Multimedia Production

A Communication & Journalism Course at the University of Wyoming

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Converting, Editing, and Sharing Audio Stories

Converting Audio

A lot of iPhones save the audio file as a “m4a” file.

A lot of Android phones save the audio file as a “3ga” file.

When you upload your audio file to SoundCloud, you may not need to convert your audio file to another format.

However, when you edit the file in Audacity, you will need to convert the file to a “wav” or “mp3” file. To do this, you can visit a popular audio conversion website: Zamzar (m4a to wav) or Zamzar (3ga to wav).

You can always Google for assistance, advice, or other questions. And, of course, you are free to ask me questions as well!

Editing Audio with Audacity

While you are free to edit your audio file in whatever audio-editing program that you want (e.g., Adobe Audition, Garage Band), most students use the free audio-editing program called Audacity. Audacity is installed on all of the student computer labs. It’s also free to download and use on your personal computer.

We will now jump over to Audacity and review the basic functions that you’ll need for this audio profile project.

Here’s a PowerPoint slide for reference as well: Audio-and-Audacity

Consider these audio editing suggestions.

  1. Decide how you want to organize your story before you begin editing; know what the beginning, middle, and end should be before you begin editing.
  2. The end should bring closure and finality to the interview topic. Don’t end with a statement that leads to more questions from the listener.
  3. Use the zoom feature extensively during your editing, it really helps get the cut to be as flawless as possible.
  4. There are two ways to edit audio: Build or destroy. To build while editing, take a blank audio track and then create an interview from the original. To destroy while editing, take the original interview and cut it down.
  5. While editing, write down the points in the track that you’re working on. That way when you go back and listen to it, you can listen for the cut/transition and move things around faster by referencing those breaks in your notes.
  6. Always save the original audio file separate from the file that you’re currently editing. Also consider saving “editions” of your audio file such that each audio editing session that you engage in is a unique file. That way, if you make a grievous error, then you can revert to the next most saved/updated/edited file.

Sharing Audio Stories with SoundCloud

In our unit on audio, you will use Soundcloud to share your audio files on your blog. Let’s register if you haven’t already.

 

Gathering Audio

Audio Interviewing Tips

Gathering audio that is clean, clear, and crisp is no easy task. This post outlines some hints for you to consider before you conduct audio interviews. It is developed from the hints listed on MediaStorm’s audio training page.

Know Your Equipment: Be comfortable operating your audio recorder. You should know where the buttons are without looking at it. You should know what all of the buttons do. If you’re uncomfortable with the audio recorder, your subject will be as well.

  • So, practice with your audio recorder, even if it’s just your phone, BEFORE your interview.
  • Also, be sure that you can confidently get the audio file from your phone to a computer and opened in Audacity. Practice now.

Location: Find a quiet location with little background noise. Find a spot with soft surfaces that absorb sound. A couch or fabric chair is better than a wooden chair. Cover a table with a blanket. A car with closed windows is a great location. Avoid hallways and large rooms that echo.

No Ambient Noise During Interview: While you do want to use ambient noise in your audio story, you don’t want the ambient noise to interfere with the person speaking to you. Avoid consistent background noise by picking a small quiet room with carpet and soft chairs. If using the TASCAM, try using the foam covering to see if it helps quiet ambient noise. You want to collect ambient noise separately and not fight it during the interview.

If Ambient Noise is Unavoidable: Press the record button before you begin the formal interview. Allow the recorder to collect the ambient noise without anyone’s voices interrupting the ambient noise. This gives you clean ambient noise to insert into any pauses during the editing process.

Get Close: Put the microphone about 2 inches away from the person’s mouth if you’re recording at a moderate “rec level” (about 5-7 on the TASCAM). You can put the microphone farther away if you’re recording at a higher “rec level” (about 9-10).

  • Remember though — when editing, it’s easier to bump up the volume than bump down the volume. Thus, err on the side of caution and do not record at a level that is TOO LOUD.

Use Headphones: Put your headphones into the headphone jack on your digital audio recorder. Hit the “record” button. Now ask the person to talk. Ensure that you can hear the person clearly. If you can’t hear them clearly, put the microphone closer to their mouth and/or increase the “rec level” to a higher sensitivity. Keep the headphones on your ears during the whole interview. You’ll know exactly how the person sounds the whole time.

