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

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).

Upload your three (SHORT) raw audio files from your phone to your computer or an external drive and post them individually to SoundCloud. Email the SoundCloud links (NOT the raw files!) to me by 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18. On Thursday, bring your raw files to class, along with your laptop and some earbuds or headphones. 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. 12, read the “Drilling Down” boxes in the Briggs book on pages 164-5 and 178. Then watch this three-minute audio slideshow by Caitlin Faw of The Baltimore Sun, which won a quarterly multimedia contest run by the National Press Photographers Association.

In a previous edition of Journalism Next, NBC News Vice President 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. 11, leave a comment on this post, worth 5 class participation points, answering one of the following questions (double-check to make sure your comment posted and if it didn’t, email it to me):

  • Did this video deliver an “immersive experience” in comparison to legacy media formats and, if so, how?
  • What specific techniques did you notice that elevated the storytelling quality?
  • Would this story have been more or less powerful if it used voiceover from the journalist, rather than relying entirely on sources for narration?

Elevating Engagement


How can journalists infuse an audience-centered mindset into their work? In May, I had the chance to explore engagement strategies with fellow journalists and researchers at the Elevate Engagement unconference hosted by the University of Oregon’s Agora Journalism Center in Portland.

Speaking of engagement, for the past year I’ve served on the steering committee for a new platform called Gather that will be launching soon. We’re looking for volunteers who can write case studies of effective audience engagement in journalism (like WFAA-TV’s “Verify” experiment). If you’re interested in pursuing one of these case studies for your second blog post or for extra credit, let me know. It could be a great way to learn about real-world experiments in audience engagement while also making professional connections. Plus, it’s a clip!

Live blogging: A staple of 21st-century journalism

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 Sunday’s Texas Tribune Festival closing panel 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, college lacrosse and SMU’s Celebration of Lights.

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

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. 11 a.m. class | 2 p.m. class

Personal Branding and the Job Hunt

On Tuesday, we’ll start talking about jobs, personal branding and how to land that first gig. Skim/read this “Superpowers” report about the expectations of modern media employers. Peruse the Journo Salary Sharer to see how much reporters make around the country. Check out this Dallas Morning News graphic about the social résumé and Poynter’s 10 Ways to Make Your Journalism Job Application Better Than Anyone Else’s. And if this class has intrigued you about job opportunities related to audience engagement, read this Digiday piece about the evolving job duties of social media editors and/or this recent Columbia Journalism Review piece — you may recognize one of the sources. 🙂

Your homework (5 points) is to email me, answering/reacting to one of the following questions by 11:59 p.m. Monday:

  • What was the most memorable advice you took away from any of these readings?
  • 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
MediaBistro jobs
DFW Communicators Job Bank
Negotiating tips

News as Conversation

My book, Engaged Journalism: Connecting With Digitally Empowered News Audiences (Columbia University Press, 2015) examines the changing relationship between journalists and the audiences they serve. I’m eager to hear your reactions. For Tuesday’s class, please read Chapter 2: News As Conversation (the PDF is on Canvas under “Files”). By 11:59 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 11, 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? For full credit, 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’s power as a journalistic tool

For class on Tuesday, Aug. 29: After reading the assigned portions of Briggs in Ch. 2, post a 100-to-150-word comment on this post answering this question: How did the reading change the way you think about how you use (or don’t use) Twitter as a tool for journalism and/or your career goals? Be honest and specific. This is worth 5 class participation points and is due no later than 11:59 p.m. Monday, Aug. 28.

Meet Your Professor

Welcome back to SMU, and welcome to Digital Journalism! I look forward to navigating the digital jungle with you this semester.

Here’s a short self-profile I produced for the Video Journalism Movement soon after I started teaching at SMU. Since then, I’ve spent a lot of time visiting newsrooms to conduct research on how audience engagement is changing journalism as well as best practices in the business of digital news.

I also invite you to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, as well as our still-developing class Twitter list.