Chapter 7: Making audio journalism visible

Briggs points out that with just a microphone, recorder and free software, you can create full-featured segments that sound like radio episodes and distribute them as podcasts to build a loyal audience.  This is what this chapter is all about: audio journalism.

So why is audio journalism important? Capturing in words a story’s particular sights and sounds has always posed a challenge for every reporter.  Since it has been a challenge, reporters have used cheap digital audio recorders to make things easier.  With these recorders, reporters bring readers even closer to the story by enhancing their reporting with audio clips.

Also, audio journalism has characteristics that can’t be matched by other forms of media:

Presence: On location, a reporter can literally bring readers to the story.  The simple fact of being there boosts credibility and interest.

Emotions: Tone voice, expressions, intonation and pauses–in the words of either the reporter or the sources–can enhance the message.

Atmosphere: Natural sound–the sound that’s naturally happening around you as you report–helps pull the listener in close.  Natural sound can be anything–weather sounds, crowd sounds, machine noises, etc.

Audio also offers numerous opportunities even to journalists just getting started:

Reporter overview: Newspapers like The New York Times routinely post quick, simple audio overviews by reporters that accompany their articles.

Podcasts: Regular episodes on a selected subject help build an audience but can be time-consuming and difficult to establish in the beginning.

Audio slide shows: Photojournalists have discovered the power of adding audio to their images to tell richer, more compelling stories.

Breaking news: With free services like, a reporter can file a quick audio report from anywhere by mobile phone, to be published on a Web site.


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