Speak Up: Ask the person to speak up and speak louder if you can’t hear them properly and clearly when you have your headphones on.

Don’t Fidget: Do not fidget and play with the audio recorder while gathering sound. The audio recorder picks up the noise when you rub your hands on it. Avoid this by not fidgeting.

Focus: There’s many things to think about while conducting an audio interview. Can you hear them clearly? What are they saying? What’s my next question? Where is the interview going? How can I take the interview in a different direction or somewhere I hadn’t planned if they say something interesting?

If you go over or under 5 minutes, or if you aren’t happy with the 5-minute interview, then do it again! There is no penalty for doing the 5-minute interview multiple times. 

But Also Engage: Listen to the person. Make eye contact (don’t look at their mouth). Seem genuinely interested in their story. After they’re done speaking, stay in silence for a moment. They may add more detail to their thoughts.

Uh huh: Don’t do it. Avoid saying those filler words during an interview. You don’t want YOUR voice recorded when the person is talking. Instead, nod, smile, use eye contact, and lean forward to encourage the person.

Avoid Comment. Resist the urge provide in-depth responses or comments to your interviewee during and after everything he/she says–that means more editing for yourself or not being able to use the audio at all.

Pause. During the audio interview, leave a brief pause after the interviewee finishes answering a question and before you begin your next question. Giving more pause will leave you more room for editing.

Ask Explanation-Needed Questions: Don’t just ask, “How old were you when you first realized you wanted to be a journalist?” You’ll get the answer, “I few years ago.” Ask questions that need more explanation, “What inspired you to become a journalist and when did you make this decision in your life?”

I can’t emphasize this enough: Request that the interviewee always answers in complete sentences that clearly address the question, not short phrases that may need a narrator’s explanation. 

If your interviewee answers your question with: “yeah, it was great,” then I suggest you ask the question again and ask them to answer in complete sentences like: “yeah, the experience of studying abroad was great.”

Ask Again: Don’t be afraid to ask “Why?;” “Please explain that more in-depth.” “Please say that again, I didn’t quite understand the first time.”

Ask Sensory Questions (if relevant): “Tell me about…”; “What did it sound like when…”; “How did it feel when…”; “What did it smell like…”; “What did it look like when…”; “Describe the scene for me.”

Last Question (if you need to fill time to reach 5 minutes): Ask, “Is there anything else I should have asked? Is there anything else you want me to know?”

Practice Audio Recording with Your Device

There is no better way to learn audio reporting than by trying it out for yourself!

Let’s practice audio recording and getting the audio files off our devices and onto the computer. If you don’t have an audio file on your phone already, then go ahead and record yourself counting to 10. Then, move the file to your computer.  Can you open it in Audacity? Or, do you need to convert the file? Google your questions about your specific phone or device.

The biggest complaint that students have about the audio unit is having trouble getting the audio off their device and onto the computer in a workable file format. So, it’s best if you figure this out BEFORE you use your phone for your audio interview.

Audio Storytelling & Audio Profile Project

A few announcements first…

  1. The due date for the audio profile assignment is now after spring break — Fri. March 23.
  2. There is a Quiz 2 on audio next week, unless you are traveling for university-related events and then the Quiz 2 will be on this Friday.
  3. AAron Ontiveroz will be here next Monday (March 5). 
  4. We will do a Google Maps component to our Information Graphics unit.
  5. Please take the very short 5-minute or less survey for Dan Petty’s lecture on Google Maps and Tools. Go ahead, do it right now. I’ll wait.

Journalism oftentimes gives a voice to the voiceless. With audio journalism, 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 storytelling.

Note that for the upcoming audio assignment, you will interview someone for 5 minutes and then edit the audio to 2 minutes. This assignment is designed to introduce you to:

  1. The planning and forethought that go into audio stories
  2. The technical and editing skills that go into audio stories
  3. The storytelling and narrative skills that go into audio stories

Story Corps

Story Corps is one example of powerful audio storytelling from everyday people. Let’s watch the introduction video on this page.

Let’s listen to some stories that you could use for inspiration.

