Take-Home Audio Gathering Exercise


The ultimate goal of our two-part audio gathering/editing lab exercise is to produce a short audio clip of 30 to 45 seconds that tells a coherent story. Here’s an example from Digital Journalism alum Laura Rowe, who visited an SMU isotope lab:

And just to show y’all that even old fogies can do this, here are two more example audio labs completed by two of your favorite professors:

Batsell — The Fountain on a Late Winter Day

Suhler — E-mailing: The Scourge of the 21st Century

Two more examples (to be explained further in class):

From these examples, you can see that you will need 1) NAT SOUND; 2) VO and 3) a short INTERVIEW describing the sound (preferably with someone you don’t know).

Save your three (SHORT) raw audio files on your computer or an external drive and post them individually to SoundCloud. On Thursday, bring your raw files to class. You’ll use GarageBand to edit your three clips into an NPR-worthy masterpiece!

P.S. Looking for some tips on voiceovers? Here’s a great tutorial from the Knight Digital Media Center.

The Power of Multimedia Storytelling


For class on Thursday, Oct. 16, read the “Drilling Down” boxes in the Briggs book on pages 148 and 164, as well as the “Newsroom Innovator” profile of MSNBC.com’s Stokes Young on pages 168-169. Then watch this four-minute audio slideshow by The Washington Post, “No Greater Love.” (From the main project page, click the first of the three slideshows — it’s the one on the left. You may need to update your computer’s Flash plugin.)

Also, if you are intrigued to learn more about this story after watching the slideshow, read photographer Carol Guzy’s accompanying epilogue about her experience reporting this story over several years.

Stokes Young says the promise of multimedia storytelling is to provide what he calls an “immersive experience: bringing the story to viewers through multiple senses and, hopefully, bringing viewers into stories — the experiences of other folks — in ways that increase understanding.”

By 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 15 leave a comment on this post (worth 5 class participation points) answering one of these questions:

  • Did “No Greater Love” deliver an “immersive experience” and, if so, how?
  • Would this story have been more or less powerful if told through video rather than through sound and still images?
  • Would this story have been more or less powerful if it used voiceover from the journalist, rather than relying entirely on sources for narration?

Playlist Team: The Headliners

By Amelia Hollow, Alexa Malevitis, Shannon Lynch, Adam Grosbard and Alexandra Spitzer

  1. Attorney General Greg Abbott reports fundraising figures that dwarf those of his opponent Democratic Senator Wendy Davis. She could use a dollar to keep up in this race.
  2. Loving County officials recently met with water company leaders to discuss how the West Texas county can meet its growing water needs. 
  3. Texas churches are being asked to open their places of worship to offer sanctuary for undocumented immigrants. Listen to “That’s Right (You’re Not From Texas)” by Lyle Lovett.
  4. Texas A&M researchers are crashing trucks into steel barriers in an effort to keep terrorist from breaching security barriers. Listen to “Always Crashing in the Same Car” by David Bowie.
  5. After the U.S. Supreme Court lifted same-sex marriage bans in five states, Senator Ted Cruz called for an amendment of the Constitution on Monday to prevent the federal government and Supreme Court from overturning a state’s ban on same-sex marriage.  We thought “Take Me to Church” by Hozier was fitting in regard to Cruz’s defense of same-sex marriage bans.
  6. Texas women are turning to their doctors as the number of state abortion clinics is on the “Slide” (by the Goo Goo Dolls).
  7. The song, “Bad Blood,” by Bastille refers to the rise in the number of people who are being closely monitored for a possible contraction of the Ebola virus.
  8. Colin McDonald travels along the disappearing Rio Grande where people are fighting and killing over remaining water. McDonald notes “but the rain brings the good times,” so take a listen to “Bring on the Rain” by Jo Dee Messina.
  9. Texas was in the running to house the Tesla “gigafactory”, but lost out to Nevada. It turns out Texas was wrong about the prospects of a relationship with the factory.
  10. Tuition is on the rise and fewer than a third of public university students are graduating in four years. Although the debate is ongoing over plans for new fixed tuition rates, efforts are being made to keep costs low and get students out of college while they’re still “Younger”.

Playlist Team: Batsell’s Beats

By Daniela Huebner (@danielahuebner), Adriana Fernandez (@adrianaf92), Scott Sanford (@ScottSanford67), Lee Gleiser (@LeeGleiser1) and Campbell Flemmons (@CampbellMcCall).

We’re starting off our playlist with 50 Cent’s “I Got Money,” which is probably what Attorney General Greg Abbott is saying to Sen. Wendy Davis, his Democratic opponent in the Texas Governor’s Race. Over the last three months, Abbott has raised roughly $3.6 million for his campaign, crushing Davis’s figures.


