Class Agenda: Wednesday, Dec. 4

Workshop

We’ll screen your rough cuts and give feedback on them as a class.

 

Discussion: The Business of Multimedia Journalism

Learning how to come up with a story, report that story, compose a photograph, mix sound, and shoot B-roll and then put it all together into a clear and cohesive story is only half the battle. Something that often gets left out in school is the practical side of how to make a career out of this. Sure, you might get a good internship while you’re still in school and then get hired and start working your way up. But there are a lot of different ways into the industry, and a lot of them involve taking a little bit of initiative. I’d venture to say that most journalists I know have freelanced at one point or another.

Freelancing can be a great gig, and it can also be terrifying when you’re first starting out. Here are a few common issues freelancers often run into:

What’s the deal with taxes? You still have to pay them. You’ll become very familiar with the 1099-MISC form. Keep your receipts so you can write off as many business-related expenses as possible: Equipment, plane tickets, etc.

How do you make sure you get paid in a timely manner? Send an invoice as soon as you file the story. I usually ask the person receiving it to confirm they’ve received it and to tell me when I should expect the money to arrive. If they don’t respond, follow up early and often. “Polite but incessant” is my motto.

How do you know how much money to ask for? It’s easy to undervalue your skills when you’re first starting out, but it’s worse to ask for too little money than to ask for too much. Some publications have set rates: a flat rate for a certain kind of story, or a day rate, or they’ll pay by the word. In other cases, there’s room for negotiation. If you’re not sure how much to ask for, consult your colleagues. Always try and get them to reimburse expenses.

I can’t use the school’s programs anymore. How much is it to buy Adobe Premiere and Lightroom and all that stuff? Not actually as bad as you might think, because you no longer even have the option to buy them outright; there’s a monthly subscription service to the Adobe Creative Suite that costs anywhere from $10 to $50 a month, depending on how many programs you need.

Do I need a website? YES. Showcasing your previous work is more important than any well-crafted resume. The importance of being able to refer an editor to a slick portfolio website cannot be overstated.

What kind of equipment should I invest in? When it comes to still cameras, if you’re on a small budget, I usually advise people to start with a pretty basic camera body and to invest in a few good lenses if you’re going to spend money somewhere. When it comes to video, it’s become kind of an arms race out there and DSLR cameras don’t always cut it anymore. Take a look at Storyhunter assignments to get a sense of what outlets are looking for:

“C300 or C100 strongly preferred—higher end DSLRs accepted”

“Need to have a C100 or equivalent and lav mics”

“A camera capable of shooting 1080p 24fps and 60 fps for slow motion, if possible 4k video and 120 fps for slow mo”

The good news is that if you don’t have five grand to drop on a camera and audio equipment tomorrow, you can rent gear from places like Adorama and KitSplit.

 

I just spent an insane amount of money on my new equipment. How do I protect it? Insure your stuff! Renter’s insurance can sometimes cover your gear, but there’s usually a pretty high deductible for theft etc. If you’re planning on working internationally, insurance tends to be quite expensive, especially if you’re working in areas considered “high-risk.” NPPA members get a discount through one company, but make sure to shop around.

Freelancing is lonely. How do I meet other people in the industry? Journalists tend to be a social bunch. It’s an industry where skills are obviously important but where you can also go pretty far on the strength of your personality and on who you know. You already have a huge advantage by virtue of the fact that you live in New York, one of the world’s biggest media hubs. Make yourself known to editors and colleagues by checking out industry events like these:

ScreenUp NYC 

Video Consortium (New York chapter)

The Bronx Documentary Center

The Half King (journalist bar in Chelsea, hosts photo series as well as other events)
https://www.halfkingphoto.com/

RISC Training (first aid training for freelancers who work in remote, sensitive, and conflict areas, often host events/panel discussions at the Brooklyn Brewery
risctraining.org

Resources

  • Photojournalism

The National Press Photographers Association (NPPA membership gets you certain benefits, including discounted camera insurance and press accreditation; follow them to find out about grants)
https://www.facebook.com/groups/2233179993/

Photography/Multimedia Internships and Jobs (great place to find out about entry-level opportunities)
https://www.facebook.com/groups/608650785837641/

Photo Grant Opportunities (great place to learn about grants/competitions/exhibitions for emerging photojournalists) https://www.facebook.com/groups/205928780146/

Lightstalkers/N11 (for photojournalists)
https://www.facebook.com/groups/5235712822/

Photojournalism Now (blog focused on photojournalism and social documentary photography)
https://www.facebook.com/PhotojournalismNow/

Women Photograph (a resource for female* documentary and editorial photographers and the people who would like to hire them—GRANTS!)
https://www.womenphotograph.com/

Eddie Adams Workshop (a prestigious, game-changing, three-day workshop for emerging photographers in upstate NY that puts you in a room with some of the biggest names and top editors in the industry)
https://www.facebook.com/EddieAdamsWorkshop/

The New York Times Portfolio Review (free but competitive, puts you in a room with some of the top photo editors in the world for advice and critiques on your ongoing photo projects)
https://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/…/applications-open-for-the…/

Photoville
http://photoville.com/

The International Festival of Photojournalism
http://www.visapourlimage.com/en

  • Audio Journalism

Third Coast Audio Festival
https://thirdcoastfestival.org/

Public Radio NYC Google group. Be warned, you’ll get a LOT of emails but it’s a great place to pick up transcription work and the occasional tape sync, which usually pays about $150 for a fairly easy recording gig: publicradionyc@googlegroups.com
(Let me know if you’d like me to add you.)