William Lynn Weaver

Amy Sherald and Elise Pepple

Check out other stories as well.


National Public Radio

NPR provides the best audio journalism in the United States. Here’s an example of their reporting. Notice the journalist’s narration, the sources’ quotes, and the audio of specific examples relevant to the story.

First though, let’s read the print story. Then, we’ll listen to the audio story. We’ll compare the stories and discuss the differences as well as the similarities.

What feels different about the audio vs. text versions?

What do you like and dislike about the different versions?

What are the audio version’s strengths and weaknesses? What are the text version’s strengths and weaknesses?


Podcasting

Podcasts are also increasingly important for journalists and communicators to grow an audience and a brand. Let’s read a primer about podcasting and journalism.

You can also find advice about journalism itself on podcasts.

Advertisers and public relations professionals have also noticed that podcasts provide an opportunity for trusted podcast hosts to pitch products and services.

Let’s take a look at Pew Research Center data on Audio and Podcasting.

Do you have a favorite podcast?

If you’ve never listened to a podcast, here are some to search: NPR Podcast Directory, Wyoming Public Radio Podcasts, and iTunes.

My personal favorites are:


Audio Profile Project

Please download the instructions for Blog Post 4 – Audio Profile (Raw and Edited) and we’ll review what you’ll be accomplishing with audio!

Also, let’s listen to a student example of a raw interview and then the edited interview (Nicholas Robinson interviewing Jordan Blazovich).

Here’s one more example of a raw interview and the final interview (Acadia Munari interviewing Jeremy Vincent).

 

Quiz 1 and Brainstorming Session

Go to WyoCourses to take Quiz 1.

After the quiz, we will have a brainstorming session.

Photojournalism Basics

Purpose and Power of Visuals

Photojournalism is our window to the world around us. A picture is worth a 1,000 words.

The purpose of photojournalism is to capture the people and events that make the news. Photojournalism can supplement a text story or can serve as a stand-alone story.

We remember news stories in images because they are powerful and emotional.

Photographers have the power to frame the narrative surrounding complex issues, people, current events, and more. The media has a lot of control and influence over what issues the public discusses and how the public visualizes these issues.

For example, research shows that if we can more easily visualize a particular risk, then we are more likely to over-estimate the chance of that risk materializing in our own lives. Is it easier to visualize a terrorist attack or cardiovascular disease? Because it’s easier to visualize a terrorist attack, we tend to over-estimate this risk compared to the cardiovascular disease risk. And this impacts what our nation, politicians, and society focuses on in terms of money, resources, and attention.

Bottom line: Visuals are powerful.

Categories of Photojournalism

The following categories are defined by the National Press Photographer’s Association (NPPA) and included in the Best of Photography competitions. The College Photographer of the Year (CPOY) Awards also use these categories.

Feature (Enterprise): A photograph of a ‘found situation’ that features strong human interest elements, or a fresh view of an everyday scene. A picture that uses humor or focuses on the lighter side of life is well suited for this category. Examples

Portrait: A single photograph that captures a unique aspect of a local figure’s character and personality. Examples

Sports Action: A peak action picture that captures the spirit of a sports competition—either on the part of an individual or an athletic team. Examples

Sports Feature: A sports-related feature picture that depicts the jubilation of victory or the agony of defeat. The event covered should be separate from the game action or outside of the field of play. Examples

General News: Recognizing that much of the daily news coverage is planned in advance, we seek to reward outstanding achievement based on creativity and timing at organized events such as general meetings, promotional events and staged coverage opportunities. Examples

Spot News: An event that is not planned, so the photographer must react on instinct and news judgment. This picture may be of a breaking news event, or a part of issue coverage. Examples

Domestic Picture Story: This is a series of photographs surrounding the same event, person, or idea. The photographs tell a story with detailed paragraph-length captions and powerful photos. These photo stories have even more power to influence the frame, perspective, and tone applied to the event, person, or idea. As we look at these examples, think about an alternative frame, perspective, or tone that could be applied to these examples and become equally as powerful. Example 1 and Example 2

Photojournalism Tips

The creative devices tips still apply to photojournalism. Other helpful hints are found below.

