High school juniors share their news habits

Ben and Abby Stock shared their news habits in a recent interview.

As I was as creating this podcast above, I texted to my family that multimedia makes my brain hurt, and I received a return text from one of my kids reinforcing that sentiment. The text read “It makes all our brains hurt!”

But that’s okay, because by the time I finished the podcast, brain hurting, I was feeling much better. Except for the equipment, podcasting covers familiar territory. That territory? Print reporting.

I prepared the way I would for reporting any news story. I wrote down questions, the way I would have for a news report. I played around with a lead, as I typically do when pursuing a news story, understanding that the lead will change, more likely than not, as the interview proceeds and more information becomes available. All reporting is a process. Podcasting just includes editing on Audacity and prepping pictures in Photoshop.

But this entry is more about the process. So I would like to evaluate the result. I will go down the score sheet point by point with my appraisal, beginning with required elements. I included all of them, so I feel good about that: my voice as the interviewer, at least one interviewee (I had two), an introduction to the topic, an introduction to the guests, an interview block, credits and a headshot (well, a little more than a headshot) of the interviewees.

There are eight subjects under edits:

  • Cuts were okay. The original recording was over 25 minutes long, so I spent a lot of time, really the majority of time, cutting the interview to half its original length.
  • In and out fading was used appropriately in that I tried to apply these effects as a new speaker came on and left. If I had included music (and I intended to at some point but I ran out of time), the in and out fading would make more sense.
  • The original recording was not the best, so the voices are not as easy to hear as I would have liked. (And that is without having to deal with background noise and musical interludes.)
  • The sound was not as crisp and audible as I would have liked. I spent a lot of time playing around with Audacity, and I think with time, I will get better at it. The one thing I take away from this, both for myself and for students, is to make sure the original recording is better than just good.
  • I did not use music, but intend to go back and incorporate it at some point.
  • Transitions were smooth and not clipped.
  • The audio matches the script for the most part. I went into the interview knowing that I had the latitude to rewrite both the original introduction and conclusion.
  • Not all long pauses, stutters and distracting elements were eliminated. I spent an enormous time working on these components, but in the end, some of the stuttering and long pauses added to the authenticity of the session because it accurately reflected how the students presented themselves and their ideas.

There are a couple of things I want to remember in the future. One thing that I did not anticipate, perhaps because I was thinking too much like a print reporter, was background noise. The interview took place in a classroom, a quiet classroom. I have taped interviews in the past and background noise made it nearly impossible to hear the voices on the recording. I wanted to make sure I did not repeat that mistake. At the same time, I neglected to grasp the idea that background noise can add to the overall quality of the podcast. In the future, I have to have enough presence of mind to think about background noise as an element that can enhance the podcast rather than as an impediment that would impair it.

I would follow the same routine I followed. That is, pre-plan the interview as I would for any print report.

I would spent a lot more time with my digital recorder, both to understand its components and to make a few runs with interviewees before beginning the interview.

I did take a few minutes before the interview began to brief the interviewees about how to pace themselves when speaking, what types of questions I would have, what the general tenor of the interview would be about and that I would need to take a photo before they left. I would do that again.

About the editing, I need more time. Because I had nothing to compare this activity with, I simply ran out of time. It can be an endless activity, reviewing the recording and finding things to edit out. In fact, one of the first things I did with the recording was to separate each piece of the interview, track by track, so that I might edit each piece more thoroughly and even have included transitions and music. (I would definitely include music.)

As for the introduction and conclusion, I tried to make each as catchy, informal and short as possible. The introduction might be a little long. The conclusion might be a tad cliche. I had to start somewhere.

Overall, the process was fairly painless. In fact, it was fun.

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