Category Archives: Audio editing

Ethical Audio

Editing an interview for an audio slideshow is a tricky skill. In fact, getting the words to match the images is the least of your worries, especially when the narration is someone candidly, and so more poignantly, discussing the topic you’ve chosen.

Do not fear. Outlined below, thanks to The Journalist’s Toolkit, is a list of ethical do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when collating and viewing your soundbites:

Firstly, the golden rule is to never change the meaning of what the interviewee said. This obviously applies to all journalism, but can still be overlooked in the face of a tight deadline and a wealth of photos to coordinate.

The Do’s

  • It’s okay to cut out verbal stalling. Ums, ers, “can I go back and say that in a less slurred fashion” and “ooh this a great packet of crisps” can all go. Unless the slideshow is about crisps, of course.
  • Extraneous words can be edited out. In candid speech people tend to overuse words such as “like” and “kind of” and “you know” which can slow down the audio.
  • Au revoir to reiterations. As people think, they repeat sentences and this is often unnecessary. Make sure this doesn’t result in a jarring final edit, as it requires some skill to do well.
  • Subordinate clauses should also only be attempted by editing whizzes. It can usually result in a weird jumpy edit making the interviewee sound somewhat robotic and/or mental.
  • Always identify the speaker if it’s an interview piece. Either through captions or actually within the audio.
  • It sounds obvious, but let the interviewee know beforehand that they have to answer fully. So not “yes, I thought it was brilliant actually…” but “yes, I thought the Walkers foray into condiment flavoured crisps was brilliant actually…”

Summary of Do’s: You CAN edit anything that smooths out the interview and tightens the soundbite.


  • Never tell the interviewee or narrator what to say. It’s unethical to force opinions on anyone.
  • Don’t forget to make sure the interviewee or narrator gives full permission for their audio to be used. Written and signed.
  • You cannot dub other questions in other than the ones you asked. This is often used on pirate radio interviews and is bad practice. Even if the wording is slightly altered, it could change the semantics of the person’s response. Similarly you can’t use someone’s narration out of context with the one given by you in the recording.
  • Avoid re-asks unless the interviewee chokes on a question and cannot answer it.
  • Do not change location. Different background levels will sound bizarre.

So there you have it. Follow these guidelines and you can guarantee yourself a better soundbite, and a distinct lack of being sued.


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Filed under Audio editing, Interviews, Uncategorized

BBC College of Journalism on choosing audio clips

This video guide is geared towards radio but it is still helpful for online audio. Julian Vaccari, a BBC journalist, takes us through the essentials for a fast turnaround of audio clips – especially helpful for news.

BBC College of Journalism – Audio Clips Guide

His main points are:

– Be prepared and anticipate the story.

– Listen to a piece of audio in full before you select your clip. If it is a speech, make sure you listen to the Q and A afterwards.

– Think about what you are using the clip for when you select the duration

– Choose the best quality clips, with no glitches etc

– Listen out for details that move a story on and include these in your audio clip

– Include any memorable or colourful phrases

– Cut out words that don’t add anything like ‘I believe’ and ‘The report concludes that’

– If you make internal cuts, do take out coughing, long pauses and swearing but be sure not to alter the meaning of the speaker in your clip


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Filed under Audio editing, Interviews, Radio

Ten tips for recording audio

Ten things to think about before you record any audio and whilst the recording is going on. These also apply when recording video footage where you will use the audio..

1. Brief your interviewees so they know what to expect

2. Choose your location carefully: background noises can ruin your interview

3. BUT  can also get across a particular place if done right so experiment

4. Record any interesting sounds that you might use later to switch between interviewees/ show that time has moved on

5. With intros and voiceovers (which can be recorded later) make sure you set the scene


7. Get used to not interrupting – this is harder than it sounds

8. Don’t try to trick the listener with subtle editing. There’s nothing wrong with a few ‘um’s from your interviewee. If they are listening to your clip on headphones, they’re more likely to hear if you’ve edited the audio.

9. Get an external mic/spoffle to reduce the ‘pop’ of talking

10. A digital dictaphone is best, but if you’re stuck with nothing else your smartphone will probably do.

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Filed under Audio editing, Equipment, Uncategorized

Light Bedtime Reading

Well, maybe not light. Or for bedtime. But it certainly involves reading.

“How has this got anything to do with audio journalism?!” I hear you wonder. Well, everything actually considering it’s Sound Reporting: The NPR Guide to Audio Journalism and Production by Jonathan Kern.

This is essential for anyone wanting to pursue the grassy field/knoll of audio journalism. NPR, aka National Public Radio, is an American online service dedicated to podcasts, audio clips and online radio stations across the US bringing up to date news, culture and style to the masses. Jonathan Kern, who trained with the NPR on-air staff for years and this book has been described by the Library Journal as “bringing sound reporting to life,” while top Californian audio academic Judy Muller says: “there is no other how-to manual to compare.”


Not only does Kern go into podcast creation, storytelling through the art of slideshows and general radio production- he also traverses the more technical audio ground. Ensuring the clips you get are top quality. Editing them to a professional standard. The nuts and bolts of the different stages in audio production.

