The article lists (and links to!) "Lean UX"  and Google Ventures' Design Sprint Methodology as inspirations.
 "Lean UX: Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience" http://shop.oreilly.com/product/0636920021827.do
"How To Write A Technical Paper"  has: (Related Work, System Model, Problem Statement),
(Your Solution), (Analysis), (Simulation, Experimentation), (Conclusion)
At this time, NPR's News Apps team is about five people, for a large national newsroom. That's actually pretty small! If you look at the kinds of teams that do this kind of work at places like the LA Times (which has both a graphics department and an award-winning Data Desk) or the NYT (last I checked, they had 40+ people on their graphics desk, plus an interactive team in editorial that works on projects like elections) or the Washington Post (big and still hiring). But many newsrooms (both print and broadcast) have at least small teams or single devs that work on big projects like this, even if they're not "flush with staff." That's because having an interactive team inside editorial is a force-multiplier for digital journalism--it lets us combine writing, video, audio, animation, and data in ways that makes the entire package better, so that hopefully people are more likely to pay for it.
And if you have a team, you need a procedure for managing their resources and producing quality work, and that's all this document is. Sure, it's 38 pages long, but a few points: A) we don't follow this letter-by-letter on every project, it's a general tool; B) there's a lot of pictures and it's well-written, which boosts the page count; and C) the audience here isn't just the team, it's also the newsroom: we need to define our processes clearly so that we can interface with journalists who don't necessarily have digital experience or understand why we're making the choices we're making.
We also need to onboard people into the culture of NPR Visuals, which has been a leader in the interactive news space for many years--these guidelines help newcomers and interns understand how we work methodically and carefully to create high-quality journalism. I joined this team, in part, because of its legacy of innovative narrative work. We're not just slapping pre-selected stock photos on a first draft and calling it a day.
It may be true that a lot of small outlets don't have the equivalent of News Apps, or the Interactives team at The Seattle Times (where I previously worked). But it's just not accurate to say that these kinds of teams and procedures don't exist, or that this is a pipe dream. My whole career, and that of my fellow data journalists, shows that's not the case.
Finally, if you're interested in seeing not just how NPR works, but also how teams produce similar rich visual projects around the world, I strongly recommend checking out the archives at Source (https://source.opennews.org/), which in many ways serves as the de facto journal for digital newsroom types. I think you'd be surprised at who you see represented there, and how strong and interesting the work is.
In conclusion, subscribe to your local paper and/or NPR Member station!
(I know not related to NPR)
A couple things I'd be interested in for follow-up:
- How does it go in practice with an actual project? Any real world examples or case studies?
- Any practices introduced here that could be carried back into the scrum / software development world?
> In keeping with our hypothesis-driven design process, we started the project by identifying likely audiences for our digital experience, the contexts by which they’d come to the site (via a promo on social, etc.) and their expectations. With that audience exercise in mind, we decided on a few primary editorial goals for the project:
> - Provide a standalone narrative for people who only encounter the story on the web (and may or may not go on to subscribe to the podcast)
> - Intrigue readers and entice them to listen to the full podcast
> - Provide multimedia material that couldn’t fit into an audio-only experience
> - Introduce newcomers to the history surrounding the murder, including Bloody Sunday and the civil rights struggle
And is the product in this case an editorial story/article? First sentence suggests a "storytelling project":
> Hypothesis-Driven Design (or HDD for short) is a problem solving method that helps editorial teams take a user-centered and evidence-based approach to the discovery, design, and development of new storytelling projects.
I assume that means podcast/This American Life-style stories.
- What do Red and Blue America Have in Common? Craft Breweries and more: https://blog.apps.npr.org/2018/11/19/elex-18-districts.html
- Listeners' favorite albums: https://blog.apps.npr.org/2018/01/03/all-songs-considered-po...
- Visualization of redactions in the Mueller report: https://blog.apps.npr.org/2019/04/22/reading-between-redacti...
- Previously, on Arrested Development (an interactive database of AD's jokes and gags): https://apps.npr.org/arrested-development/
- Playgrounds for Everyone (a crowdsourced guide to accessible playgrounds): http://www.playgroundsforeveryone.com/
- Book Concierge (book recommendations): https://apps.npr.org/best-books-2018/
Probably not practical for NPR, but I’m going to try it out for my internal collection of projects.