for audiences that have come to expect a comprehensive range of stories from publishers.
During our first three years at Stacker, we focused on national-level storytelling, transforming data from sources like the BLS, CDC, and NOAA into feature stories that could be syndicated across our entire network. As we began to work with more local news organizations across the country, we saw an emerging opportunity to deliver localized data reporting for their communities.
After a year of building out this idea, we are thrilled to officially announce our newest story offering, Stacker Local, which turns our data storytelling into local series available across all 50 states, 384 U.S. metropolitan statistical areas, and other more granular geographic cuts.
That means that when we published our piece on the What Michigan's immigrant population looked like in 1900 to our Michigan hub, we also released 49 stories built off the same data framework for every other state in America. A story mapping out the closest national parks to Boston is not only available on our Boston hub—it can also be accessed for Portland, Boise, New Orleans, and every other U.S. metro area as well. We’ve taken this approach across a range of topics, including rural hospital access, real estate, poverty, employment, COVID-19, elections, and more—with a focus on tackling stories that can supplement the original reporting of our partners or serve as a basis for their journalists to build their own stories off of.
How we do it
Our newsroom tackles data-rich topics to produce and distribute stories to our news network, built on a partnership model similar to how local news orgs work with AP and Reuters for wire content. We invest dozens of hours in data projects so that they can be shared as stories and data assets for journalists and our partners, allowing newsrooms of all sizes to tap into data reporting for their area.
Every Stacker story starts with research. We scout rich data sources and image libraries that can drive local storytelling at scale, leveraging data pipelines and bespoke story frameworks that can be mapped to the geographic areas most important to our local news partners. Once we’ve produced the underlying data analysis, our writers and editors step in to contextualize the data and tell the full story—bringing in historical perspectives, key explanations of terms and concepts, and news pegs to drive home the relevance of each series.
It’s this blend of computer-assisted reporting and editorial expertise that allows us to turn complex datasets into hyper-localized storytelling at scale—whether it's stories analyzing Census data or a monthly series on animals available for adoption or the highest-rated restaurants in a given area. Our newsroom efforts are supported by the Story Tech Stack we’ve built over the last four years, which combines data pipelines, locational taxonomy, proprietary CMS, and an integrated distribution network to streamline the production and delivery of stories to our news partners (read more about our Story Tech Stacker here).
We now have over 1,000 news partners with access to our local storytelling, and our partners have already seen success publishing our local reporting in their own publications. Many partners run full stories to complement their own coverage, while others build off the data insights to craft their own stories.
Once we’ve created a local story series, we push the story out through our distribution network through integrated RSS feeds, story alerts, or republishing buttons on our site—allowing journalists and publishers of all technical capabilities to grab stories with ease.
We know the headwinds facing local newsrooms are stronger than ever, which is why we’re so committed to creating tools that enable local publishers to do their jobs more easily, and engage audiences of all sizes. With Stacker Local officially launched, we are ramping up coverage across new locales and reporting beats. In the coming months, we plan to tell deeper stories in the local space—across beats including economics, real estate, transportation, weather, and more—making it easier than ever for all of our publishing partners to find hyperlocal content that resonates with their audiences.
A huge thanks to all the journalists and publishing partners who have helped inform our early coverage. If you'd like to learn more about what we're building or discuss syndicating Stacker's content on your site, reach out to our Head of Local, Rob Powell, at firstname.lastname@example.org (or check out our job board for open roles!).