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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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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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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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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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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Broadcasting on Broadcastr

Got an hour so to spare or that you’d like to procrastinate away? Then Broadcastr, which I discovered only today,  is perfect for you. In its developer’s words, it’s a social media platform for location-based stories,’ and is highly, highly addictive.

Although the site’s still in its early stages with a few bugs to iron out apparently,  it’s clearly developed a firm following of people from around the globe who like sharing stories from their lives with others.

The site’s also working with Human Rights Watch to to encourage uploads from Egypt and other countries where eye-witness reports are in short supply. It’s also hoped that the site will be used even by those in countries where the internet has been switched off for political reasons, through a voicemail service for witnesses to leave messages via a phone when they can’t upload them directly to the website.

The beta site already includes eyewitness reports from the Brisbane floods; I listened to a really moving first person account of people attempting to rescue a man who had plunged into the floods to rescue his baby.

But the site is also a great way for individuals to share more personal, less dramatic moments in their lives, often giving a sense of the place that they live in or have visited. I agree with Roy who said on the comments section of the website: “The thrill of Broadcastr is to be allowed an intimate eavesdrop on peoples lives. Their emotions.” He also wanted radio stations to be banned to preserve the site as a forum purely for snapshots from people’s personal experiences.

As well as the Brisbane recording, I listened to another Australian broadcast, a humorous one this time, on how to avoid being eaten by sharks, one from a woman whose boyfriend proposed to her in a car park, an account of a traveller’s experience of Machu Picchu, and one woman’s really amusing account of ‘hooking up’ with someone on a boat from Finland to Scotland. It seems pretty much anything goes, even fiction I discovered reading the site’s comments- one lady had requested a ‘Fiction’ category.

So I thought I would have a bash, giving a quick account of one aspect of  living in Dalston, Hackney. I found the website pretty easy to use, although I couldn’t seem to see the bottom of the uploading window which meant I had to save it as a draft then go back in to edit it and pin it on, at the same time publishing my broadcast, then.

I also messed it up first time round by not uploading a picture. I couldn’t seem to work out how to change this so I deleted the original and created another. For some reason, the comments section told me, it takes two attempts to delete a post. The site is still a work in progress and they’re keen for all user’s feedback on technical issues or suggestions on how to make it more user-friendly.

To find my efforts just type ‘Hackney’ into the search box and ‘Unseen Hackney’ should pop up:

Be sure to explore the site and listen to a few of the other (much better) posts too.


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