Chapter 7: Making audio journalism visible

Summary: Audio can just be as compelling as video or photos in online journalism. Tone can convey emotions, and sound can be layered on top of a visual medium to effectively tell a story. Being able to capture, edit and broadcast an audio file should be in the tool box of any online journalist. If it isn’t, then one should learn how.

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What audio journalism is important

  • Presence: A journalist can bring a listener to the location by capturing the right sound.
  • Emotions: Tone, intonation and pauses can enhance the message, or can say more than what is being said.
  • Atmosphere: Natural sound or ambient noise can paint an audio picture for the listener.

How news organizations use audio

NPR has set the standard when it comes to audio journalism. Seeking that “driveway moment” the intimacy  and engagement their reporters form with their interviewees can compel a person to sit in their car after they arrive to their destination to hear the rest of the segment. For the online journalists who are not able to broadcast their own stories over the radio, other options are available.

  • Reporter overview: A quick, simple audio overview of a story
  • Podcasts: An episodic medium comprised of numerous recorded segments that can be downloaded and heard.
  • Audio slideshow: Make your slideshow richer by accompanying it with an audio track.
  • Breaking news: Utterli.com offers reporters a forum to publish a quick audio report through their mobile phones.

Gearing up, choose a digital recorder

A digital recorder is a convenient and necessary tool for audio journalism. You can also make audio segments with your computer if you have the write program and an external microphone. Just remember:

  • Formats: Audio files can be recorded in .mp3, .wav or .wma formats. Mp3s are the most common and can be read by virtually all media players, but are compressed files which may affect quality. WAV files are uncompressed and have better quality, but the files may become too large which may make it difficult to upload.
  • Input/microphone level: The best setting is 70 percent of the total audio level.
  • File name: Keep yourself organized by properly labeling your audio files.

Editing audio files

There are a variety of programs that offer the ability to edit audio files. Audacity is a free download-able software for audio-editing. Learn how to edit sound files with audacity.



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