Author Archives: Globe Scribbler

UCU Strike at City University

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) at City are striking both today and on this Thursday the 24th March to demand reform on their pension schemes as well as highlighting the thousands of jobs already lost from the university sector.

Click below to hear  Rory Fitzgerald, vice-president of City University’s UCU committee speaking from the picket line outside City’s social science building.



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New LinkedIn Online Audio Journalism group

Last week I received a message from my LinkedIn account telling me I’d been invited to join a group for those interested in Online Audio Journalism.

I joined and saw that already journalists have been coming together to discuss different techniques and the software they use for their audio work.

With many sites dedicated to online journalism as a whole – which is a massive subject – I think it’s a great idea to give journalists a forum to specifically focus in on audio.

The group has been set up by journalist Andy Watt. I interviewed him to find out a bit more about why he decided to set up the group.

What’s your journalism background?

My interest in journalism began after I set up  an internet forum discussing the local football league team. As the forum grew in popularity, I was asked to write for a number of publications, participate in press interviews on  radio as well as TV appearances. This led to me being asked to host my own radio show which developed into anchoring a 4 hour Saturday morning sports show alongside  four other presenters. My focus has now widened to other areas including hyperlocal issues which itself resulted in me being asked to write for the Guardian.

When did you first get involved with audio?

My first involvement with audio was while presenting my own radio show and producing others. This was in the early days of podcasting where I edited my own shows, removing the music tracks for copyright reasons, and made them available for download. This progressed to the creation of enhanced podcasts for the sports show and now, I try to help and advise anyone I can with creating their own.

Why did you decide to set up the group?

There seemed to be no central dedicated online place for those involved or interested in audio journalism to meet and support each other while discussing topics of mutual interest. I chose LinkedIn as there are already a lot of members who are industry professionals which potentially provides a huge, ready made pool of talent and experience.

What do you hope to achieve from it?

I am hoping that those with an interest in entering the world of audio journalism will see it as a place where they can freely ask for advice and feedback in a creative and supportive atmosphere. I am also hoping that those who already produce audio for online use will see the LinkedIn group as a place to meet, network, share good practice and discuss developments in the industry.

Who should join?

I hope that anyone with an interest or background in online audio would consider joining. An online community grows in strength with a rise in contributors and the more people who share their knowledge and experience will make it a valuable resource to everyone, from amateurs to seasoned professionals (along with those in between).

Sign in to your LinkedIn account at and search for Online Audio Journalism under groups.

Follow Andy on Twitter @Andy_Watt and view his website at


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Must see audio slideshow

Big thanks to Lex who brought this audio slideshow to my attention when he commented on one of our previous posts.

It showcases some of the best images acquired by the Wellcome Trust over the last eighteen months.

Photographs include extreme macros shots of a zebrafish eye and infections under microscopes.

The images in this are OUT OF THIS WORLD – if you look at one audio slideshow this week it should be this one.

They are on display at the Wellcome Image Awards 2011 until  10th July 2011.


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Gay Pride at Barranquila Carnival – Audio Slideshow

I’m really interested in how audio slideshows can be used to tell stories. Today I came across this one which  discusses the experiences of the LGBT community at the Barranquila Carnival in Colombia.

The audio describes how the festival is important for the LGBT community as a way to express themselves and their sexuality openly, in a society that is largely unaccepting of them.

What really struck me was the fantastic choice of images used. Bright and colourful, they capture the  festival’s spirit perfectly. This combined with the narrative and faint music  means you can really imagine you are there, which I think makes for a more interesting and engaging experience.

In an audio slideshow it’s key to get the photos right as much as, if not more than, the audio. Many of the photos in this piece show or imply a movement – dancers captured mid step, people in the middle of pulling faces or confetti frozen as it falls through the air. These hints towards movement help to carry the piece along while pausing on each image allows you to take in the audio and the framed moment simultaneously.

I found the images from 2:05 which focus in on two gay men who dress as ‘negritas’ captivating. The men wear black masks with decorations and black lycra costumes as they are not comfortable revealing their identities during the parade.

