NPR API Goes Read-Write

For decades, public radio in the United States has provided accessible news and educational content to millions of listeners. Despite its popularity, traditional radio has a local broadcast range and limited opportunities for interactivity, and the rise of online social media has challenged public broadcasters to redefine their roles for the Internet age. National Public Radio (NPR), which produces popular programs such as All Things Considered and Talk of the Nation, has been a pioneer in embracing web technology by making its content available through a rich, standards-based API. Until now, the API operated much like a broadcast radio station, as it could only be used to retrieve content from a central location. However, NPR has taken a major step toward incorporating the read-write capabilities of the web for content delivery, with its announcement of a new feature called API Ingest. This update which will allow authorized stations to not only download programming, but to post content to the NPR API.

Daniel Jacobson, NPR's Director of Application Development (and ProgrammableWeb contributor) recently described how new improvements to the API will make it more than a one way source of broadcast content:

Until today, the NPR API has been a one-way firehose of content, pushing hundreds of thousands of stories from NPR and the twelve NPR Music partner stations out to the world. Now the API is read-write, allowing authorized external parties to post stories to the NPR API.

NPR's API Ingest is currently is being piloted with content from Oregon Public Broadcasting and the Northwest News Network, and will soon expand to accept content from stations in San Francisco, Boston, and Philadelphia.

In addition to these new read-write features, the NPR API will soon provide access to NPR blog content. While blogs such as NPR's "Blog of the Nation," have recently become an important supplement to information radio, NPR blog content was only available via disparate RSS feeds. Currently, only a few blogs can be accessed through the API, but NPR plans to provide access to all of its blog content very soon. This means that developers can now access blog content using the same API that provides access to NPR stories and transcripts, simplifying mashup creation and reducing code.

The NPR API is very versatile, and can return data in a variety of formats besides XML, including RSS, MediaRSS, JSON and more. In keeping with NPR's mission, content accessed through the API is available to registered users for personal, non-commercial use, or for noncommercial online use by non-profit organizations. Developers that use the API must register for an API Key (for more information, visit NPR's API overview page).

The NPR API has already been used for some very creative and useful mashups that we've covered before, such as the popular NPR Road Trip Planner. For information about other news and radio data sources, check out our extensive list of news APIs.

Be sure to read the next News Services article: Reporting with Data: How the New York Times Uses APIs