  1. Have a working camera with you at all times. Even a smartphone is acceptable.
  2. Have one clear subject in your photo. The subject should be in focus and stand out from everything else in the photo. A street is not a subject. Seven people walking down the sidewalk is not a subject. One person walking down the street is a subject. Note: This rule is sometimes meant to be broken. You can take great photos of a mass crowd or a group of people, however, more skill is required. It’s easier to stick with the rules as you’re learning. Then, break them later when you know what you’re doing more.
  3. Take a lot of photos. For every subject, take 10 photos. **I can’t emphasize this enough. Move around and take a lot of photos!**
  4. Act natural. Make yourself comfortable and invisible.
  5. Move around without violating Tip 4.
  6. Place subjects so that they are moving or looking into the photo, rather than out of it. For example, if a person is pointing to the right, be sure he is at the left of your photo.
  7. Keep the light behind you so the subject’s face is lit (unless deliberately creating a shadow out of the subject).
  8. Avoid using the flash as much as possible. Use natural light.
  9. If you’re shooting sports action, then avoid evening or low-light conditions (the photos will be blurry)!
  10. Be aware of the background. Make sure there are no trees or objects protruding from your subject’s head or limbs. And, make sure there are no photobombs.

Ethics

According to the President Emeritus of the NPPA Alicia Wagner Calzada, photojournalists must live up to a high standard because ethics are “what sets us apart from art and advertising.”

She notes that when journalists are reporting, they should not cave-in to pressure from people who ask, “what do you want me to do?” Journalists should instruct people to continue their behavior as if they were not present.

Photojournalism is capturing history the way that the stories actually unfolded. You are telling the story with images. You are not supposed to manipulate the story. These are reasons why there is a code of ethics.

Copied from the NPPA Code of Ethics

  1. Be accurate and comprehensive in the representation of subjects.
  2. Resist being manipulated by staged photo opportunities.
  3. Be complete and provide context when photographing or recording subjects. Avoid stereotyping individuals and groups. Recognize and work to avoid presenting one’s own biases in the work.
  4. Treat all subjects with respect and dignity. Give special consideration to vulnerable subjects and compassion to victims of crime or tragedy. Intrude on private moments of grief only when the public has an overriding and justifiable need to see.
  5. While photographing subjects do not intentionally contribute to, alter, or seek to alter or influence events.
  6. Editing should maintain the integrity of the photographic images’ content and context. Do not manipulate images or add or alter sound in any way that can mislead viewers or misrepresent subjects.
  7. Do not pay sources or subjects or reward them materially for information or participation.
  8. Do not accept gifts, favors, or compensation from those who might seek to influence coverage.
  9. Do not intentionally sabotage the efforts of other journalists.

Breaking Ethics Codes

Following ethics codes is about establishing and maintaining the trust of our audience. The cases below illustrate when that trust was broken.

  1. Brian Walski from the LA Times combined two photos to create a more aggressive and confrontational presentation of the situation.
  2. Time magazine made OJ Simpson look more sinister by manipulating the color, burning the corners and shrinking the prisoner ID number on his mugshot. Newsweek did not alter the photo.
  3. Klavs Bo Christensen, a Danish photojournalist, was disqualified from a photo competition because of using too much color saturation.
    denmark_contest_images
  4. Read thoughts from photographers about manipulation, staging, and excessive digital editing of photographs.

Basics of Photography

dslr-camera

While it is great to use a DSLR camera because they produce high-quality photos, you can still capture great photos using your smartphone or point-and-shoot camera.

For the next two weeks, we’ll be working on photography and photojournalism. While it is great to have an expensive digital single lens reflex (DSLR) camera, it is not necessary for this class. We can still take great photos with our smartphones and point-and-shoot cameras.

First things first, we’ll learn about the basics of photography and forever-useful creative devices.

Creative Devices for Composition

Good photojournalism begins with understanding basic composition and design principles. Here’s some easy ways to improve your shots.

Steady Does It: Hold the camera steady by digging your elbows into your chest, placing your elbows on something, using two hands, or leaning against a wall.

Move Around and Get Closer: You need to constantly be moving around to get a variety of good shots. Go on your stomach, your knees, a ladder, or chair. Change your position and your angle. Don’t be afraid to get very close to your subjects.

photographer_laying

Move around to get different angles and perspectives.

