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How NBC News Uses CrowdTangle To Source and Tell Local Stories on a National Level
How NBC News Uses CrowdTangle To Source and Tell Local Stories on a National Level

NBC's director of social newsgathering, Jareen Imam, shares how her team has been able to humanize stories for their audience.

Written by Tess
Updated over a week ago

Telling stories about big issues through local voices

COVID-19 has upended the way journalists find and interview sources. NBC News’ Social Newsgathering team has been at the forefront of telling breaking news and investigative stories through our social and digital newsgathering, and in our research and story development, we’ve been using different features on CrowdTangle, from creating alerts, to applying filters, to using its new search tool, in order to find voices of local people who can help us tell more rich and complex stories about big issues. From high school athletes whose pathways to colleges were put on hold because of fall sports season being cancelled to people traveling for miles so that they can get access to WiFi in public parking lots, the Social Newsgathering team has been able to illustrate the ways COVID-19 has disrupted our lives and tell solution-based stories for NBC News through local voices we’ve discovered on CrowdTangle.

Here are a few examples of the stories we have worked on where we used CrowdTangle:

We discovered Hunter Christman through using the CrowdTangle search tool. His university had posted on Facebook about students like him coming to the school’s parking lot to use WiFi in order to do his school work because he doesn’t have internet access at home. From there, Senior Social Newsgathering Reporter, Shamar Walters, on my team tracked Christman down and interviewed him for this piece about how many rural Americans lack stable internet access and at what lengths they are going to stay connected with their schools, jobs and families.

We also wanted to look into how college students were fairing when it comes to mental health concerns after months of living through shutdowns and social distancing. Our team found Maryorie Delgado quoted in a small outlet. She was discussing her family’s struggles and how it was affecting her mental health negatively. We used the CrowdTangle search again to find this local story. When we read what she was going through, we looked her up, interviewed her, and incorporated her story into this larger piece about students bracing for second COVID-19 curve and the virus’ impact on students’ mental health.

Lastly, we interviewed three people, high school athlete Devon Clinkscales, Coach Rodney Saulsberry, and high school athlete Jordan Montgomery, through a combination of CrowdTangle alerts and the Search tool. These characters helped us build a story around an issue we wanted to look into: How was cancelled college sports seasons affecting scholarships for student athletes, many of which rely on these scholarships as a pathway to go to college? Not only were we able to tell a powerful story for, but we also produced a video package for NBC News Now about their stories, and our work got some students access to resources so that they could figure out their next steps for higher education.

What does any of this have to do with how we're going to cover the election?

There's a lot of different ways to cover the 2020 U.S. presidential elections. NBC News' Social newsgathering team is focused on speaking to voters, real people, who are facing issues with requesting mail-in ballots, or volunteering to work at polling stations, or registering for the first time to vote. These case studies help us build a framework for how to search better, smarter and faster for these human voices through CrowdTangle Search.

Learn more about how to use Search here.

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