Poynter’s News University: Telling Stories with Sound

Audio journalism is a lot like print journalism, the only difference is that it uses sounds to create the story. Have you ever been watching a scary movie, and it comes to that point when you know something bad is going to happen and the music changes to something slow and scary and it might pause for dramatic effect; well sounds can create a mode or tone for a news piece as well.

Poynter’s News University has several applications to learn about different journalistic approaches, one of course being Telling Stories with Sound. As a senior in college I have never taken a formal class on audio storytelling, so all of this information was new and exciting.

Like print journalism, planning and executing time needs to be carefully organized. Sometimes in audio reporting you need to be a little more attention to detail in that in print you can see things, but in audio you need to visually create those through words and sounds. There were several important tips that the course emphasized repeatedly:

  • Ask interviewees to be as descriptive as possible to paint the story for listeners
  •  Record sounds prior to interview and day of
  • Set up microphones well in advance to interview to get accurate and clear recording

Audio reporting, like all forms of journalism, need to be careful in making sure the story is told in an unbiased, accurate manner but in audio with an emphasis on sounds and making sure sounds are not represented.

Print journalism calls for a professional, tell the facts manner while audio reporting is based on a conversational tone to engage the listener through music, sound bites and other voice overs.

Examples and Importance of Audio Journalism 

For 41 years National Public Radio  (NPR) has been sharingthe news through sound-bites. Yesterday on the NPR program ‘All Things Considered’ the story of a recent deceased convicted Nazi camp guard, John Demjanjuk was presented. During this presentation you can hear several techniques used that was described in the course.

During the beginning you can hear what is ambient noise, the natural buzz of the surroundings.

This clip also uses different sound-bytes from interviews to add to the story and to help show different views about this particular person.

As a college student, we are encouraged to blog or find creative ways to journal. Audio journalism does not always mean that you will produce for the radio, this medium can also be produced into podcasts.

In 2011 a BBC report examined the general thoughts on podcasting and the importance that it could have as an impact on one’s career.

“Podcasting is the best way to showcase your talent, especially with commercial radio running out of space for personality.”

So maybe if you are not interested in writing newstories and are better conveying the news through words maybe you will be interested in creating podcasts for media outlets.

I know I like talking a lot more than writing.



One thought on “Poynter’s News University: Telling Stories with Sound

  1. Jessy: What wonderful examples you provided. I saved both of them and will incorporate them into my line-up from now on. Thanks. +10/10

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