Use Vertical Shots: Don’t always shoot horizontals, be sure you use vertical shots as well.

Pick A Focal Point: The automatic focus on point-and-shoot does a good job at focusing on what you desire, but it is sometimes limiting to work with. So, when you want to focus on something very close and want to blur the background, you can use the “macro” function on your camera (if it has one).

Light: Natural light provided by the sun is the best light to shoot in. If there is bright sunlight and you’re shooting people who are facing the sun, they may squint and shadows may be cast on their faces. Be sure to avoid those shadows by moving around to find the best angle. If there is bright sunlight and people have the sun behind them, their faces will be dark. You can compensate by using a flash. Noon and mid-day sunlight is typically bad sunlight for photography. Sunrise and sunset light is better. But, partly sunny days provide the best light because it is much softer on skin.

shooting_into_the_sun

Shooting into the sun will create shadows on your subjects. This creates interesting contrast. Alternatively, you could use a flash in order to provide some lighting on your subjects.

Now for the Top Composition Tips as outlined by Photography Mad, as well as a few more suggestions of my own. Some of these are also mentioned in Ch. 7 in the book as well.

  1. Rule of Thirds: Example
  2. Balancing Elements: Example
  3. Leading Lines: Example
  4. Symmetry and Patterns: Example
  5. Viewpoint: Example
  6. Background: Example
  7. Create Depth: Example
  8. Framing: Example
  9. Cropping (Note: This does not refer to cropping in Photoshop; this refers to compositional cropping when you take the photo): Example
  10. Color: Example
  11. Texture: Example
  12. Establishing Size: Example
  13. Contrast: Example
  14. Focus: Example

Active Learning Activity

Get into a group of 2-3 students.

Review the The New York Times Lens photography blog.

Talk about each photo that you examine in terms of the creative devices used in the photo.

Discuss how the photographer may have captured this photo. What were the potential challenges in capturing the photo?

Discuss the messages that the photograph is communicating. If a “picture is worth a thousands words”, then what words are being communicated? –> We will talk more about this in Wednesday’s class.

A note about your rights and duties as a photographer.

  1. In public, you can photograph anyone or anything. If they approach you and request you don’t take their picture, you may respect their request; but, keep in mind that they are in public and they cannot expect any privacy in public (i.e., you can keep taking their picture).
  2. In private residences, businesses, and property, you should get permission. They may not allow photography. **You can always ask for forgiveness rather than permission, though.**
  3. If people ask why you’re taking photos, explain it is for your class blog and schoolwork.

Writing Captions

If you shoot people, then get names and put them in captions. [Many students neglect this. You NEED names. Unless the person is too far away or completely unrecognizable in the photo.]

A well-written caption adds value and context to the image instead of merely describing the contents of the photo. Consider including information that goes beyond the obvious.

If you capture an event, then who are the key players in the photo and event? When was the event held? What was the purpose of the event? Where was the event held? Why should the viewer care?

If you capture a portrait or photo of a person, tell the viewer more about the person or context of the photo.

(Example of a caption with a person in the photo) Kristen Landreville teaches the Multimedia Production class at the University of Wyoming on Monday morning. She is a professor of communication and journalism and is in her eighth year at UW.

(Example of a caption without a person in the photo) New fallen snow shimmers on the frozen ground of Prexy’s Pasture on Monday. This February has been one of the warmest on recent record, according to the National Weather Service.

Blog Post #3: Digital Photography Assignment

Blog Post 3 – Digital Photography

Frontiers Magazine Opportunities

Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Courtney Kudera and I am the new Editor-in-Chief of Frontiers magazine published by student media. This year’s theme is ‘Bridging the Gap’. I hope to encompass all lovers of the outdoors in this semesters magazine, from hunters to hikers, and landowners to naturalists. I want this year’s magazine to be a home for all, including some creative pieces.

Currently, Frontiers Magazine is searching for creators and outdoor enthusiasts to be editors, writers, photographers, and artists for the magazine.

If you are interested, there will be an informational meeting next Tuesday, the 13th, at 6:30 in the Beta House. There will be free pizza and all the details about the magazine. Please feel free to contact me with any questions at ckudera@uwyo.edu.