The photos range from informal shots of the men getting dressed to more stylized close ups of the striking masks. The contrast between the shots of the intimate,casual moments and the more exuberant ones when they are masked backs up and reinforces what is being said on the audio.

This piece has inspired me to try and capture a few shots of my own as being handy with a camera will be a great skill to have when creating audio slideshows in the future.

I’m keen to try and capture movement in them and will post up my attempts once I have had a go.

Heads up they probably won’t be as good as the ones on this audio slideshow but I’ll do my best. Any hints and tips appreciated.



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7 blogs you should check out

Online journalism is all about interaction and that goes for learning about audio too. Here’s my pick of my seven favourite blogs which I’ve looked at while learning about audio journalism so far. Some don’t focus entirely on audio journalism but all have audio aspects.

One for every day of the week (in no particular order):

1. Mastering Multimedia

Who? Colin Mulvany. A multimedia producer at  The Spokesman Review in Spokane, Washington. An experienced still photographer for the first 18 years of his career who movedinto making videos and audio slideshows in 2005.

Good for? Audio slideshow tips.

2. Scobleizer

Who? Ex-Microsoft whizz Robert Scoble who blogs about ‘world-changing technology.’

Good for? Hot-off-the-press news about all online technology including  audio-specific technology.

3. Online Journalism Blog

Who? Paul Bradshaw (and contributors). Bradshaw is described by The Press Gazette as “One of the UK’s most influential journalism bloggers”. Leads the online journalism module at City University London. Blogs about everything online from social media to podcasting.

Good for? Plenty of posts cover aspects of audio journalism: comments, tips and theory.

4. Dan Mason

Who? Dan Mason. Consultant, editor and trainer for the Thomson Foundation with over 25 years’ experience as a journalist and editor.

Good for? Podcasting tips, hints about free tools for multimedia journalists.

5. 10,000 Words

Who? Various contributors, ‘where journalism and technology meet’.

Good for? Multimedia news and technology – regularly updated. Search for articles on podcasts and audio slideshows to see audio-specific posts.

6. Sounds like journalism

Who? Journalism students exploring audio journalism.

Good for? Learning from others’ audio experiences, practical hints and tips.

7. BBC Podcasts

Who? The Beeb

Good for? A huge range of podcasts, informative, funny, serious – great for getting some inspiration for your own podcasts.

If you have any other recommendations for blogs which have great pieces about audio, tutorials or just great examples of audio being used in journalism let me know.


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Japanese Earthquake in Audio

Houses afire amid tsunami debris in Natori city ©Logan was his name-o,Flickr

Japan was today hit by the most powerful earthquake the country has seen since records began. The massive quake triggered a huge tsunami which swept across the north eastern coastline.

Over 200 people are feared dead and hundreds of others still missing.

The 8.9 earthquake is the fifth largest in the world since 1900 and scientists say about 8,000 times stronger than that which devastated Christ Church, New Zealand last month.

New York based sound programmer Micah Frank has created this audio interpretation of the seismic waves of the quake.

Micah describes Tectonic on his website as ” a sound sculpture created in real time by earthquakes as they occur across the globe. A tightly integrated system between Max/MSP, Google Earth and Ableton Live processes a stream of real-time data that is translated into synthesis and sample playback parameters.”

When an earthquake occurs the seismic data is relayed to the system and produces sound. Although not the easiest on the ears I found this strangely spooky especially in the parts where the sound becomes more intense.

Whether this counts as audio journalism I’m not sure, but it’s a great example of how audio technology is being used to interpret the world around us. In a story which has dominated today’s headlines and will likely be on the news agenda for sometime it’s an innovative and interesting piece which I think would slot in well as an add-on to online pieces about the disaster.


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Audio Sickness

Found this great piece showing the benefit of enhancing sounds in an interview:

During an interview about young people drinking ,  mid way through  you  hear someone in the background being sick. The journalist compares the original sound recording to one where the vomiting has been enhanced with a sound effect.

It highlights perfectly how sound effects can be used to make a piece more colourful and  how to make the most of great (if unplanned) comic timing when it appears in an interview.


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