When launching the API at OSCON in 2008, NPR targeted four audiences: the open source community; NPR member stations; NPR partners and vendors; and finally our internal developers and product managers. In its short two-year life, the NPR API has grown tremendously, from only a few hundred thousand requests per month to more than 40M. In that growth, all four target audiences have been heavy consumers, validating our premise that the API is critical to our digital media strategy going forward.
Accordingly, NPR’s investment in the API has grown since that initial launch. NPR.org and its flash player are completely dependent on the API. The immensely popular NPR News iPhone app, our Android app, and our recently launched mobile site are also wholly powered by the it. Moreover, our distribution strategy with our member stations has been almost entirely shifted over to the API. Member stations, including WBUR, KQED, MPR and others, are making extensive use of the API to present richer experiences on their sites. Meanwhile, partners like Google, Yahoo! and others are using the NPR API to build out tools in their corresponding platforms. In essence, all of NPR’s distribution efforts are now based entirely or in part on the API.
Because of this strategic focus on the API, NPR has focused resources on building the right architecture for it. This presentation will focus on our evolving strategy, the architectures that support the API, as well as the changes in our business and editorial processes to take advantage of the new strategy (including how we involve the open source community). To demonstrate the success for the target audiences, I will provide many examples and a host of metrics around API usage.
As API’s and cloud computing become much more prevalent in the digital media industry, API adoption and consumption will become more important as media organizations fight to remain relevant to users. Although the NPR approach may not be achievable, or even desirable, for other media organizations, there are many great lessons to be shared.
Daniel Jacobson is the Director of Application Development for NPR Digital Media. As such, Daniel leads the development of NPR’s content management system, web site, podcasts, mobile site, APIs, and other digital products. NPR has embraced open source as being central to its digital media strategy, and the API is the strategy’s centerpiece.
Daniel is also a member of the Board of Directors for the OpenID Foundation.
Jeremy Pennycook is a recent addition to NPR’s digital team. With a focus on the intersection of technology and journalism, he manages various mobile products for NPR. Jeremy holds a master’s degree in mass communication from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University. He has participated in the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship, Gannett’s New Media Innovation Lab, the Carnegie-Knight News 21 Initiative, and the Knight News Challenge.
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