A must for anyone interested in the sound industry.

(Buy it on Amazon here)

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Tips on using Adobe Audition

Right then, I think I’ve finally gotten to grips with how to use Adobe Audition effectively. I can’t take any credit for instinctive technical wizardry. Unable to access the help section of my software or find any tutorials on the basics online, I accosted a poor fellow student in my university’s radio room, who appeared to be using the programme without shaking and weeping. It’s really the kind of programme that makes more sense when someone shows you how to use it anyway…

The lovely Alexa was able to show me the main tool that I stupidly hadn’t figured out, which was the zoom. By pressing the plus and minus keyboard keys, you can make sure that any editing you do is fine-tuned.

The main thing I needed to do was edit out my questions to my interviewee and any digressions or hesitations he made so the story he told was coherent and captivated the listener. At first, I found Audition incredibly counter-intuitive. I felt like I needed two cursors, one to mark a starting point and one an end point.

After my tutorial however, I realised that there are in effect two cursors, you’ve just got to be careful not to accidentally move your first one after you’ve painstakingly marked out where you want to start cutting from.

Make cuts thus:

  • mark where you want to start cutting from. The best way to do this is listen to your piece and hit the space bar at the split second you want to cut from. This may take a couple of attempts if you are trying to catch someone between words as I was or edit out a tiny sound from the interviewer.
  • Then zoom right in and click your yellow cursor exactly over the white line which marks the point you’ve just paused at.
  • Then press play and wait until the moment just after you need to finish the cut and hit the space bar again.
  • This may again take a few attempt which can be time consuming as the programme will always play from where you last placed your yellow marker i.e. where your cut is starting from. The tip here is not to be tempted to move the yellow cursor to nearer to where you want to end the cut so you don’t have to listen to the same section again. If you do this, you’ll lose where you were cutting from in the first place. Instead use the fast forward button to cycle near to the point you want to designate as the cut finishing point. Or you can make a note of the time the cursors at displayed in the Selection/view bar in the bottom right of your screen but this is a bit fiddly.
  • Once you have your two points use your cursor to highlight from the yellow dotted cursor to white timeline, by dragging your cursor across to highlight the section. Highlight from yellow to white otherwise you’ll lose your starting point. Again, zooming in really helps otherwise it may look like your highlighting exactly from line to line when actually your a fraction out.
  • To check you’re happy with the section you are about to delete, use the loop back button in the bottom left-hand corner to listen to the section over and over- this is particularly handy for shorter cuts. Use the little yellow arrows at the top and bottom of your highlighted section to drag the section bigger or smaller.
  • Before you delete anything, go to Edit and check the Undo/redo cut is enabled. Also, in order to delete you must press the stop button on the lower left-hand corner. You would not believe how much time I spent wondering why I couldn’t delete bits. Then hit the delete button and listen to it back to check you’ve got it right. If not undo it and have another go.

And hey presto!: simple editing in Audition that even a technology-dunce like me can manage. To get it into an MP3 format so I could upload it on SoundCloud I had a bit more of a faff than last time I tried this. Turns out Switch Converter only works once before they want you to pay. Bah. I tried a whole host of other converter programmes: AVSAudio Converter, Smart Audio Converter and FoxTab Audio Converter. The last one I couldn’t get to work at all- the first two recorded a free trial over the start of my piece. Double Bah.

Then I discovered that good old iTunes can convert files. Simply go to Edit, Preferences, Import Settings and change Import using to ‘MP3 Encoder’ and Setting to ‘Good Quality’. Then just add your file to your library and it’ll ask you if you want to convert it. Yes!

And here is the humble result of countless (I’d rather not count them) hours of toil. It is The Independent’s defence and diplomatic correspondent Kim Sengupta paying tribute to a fixer, Nour al-Khal, who he worked with in Iraq. A fixer is someone who can be a translator, interview aid, guide to local culture, historian, bodyguard and driver; they are indispensable to foreign correspondents. As this story attests to, they must also be extremely brave.

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Filed under Adobe Audition, Audio editing

New Wave Arts Plug-In Released

You may notice that a lot of the easy to use, audio apps and voice recording programmes are, well, a bit crap. Here’s one of the more serious new releases on the market. Today, Wave Arts released Dialog which  has caught the attention of the industry. Described by Wave Arts as: “[combining] in one plug-in all the processing needed to clean up, adjust, and sweeten recordings of the spoken voice,” this is quite an eagerly anticipated bit of kit. Check out Pro Tools for Media for an overview of its best features. Or you could probably just Google it, but we like the way Pro Tools rolls.

Anyway, back to Dialog.

Ideal for professional audio journalism, two notable (and GREAT) features are the de-plode and de-ess processes which adjust plosive and sibilant sounds. Basically, it saves you a lot of pain and effort having to reinterview people who insist on spitting into the mic or exploding your eardrum everytime they say the word “people”. Yes we’ve all been there.

The moment the reviews start hitting the net, we’ll let you know. Considering it’s still quite a new product, and retailing at $249.95, it might take a few days for the industry to give it a proper listen.

Stay tuned….

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Filed under Audio editing