Our next song has to do with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to lift same-sex marriage bans in five states, and Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s controversial comments. Here’s “Same Love” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, featuring Mary Lambert.

An investigation into Sen. Wendy Davis’s law firm regarding corruption wrapped up without finding an issue to pursue. That is exactly the name of the song that goes along with it. “Problem” by Ariana Grande illustrates that The Public Integrity Unit might have problems, but like the song’s lyrics say, Davis won’t be one of them.

The Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid is withholding $75 million in matching money until they determine if the private hospitals that covered indigent care did so within appropriate parameters that qualified for federal matching dollars. As hospitals wait for their funds we thought an appropriate song would be “I Want My Money Back” by Lonnie Brooks.

Small towns in Texas have a growing need for water. People in these towns have access to water, but growing populations are increasing the demand for this limited supply. We decided “Water” by Brad Paisley was an appropriate song about the importance and significance of water.

Texas was left with just eight abortion clinics after a federal appellate judge ruled last week that the state could enforce more intense abortion restrictions. Normal physicians, however, are allowed to perform 50 abortions a year without obtaining an abortion license, giving women the option to say, “I Need a Doctor.”  Here’s “I Need a Doctor” by Dr. Dre, featuring Eminem and Skylar Grey.

Gov. Rick Perry has spent thousands of tax dollars on his legal defense. Due to the allegations of public corruption against him, the song “Blame” by Calvin Harris very much depicts what Perry is trying to convey: don’t blame it on me.

People are hopeful about the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program that implements a plan for crating energy efficient systems. The plan encourages people to have projects that lower the cost of utility bills and reduce carbon emissions. We chose “Optimistic” by Radiohead because people are optimistic about the potential results of PACE.

A recent audit of the Texas Enterprise Fund was a “scorcher” finding little control over the fund designed to lure business to Texas. Money was doled out without documentation and there has been little follow-up to see if the funds produced any results, which is why this story’s music selection is “Controversy” by the artist formerly known as Prince and currently known as Prince.

And finally we’re wrapping up our playlist with Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive,” a reminder to stay positive in the midst of worry about a potential Ebola outbreak. On Monday, Gov. Rick Perry called on federal government to improve efforts at U.S. points of entry in order to better contain the virus. The government will continue to closely monitor all emerging cases.

Texas Tribune Playlist: Watchdawgz

By Claire Kelley (@clairealeise), Ally Van Deuren (@avandeuren), Hanan Esaili (@hesaili), Trevor Cadigan (@tncadigan), and Sydney Nelson (@sn_juliet).


1. Every Breath You Take – The Police

“Every step you take / I’ll be watching you,” say state officials. Fifty Dallas-area people are being monitored for Ebola symptoms.

2. Come Clean – Hilary Duff

Gov. Rick Perry urged feds to screen for Ebola and set up quarantine stations at all U.S. entry points.

3. Where is the Love? – The Black Eyed Peas

The U.S. Supreme Court paved the way for same-sex marriage bans to be lifted in five states …

4. When Your Mind’s Made Up – Glen Hansard, Marketa Irglova

… but Ted Cruz called for an amendment to the Constitution to prevent overturning the ban on a state level.

5. We Ready – Archie Eversole

Texas lawmakers will meet this afternoon to examine the state’s public health readiness.

6. Amber – 311

“Amber is the color of your energy.” Developers are making major progress in bolstering energy and water efficiency.

7. She Works Hard For The Money – Donna Summer

Wendy Davis is trailing behind Greg Abbott in fundraising efforts.

8. Refugee – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Immigrants are finding refuge in El Paso.

9. Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems (feat. Mase & Puff Daddy) – Notorious B.I.G.

All Texas public universities are required this fall to offer students a tuition payment plan that promises a fixed rate.

10. I Would Walk 500 Miles – Kenny And The Scots

Small-town Texans go to great lengths, literally, to find water.

Playlist Team: On The Record

By Cody Beavers, Jehadu Abshiro, Chris Warley, Maria Cross, Courtney Madden and Paige Kerley

We’re starting our playlist off with Three Day’s Grace’s “Are You Ready” and The Black Keys’ “Fever,” which are inspired by lawmakers meeting to scrutinize hospitals’ readiness levels after the botched Ebola handling.

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are withholding $75 million from private hospitals in the state. The money that’s being held is supposed to have been reimbursed to private hospitals for care that they provided to poor patients, so we have “Sabotage” by The Beastie Boys.