Hope to see you Tuesday!

Photography Opportunity: Larsh Bristol Fellowship

The Department of Communication & Journalism seeks proposals from students for a $5,000 stipend for a photojournalism project called the Larsh Bristol Photojournalism Fellowship.

The stipend will be awarded through a competitive process that is open to all students at UW. The guidelines for the proposals are quite broad because the benefactors who endowed the fund wish to be able to attract proposals that will include a diversity of interests.

The stipend is funded in the memory of Larsh Bristol. Bristol was a UW graduate in journalism who worked at a number of Wyoming newspapers after graduation before finally settling in his home area of Northeast Iowa. He earned a strong reputation for chronicling life along the upper Mississippi and for his photographic portrayals of human emotion.

For his project, the first recipient of the award, Joe Riis, documented the migration of pronghorn in Wyoming. He is now a contributing photographer for National Geographic and photography fellow at the Wyoming Migration Initiative.

Following Bristol’s interest in Photojournalism, the basic guidelines for the project are:

  1. The project must focus on some aspect of photojournalism, whether it be a documentary, a research study, a compilation, etc. The project must culminate in a gallery show at its conclusion.
  2. The project should take place between Summer 2018 and Spring 2019. Ideally the project will be a one-semester endeavor, but it can span more than one semester. (Also, see bold statement at the end of the call).
  3. All UW students—both undergraduate and graduate—are eligible.
  4. The stipend can be used for a wide variety of purposes including tuition, travel, equipment, living expenses, etc
  5. All proposals will be judged in a competitive process, and the recipient of the award will be notified in April. The recipient will be recognized at an awards banquet in May.

The deadline for proposals is March 21, 2018. Proposals should be submitted to Cindy Price Schultz, Dept. of Communication & Journalism, University of Wyoming. All photos and text that are submitted must be hard copies. Electronic submissions will not be accepted. Proposals should include the following:

  1. A one- to two-page description of the project.

 

  1. A budget that provides some indication of how the funds will be used.

 

  1. A description of the type of work that will be displayed at the gallery show upon culmination of the project.

 

  1. Samples of the applicant’s photographic work are not required, but they are useful for the judges in the selection process.

 

For more information, contact Price Schultz at cprice@uwyo.edu.

 

BECAUSE THIS IS THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE AWARD, A MEMORIAL BANQUET IS BEING PLANNED TO RECOGNIZE ALL FORMER AND CURRENT WINNERS IN FALL 2018. THEREFORE, PROPOSALS THAT WILL BE COMPLETED IN SUMMER 2018 WILL BE GIVEN PRIORITY FOR SELECTION.

Journalism for the Web

What did you learn from Kristine Galloway, Reporter at the Wyoming Tribune Eagle?

Back to learning how to write for the web…

What Should I Do When I Interview Someone?

  1. First, realize that your interviews are essential to the story. Without strong interviews, you got nothing!
  2. 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.
  3. Write your questions by hand: You remember things more when you hand-write vs. type. The questions will stick more if you hand-write them.
  4. 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 clam rather than accusatory, aggressive, or a know-it-all.
  5. Make small talk before the interview. It relaxes you and the interviewee. Talk about the weather, their office, the location of the interview, etc.
  6. Voice recording. Ask permission to record the interview, if you want to.
  7. But ALWAYS TAKE NOTES! Even if you’re recording the interviewee, you must take notes. You will remember the conversation better and also know where particular points were made in the conversation.
  8. Begin with a softball. Begin the interview with a softball question that you may not care too much about. This will relax the interviewee and yourself.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Don’t be afraid to ask follow-up questions. You want to understand the interviewee and the story well. You want to clarify things so you can clearly explain things to your audience.
  13. Ask the “do you have anything else to add before we finish” question. You never know what helpful information will come out!
  14. Allow silence. Silence is awkward. People fill silence with additional banter. It may be helpful banter for your story.
  15. 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.
  16. Also during the interview…Watch, look, and listen to the environment around you –> Reporters and storytellers are excellent observers and listeners. They are socially aware.
  17. Any other suggestions from you and your classmates?

