HSI, Day 3: Role & Impact of News Media, Interviewing Skills, & Audio

Class Discussion & Blog Post: The Responsibility and Role of the News Media

Our opening discussion today involves critically thinking about the news media, which some of you may have done in your first blog post. Let’s consider these questions:

  • What is news to you?
    • What is NOT news to you?
    • What do you think about cable news vs. network news?
    • What about bloggers vs. journalists?
    • What about comedic news vs. traditional news?
  • The 4th Estate: How is news related to democracy?
    • What responsibility does the news media have to educate and inform the public?
    • Can you think of an example where the news media did not do a good job at informing the public?
    • What is more important: Freedom of the news media and self-expression? Or protecting sensitive or important government information?

— My Thoughts —
News has the following qualities:

  1. Impact: Who cares?
  2. Prominence: Names make news
  3. Proximity: Local angles, geographic or emotionally close
  4. Timeliness: The newness
  5. Conflict: The drama
  6. Novelty: Bizarre, rare, or strange activities

— Activity —

Go to CNN.com. What is the main story? What news and storytelling values does the main story reflect?

Review of Interview Questions

Let’s take some time here for me to answer any questions about your potential interview questions.

What Should I Do When I Interview Someone?

  1. Be prepared: Inform yourself about the topic, source, and/or interviewee. Do some background research on the story and educate yourself. Informed questions are the best questions.
  2. Practice your interview questions beforehand if you’re nervous or want to feel better-prepared going into the interview. It never hurts to practice. And practice being curious-sounding, professional, and calm rather than accusatory, aggressive, or a know-it-all.
  3. Make small talk before the interview. It relaxes you and the interviewee. And begin the interview with a softball question that you may not care too much about. This will relax the interviewee and yourself.
  4. Keep it conversational. Don’t ask one question after another with no casual feedback and discussion. You want to have a give-and-take, turn-taking conversation, rather than a firing-squad style conversation.
  5. Listen. Really listen to your interviewee talking as you take notes. Think about if you have any follow-up questions about their statements. If you don’t, then move on to the next prepared question.
  6. Prepare a basic outline of questions, but avoid reading them word-for-word. Again, you want to know your questions enough to ask them in a casual way to your interviewee. And you want to ask them when it’s appropriate to in the conversation.
  7. Don’t be afraid to ask follow-up questions and the “do you have anything else to add before we finish” question. You want to understand the interviewee and the story well. You want to clarify things so you can clearly explain things to your audience.
  8. Allow silence. Silence is awkward. People fill silence with additional banter. It may be helpful banter for your story.
  9. Make eye contact, smile, and nod to show your interest. Try not to make the “uh huh” and “go on” noises. This is a bad habit and will ruin audio interviews if you engage in those behaviors.
  10. Any other suggestions from you and your classmates?

Audio Personality Profiles — Inspiration For Your Work

For your personality profile, I want you to record your interview so you can build a short audio clip (30 seconds to 1 minute). Your voice should not appear on the audio clip that you build. It will consist of your partner talking about themselves. Ultimately, you will post your short audio clip of your partner on your blog post with your personality profile.

With audio profiles, you can hear the emotion, hear the ambient sounds, and hear the expressions of your sources. Now, we can do audio journalism online and not just on the radio. Before we learn about the logistics of audio, it is important to first understand what makes excellent audio profiles. Here are some examples.

One in 8 Million – A New York Times audio slideshow about a few of the 8 million people living in the New York City region. Let’s listen to one teenager mother’s story. What did you like and dislike about the story? Could this story be told better with any other style or method?

Working With Your Audio Recorder

Before you interview your partner, it’s important to know how to record your interview. You won’t be able to write EVERYTHING down while you take notes during the interview. Thus, let’s get to know our audio recorder now and practice working with it.

— Activity: Audio Recorder Practice —

  1. Record Yourself
  2. Transfer File To Your Computer
  3. Open in Audacity (free sound editing program) on the Lab Computers
  4. If an m4a file (on the iPhone) or another file that Audacity won’t open, then download this zipped file.
  5. Listen for my instructions about unzipping the folder and opening your file in Audacity now.

Audacity Basics

Now that we have a file imported into Audacity, let’s see how we can edit sound.

The most important tools are: Cut, Paste, Zoom, and Envelope. Adding a new track is also important.

Here is a PowerPoint slide of Audacity tools, if you would like to learn more.

We will play with Audacity the remainder of class.

About The Author

I'm a faculty member in Communication & Journalism at the University of Wyoming. At UW, I have taught online journalism, advanced new media, introduction to mass media, politics and media, and alternative media. At Ohio State, where I got my PhD, I taught research methods, news reporting and writing, visual communication, and persuasion. My reserach focuses on political communication, emerging media platforms, and entertainment media. In my spare time, I love to play with my daughters, hang out with my family, cook, hike, jog, read, and blog.

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