We thought that “If I Were To Lie” by Bear In Heaven would be appropriate with a Texas parole commissioner that has been falsifying records.

In the Texas governor’s race, Attorney General Greg Abbott has raised significantly more money than his opponent, Senator Wendy Davis. Because we know that campaign fundraising can often predict election outcomes, we chose Kid Ink’s “Money and the Power.” Wendy Davis kicked off campaign events at University of Texas at Austin yesterday in an effort to catch up in the polls with her opponent Greg Abbott, so we chose “There She Goes” by The Law’s.

Federal appellate judges ruled that Texas could enforce a law that would have some women turning to their doctors instead of abortion clinics like Crash Vegas’ Michelle McAdorey sings about in “Clinic.”

With the price of higher education on the rise, all public universities in Texas were required to introduce a fixed-rate plan to its students this fall semester. Students who chose a payment plan were guaranteed a particular rate for four years. With that, we have Sam Smith’s “Money On My Mind.”

Uber and Lyft drivers are rallying in Austin as the city council contemplates allowing the two companies to operate. These “Chariots” (by Gavin DeGraw) began their services in Austin in May, but were technically not allowed to do so. Although the council approved a temporary ordinance, the debates will continue.

Loving County, the least populated county in the lower 48 states, uses a public water supply system. With growth of the county and Permian Basin’s flourishing oil & gas industry they will need more water. So, “Water” by Brad Paisley, because who wouldn’t love an overabundance of water to splash everywhere!

Playlist team: Hot off the Press

By Demetrio Teniente, Zoë Mattioli, Kamilah Todd, Katie Ballard, Caroline Hicks and Hayley Morrison

Many consider the handling of the first known case of Ebola in the US to be a failure so we decided to begin our playlist with “My Mistakes Were Made For You” by The Last Shadow Puppet.

Last week strict new abortion restrictions were imposed, leaving only eight authorized abortion clinics in Texas.  However State statute does NOT require physicians’ offices to obtain abortion licenses if they perform fewer than 50 abortions each year.  This means women are going to be “needing a doctor” to perform their abortions.

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is withholding $75 million to help Texas better run Medicaid- you could say they are imitating Kanye West’s “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” and are ‘waiting ‘til they get their money right.’

Our next song refers to the U.S. Supreme Court decision, allowing same-sex marriage in five states, and Sen. Cruz’s negative response. It’s “Same Love” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, featuring Mary Lambert.

After Texas lawmakers passed a bill earlier this fall requiring schools to offer a fixed tuition payment plan, students are showing mixed feelings about committing to a fixed plan. Numbers show that there is no guarantee that students will save money by signing up, so they are still getting hit with “Bills, Bills, Bills,” as sings Destiny’s Child.

With all eyes on the Ebola case in Dallas, Governor Rick Perry called on the federal government Monday to improve airport screening for Ebola, so we chose the song, “Feds Watching,” by 2 Chainz.

It was reported a few days ago that the Obama administration broke the record for deportations in 2013 (438,421 people were deported). This song relates to deportation, because the US government was telling immigrants that “There’s No Home For You Here”.

Colin McDonald and Erich Schlegel are currently investigating “Down By The River” of the disappearing Rio Grande and cataloging their findings in real time. This weekend, McDonald reported about his adventures making friends with U.S. Border Patrol agents, shooting guns, and a team member catching the bubonic plague, so we have “Hell of a Life,” by Kanye West.

And finally, Lovington County is expecting tremendous growth because of a booming oil and gas industry, so much so that water might become an issue- so Marty Robins’ “Cold Water” finishes off our playlist