What Tips Do You Have For Writing A Story?

  1. Write for the specific story angle, not the general story topic.
  2. Make it clear why the audience should care early in the story.
  3. Write a strong lead to pull readers in. Then expand on the lead in the rest of the story.
  4. Set the scene early in the story. Use anecdotes (short stories from your sources).
  5. In the middle, thoroughly explain the issues. Keep emphasizing the importance, so what, and impact of the story.
  6. Stick to facts as much as possible. If opinion is in your story, it should be your sources’ opinions, not your’s.
  7. Write with active, descriptive verbs whenever possible. Good example: Dr. Landreville teaches tomorrow. Bad example: Dr. Landreville is going to teach tomorrow.
  8. Save the most interesting and descriptive quotes for direct quotes in your story. Direct quotes that merely state simple facts, that are poorly worded, or that are boring are not helpful. Paraphrase that information.
  9. Let the subjects speak. We want to hear what the sources, not the reporter, have to say about this story. Facilitate this connection between the subjects and the audience by using a lot of quotes and descriptions (or if a visual presentation, showing the subjects).
  10. Transition well. Avoid jumping around. Avoid incomplete thoughts and unclear associations of story elements.
  11. Proofread! Be your own editor. Cut unnecessary words. Use the active voice. Clean up comma errors. Correct misspellings. Keep an eye out for grammar errors (e.g., its/it’s).
  12. Close the story with a resolution by saying what’s next or summarizing the outcome or providing an interesting or strong quote.

OK, OK, you now have those tips drilled into your head. What’s next to know about writing for multiple platforms? Well, it’s important to understand reading trends.

What kind of readers are out there?

There are three types of readers. You need to write for all three in a story.

  1. Comprehensive readers (read the whole story)
  2. Samplers (read the lead and parts of a story before quickly moving on)
  3. Scanners (read headlines, labels, captions, fact boxes, graphics, and other quick reads)

How should I write for all three types of online readers?

  • Online reading is 25% slower than print reading.
  • We scan more online.
  • We construct our own nonlinear reading experience online.
  • Thus, you need to use concise, informative headlines, summaries, and hyperlinks to more resources about the story.
  • Each paragraph should have no more than 2 or 3 short, simple sentences.
  • A direct quote should stand out in its own paragraph. Do not bury direct quotes in the middle of a paragraph!
  • Attribution side note. Good Example: “Attribute correctly,” said Dr. Landreville. Bad example: Dr. Landreville said, “Attribute correctly.”
  • Use subheadings in your story –> Otherwise known as “chunk” titles.
  • Bold the chunk titles.

Checklist for Blog Post 2: Review the Assignment Guidelines!

Keep your mind on these requirements and best practices while reporting and writing:

  1. Number of Interviews (3 minimum, face-to-face, unless otherwise given permission)
  2.  Minimum of two relevant photos (if not your photography, then attribute to the photographer)
  3. Two relevant links (at minimum)
  4. Story Structure
    1. Appropriate headline
    2. Sentence length.
    3. Paragraph length.
    4. Reporter presence and voice.
    5. Use of bolded chunk titles.
    6. Transitions between ideas.
    7. Minimum of 750 words. Maximum of 850 words.
  5. Attribution and Quotes
    1. Paraphrased information vs. directly quoted information.
    2. Location of direct quotes (should be at the beginning of paragraphs)
    3. Frequency of direct quotes (every few paragraphs)

The Next Two Classes…

We will be writing our stories and peer editing our stories. Ideally, you would use class time on Wed. Feb. 7 and Fri. Feb. 9 for finishing writing your story, with having questions prepared for me. You shouldn’t be just starting to write your story on Mon. Feb. 5. Make the most of your time with these in-class workdays and be prepared.

Have a draft ready for Wed. Feb. 7 at 9 a.m. We will be peer editing each other’s work.

As always, ask questions if you have anything that you’re confused about or not sure what to do. Best of luck!

Brainstorming Session

I will spend a few minutes speaking with you about your story angles and sources.

If you have a concrete angle and sources that you want to pitch, please write your name on the board.

If you don’t have a concrete angle that you want to pitch yet, then please use this time to really focus and brainstorm on a good angle and sources.

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