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How we updated our teen birth rate feature

In early July, I started working on what I thought would be a story explaining why teen births had declined so steeply since 2007. It didn't exactly work out that way.

The researchers interviewed all agreed that the decline was giant: teen births fell 37 percent between 2007 and 2012. What they hadn't figured out was why. Nobody knew what particular change or policy had catalyzed such a massive drop.

My story had to change. Instead of writing an article explaining why teen births had fallen, I wrote a lengthy piece exploring the various theories on the topic — and why, all of them, in one way or another, fell short of offering a satisfying explanation.

Today, my story is changing again. Since it ran on August 20, I have received dozens of emails from readers and researchers suggesting theories I hadn't covered. The decline might be caused by the rise of the internet, parents' of teens glued to their iPhones wrote. Many Twitter followers pointed the over-the-counter availability of emergency contraceptives as another possible explanation.

I initially wrote a separate story, a few days later, exploring these suggestions. But other editors here had a better idea: why not incorporate these new theories into an updated version of the original piece? If readers wanted to learn about the teen birth decline, it made the most sense to have all the theories in one place.

That's what we're doing today. I've worked with our features editor Eleanor Barkhorn to update the teen birth rate story to include three new theories. The hope is to make this one story the best resource for our readers to explore a complex subject, rather than having to hop around to separate pages.

Here at Vox, we see our stories as living documents. We update our card stacks, for example, to reflect the most recent news developments. We write explainers that grow as information about a breaking news event becomes available. These additions to my teen birth rate story aim to do something similar: bring the most context and information we can to a complex subject.

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