Playlist Team: News Beats

By Rebecca Keay, Alex Bauer, Kathleen Gaskins, Courtney Cox, and Katelyn Hall

  1. “Desert Rain” by Outback
    • Colin McDonald takes a ride through Indian Hot Springs along the Rio Grande, where “the rains bring the good times” to a desert land in “Dogs and Guns,” so enjoy “Desert Rain by Outback.
  2. “Rumour Has It” by Adele
    • As Adele croons, “Rumour Has It” that parole commissioner Pamela Freeman falsified government records.
  3. “Happy Birthday” by Flipsyde
    • Flipsyde’s Happy Birthday explores the emotional aftermath experienced after abortion as the number of clinics allowed the perform the procedure in Texas dwindles down to 8.
  4. “Just Give Me A Reason” by P!nk
    • Loose oversight over millions of dollars in incentive programs have critics from both sides of the aisle asking how they can “feel confident that taxpayer money is being spent wisely. They want answers and solutions, bringing us to “Just Give Me a Reason,” by P!nk.
  5. “Africa” by Toto
    • Ebola came to Dallas from Africa. A Liberian who was in Dallas visiting his girlfriend was diagnosed last Tuesday. Now Texas lawmakers are working to improve the Texas health readiness.
  6. “If You Were There, Beware,” The Arctic Monkeys
    • Governor Rick Perry is pressing towards higher screenings of people coming back into the US from Africa in order to prevent the spread of Ebola.
  7. “Money on my Mind” by Sam Smith
    • The price of higher education has been going up leaving many college graduates with money on their minds. This fall semester is the first time that public universities in Texas are required to offer incoming students the option of a payment plan that will fix their tuition at a particular rate leaving them to “do it for the love.”
  8. “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister &
  9. “Talkin’ Bout a Revolution” by Tracy Chapman
    • Though other states such as Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin are allowing same-sex marriage, Texas officials are “not gonna take it” and refuse to jump on the bandwagon.
  10. “Can’t Buy Me Love” by Michael Bublé
    • Attorney General Greg Abbott showing off his fundraising efforts over the last three months proving that money can buy you love. Abbott is crushing Sen. Wendy Davis by double digits in the final stretch of the Texas governor’s race.

Crafting newsy Spotify playlists on #NewsEngagementDay

Happy National News Engagement Day!

(Speaking of which, want a free week of the NYT Now app, in honor of #NewsEngagementDay? Help yourself!)

Today in class, we will be breaking up into groups to create news-inspired music playlists based on stories that have appeared in The Texas Tribune since Saturday.

Here is your group’s mission for the next 75 minutes:

  • Come up with a fun, newsy name for your group! (Examples: The Deadlines; Off The Record)
  • THIS IS IMPORTANT: Take a look at Tribune reporter Reeve Hamilton’s most recent playlist to get a sense of how he combines news and music every week, and to see which songs he’s already selected for recent news stories. (Previously used songs are off limits!)
  • Plug in your headphones and earbuds and start browsing The Texas Tribune. Search on Spotify for songs that somehow relate to stories/videos that the Trib has published since Saturday. (You also can draw from the TribWire widget on the TT’s homepage, or from its daily newsletter The Brief.)
  • Be creative! Have fun! Feel free to include songs that your parents and professors have never heard of! But it’s also OK (encouraged, even!) to include music from different decades and genres. (Reeve, who’s the pro at this, offers his tips below.)
  • Get together as a group. Settle on 10 songs for your playlist.
  • Divvy up the duties to write at least one sentence explaining the news connection to each song.
  • Appoint a Spotify-savvy curator to compile your playlist and a WordPress-savvy scribe to embed the playlist and write/publish your post.
  • By the end of class, each group must publish to the course blog a post containing: 1) The name of your group in the headline; 2) An embedded Spotify playlist of at least 10 songs, like the one above; 3) A brief explanation of why you picked each song, along with a link to the story it was inspired by; 4) The name of each person in your group, with links to your Twitter handles.
  • Last step! Each group member should tweet the link to your published blog post/playlist, along with the hashtags #NewsEngagementDay and #j4398. Explain it to your followers with some context — this can be your act of engagement for this week’s Power Tweets.
  • PRIZES!! Judges will confer in the coming days to award prizes for the best song(s) and playlist(s).

Remember these helpful tips on compiling a newsy playlist, created just for you by the Texas Tribune’s Reeve Hamilton:

  • The connection to the story should be clear from the title of the song.
  • If you can’t follow the first rule, you can explain why the lyrics work. But as they say in politics, when you are explaining, you are losing.
  • With exceptions, the lyrics of the song should seem applicable to the news situation if you use your imagination and squint a little. If this is just impossible, that’s ok. But before you settle, see what other options are out there.
  • The playlist should be listenable (obviously this is subjective). But if you are going to take the time to make something like this, make something people can actually get enjoyment out of.
  • Don’t take it too seriously (but do put some effort into it).

National News Engagement Day

During class on Tuesday, Oct. 7, we will participate in National News Engagement Day, sponsored by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

Full details will be shared on Tuesday — there will be PRIZES!! — but here is how you can prepare:

  • Read this AP article about how the public still craves meaty news, not just kitten videos.
  • Read the Texas Tribune’s weekly Spotify playlist to see how reporter Reeve Hamilton makes a habit of engaging his readers by combining politics with music. (See, the news can be fun!)
  • Between Saturday and Tuesday, browse The Texas Tribune. Come to class with at least one song in mind that somehow relates to recent news about Texas politics and public policy. Be creative!
  • Bring headphones and download Spotify on your laptop if you don’t have it already installed.