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. Email them to me by noon Monday, March 23. On Tuesday, 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 Tuesday, March 17, 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 noon Monday, March 16, 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?

UPDATED: Personal Branding and the Job Hunt

UPDATED: SMU has announced that campus will be closed until noon Tuesday, Feb. 24. We will pick things where we left off during our scheduled class period beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 26. The homework deadline has been extended until 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 25. See you Thursday! — Batsell

On ThursdayTuesday, we’ll start talking about jobs, personal branding and how to land that first gig. Read this Poynter CoverItLive chat, “What skills are digital-first newsrooms looking for?“, as well as this Dallas Morning News graphic about the social résumé and this Digiday piece about the evolving job duties of social media editors. Also, read the executive summary of the 2013 Annual Survey of Journalism & Mass Communication Graduates, and browse through some of the findings about salaries, desired qualities, etc. Your homework (5 points) is to comment (not tweet — this time, at least) on this post, answering/reacting to one of the following questions by 11:59 p.m. WednesdayMonday:

  • What was the most memorable advice you took away from either: 1) John Hiner’s comments in the Poynter chat; 2) the DMN graphic about “The Social Media Résumé; or 3) the Digiday piece about social media editors?
  • What surprised you most about the 2013 survey findings — and how did the survey change/confirm your personal outlook toward the journalism job market?
  • Browse through some of Batsell’s favorite journalism job listings below. What trends/patterns do you see in what employers are looking for?

Poynter.org’s searchable job database
Mashable jobs
Lost Remote (TV-related digital journalism jobs)
DFW Communicators Job Bank

Live blogging: A staple of 21st-century journalism

As the readings make clear, live blogging is an important journalistic tool that can deliver context to readers as they are processing the news in real time. Live blogging often is absorbed a “second-screen” experience during which people simultaneously view live events such as political debates, sports events and even entertainment awards shows.

During today’s live blog exercise, you will bring context to President Obama’s recent State of the Union address by carefully searching for — and evaluating the credibility of — news reports and other resources that provide your readers with critical background and perspective. We will use CoverItLive, which is used by many journalism organizations to provide running coverage of live events. In the past, SMU J-students have even used CoverItLive to live blog about the SMU Student Senate.

We will live blog the speech for about 25 minutes. For your live-blog entries, you can paraphrase the president’s comments, use direct quotes, provide links or share your own journalistic observations. (Whether you personally agree with Obama doesn’t matter … you are simply trying to bring context to your readers who are following the speech.)

When the speech goes live, it’s going to seem a little chaotic. That’s OK. There are no points at stake here. It’s a practice exercise.

News as Conversation

My new book, Engaged Journalism: Connecting With Digitally Empowered News Audiences (Columbia University Press, February 2015) examines the changing relationship between journalists and the audiences they serve. I’m eager to hear your reactions to the book. For Tuesday’s class, please read Chapter 2: News As Conversation (the PDF is on Blackboard under “assignments”). By noon on Monday, Feb. 9, post a reaction of 100 to 200 words as a comment on this post addressing the following question: How (if at all) did the chapter change the way you think about the role the audience plays in the journalistic process? In your response, cite specific examples from your own reading of the chapter, as well as your own observations and experience. It’s not acceptable to piggy-back on your classmates’ answers without reading the chapter yourself. This assignment is worth 10 class participation points.

Twitter as a (mandatory) journalistic tool

Twitter as a Journalistic Tool For class on Tuesday, Jan. 27: After reading Briggs Ch. 4, post a 100-to-150-word comment on this post answering this question: How did the chapter change the way you think about how you use (or don’t use) Twitter as a professional journalistic tool? Be honest and specific. This is worth 5 class participation points and is due no later than 11:59 p.m. Monday, Jan. 26.