Radio Women Rule the World (for women in radio) https://www.facebook.com/groups/1514423228769048/

  • Video Journalism

Storyhunter (online brokerage where videojournalists and filmmakers can apply for assignments)
https://storyhunter.com

Global VJs
https://www.facebook.com/groups/globalvjs/

Binders Full of Video Journalists (for female VJ’s) https://www.facebook.com/groups/1006816089433804/

  • All Media

Vulture Club (for international journalists) https://www.facebook.com/groups/197918473577006/

The NVC (the non-Vulture Club, founded by people who were kicked out of Vulture Club—long story)
https://www.facebook.com/groups/439000736155194/

Freelancers Get Your Freak On (for freelancers who work in different media and are looking to collaborate) https://www.facebook.com/groups/1021852794578554/

Journo Housing Exchange (for wandering journalists looking for short-term housing around the world) https://www.facebook.com/groups/1639458896367607/

Journalism and Trauma (a place to discuss how we as journalists engage with trauma, from how to interview someone who has experienced it to how to cope with our own direct or indirect trauma)
https://www.facebook.com/groups/468146643386958/

Ladies Writing and Journalism (for female print journalists)
https://www.facebook.com/groups/159810750800770

Binder of International Reporters (for women who work internationally) https://www.facebook.com/groups/634887219990543/

Binders Full of Digital Journalists (for female journos who work in digital) https://www.facebook.com/groups/globalvjs/

Riot Grrrls Of Journalism (global group for women who work in all different media) https://www.facebook.com/groups/1698979077092920/

  • Formal Groups/Organizations

New York Association of Black Journalists (NYABJ) https://www.facebook.com/NYABJ/

(NABJ) National Association of Black Journalists
https://www.facebook.com/NABJOfficial/

South Asian Journalists Association (SAJA)
https://www.facebook.com/South.Asian.Journalists.Associati…/

Asian American Journalists Association
https://www.facebook.com/AAJAHQ/?ref=br_rs

National Association of Hispanic Journalists
https://www.facebook.com/NAHJFan/

Arab and Middle Eastern Journalists Association (AMEJA)
https://www.facebook.com/AMEJAGlobal

Association of Health Care Journalists
https://www.facebook.com/healthjournalists

Society of Environmental Journalists
https://www.facebook.com/SocietyOfEnvironmentalJournalists

Native American Journalists Association
https://www.facebook.com/NativeJournalists

The International Association of Religion Journalists
https://www.facebook.com/The-International-Association-of-R…

Association of Food Journalists
https://www.facebook.com/AFJeats

Overseas Press Club of America
https://www.facebook.com/opcofamerica/

Society of Professional Journalists
https://www.facebook.com/SocietyofProfessionalJournalists/

Committee to Protect Journalists
https://www.facebook.com/committeetoprotectjournalists/

Blink (resource where outlets can search for and hire freelancers)
https://blink.la/

  • Funding Opportunities

International Center for Journalists
https://www.facebook.com/icfj.org/

The International Reporting Project
https://www.facebook.com/internationalreportingproject/

The International Women’s Media Foundation
https://www.facebook.com/IWMFpage/

Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting
https://www.facebook.com/Pulitzercenter/

Open Society Foundations
https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/

Class Agenda: Monday, Nov. 25

Discussion:

Together we’ll screen your five-shot sequences.

Upcoming dates:

Class this Wednesday Nov. 27 will be optional. Studio H will be open for editing and I will be here for anyone who wants to have me look at anything or help/give coaching in any way.

Rough cuts of your videos will be due on Monday, Dec. 2. The final project will be due on Dec. 11, our last day of class.

 

Writing a lede:

http://training.npr.org/digital/leads-are-hard-heres-how-to-write-a-good-one/

Writing a nut graph:

https://www.poynter.org/news/nut-graf-part-i

So the classic story structure is typically something like this:

Lede

Nut graph

Body (lead quote followed by background info, another quote followed by more background info, etc.)

Ending/Kicker

Class Agenda: Wednesday, Nov. 20

In-Class Exercise: Editing a Five-Shot Sequence

This can be a very short video: roughly 30 seconds.

Take a short clip of the interview you filmed, linger on the person’s face for about five seconds, add a lower third identifying the person, and layer your sequence of B-roll over the rest of it. You don’t need to include too much of each B-roll shot… but remember that it’s good practice to hold shots for at least 10-15 seconds when filming, even if a lot of the time you might only end up using five seconds of each clip.

Export (Format: H.264) and upload to YouTube or Vimeo, then post on the class blog. (Defaulting to “Match source-high bitrate” is fine; if you’re ever concerned about the file size being too big, the medium bitrate is a good option.)

Class Agenda: Monday, Nov. 18

Camera Workshop

THE BASICS

How to turn the camera on

How to attach a lens

Where to put your card and battery

Formatting card

How to record video

Auto and Manual are both acceptable for this assignment

How to mount camera on tripod

Using the wired lav mic

SETTINGS

Movie rec. size: Most often in video journalism, you’re going to select 1920×1080 at 30 fps with IPB compression.

You’ll select 60 fps if you’re shooting footage you intend to use in slow-mo.

Frame rate: 29.97 frames per second vs. 23.976 fps (realism vs. dreamy) and 30 vs. 60 fps (larger files and barely perceptible difference, it’s what you’ll use for shooting in slow-mo).

ALL-1 vs. IPB compression: Use All-I for short clips that need tight editing; IPB compression is good when long continuous recording is necessary but tight frame by frame editing is not required in post, and it is better if you’re concerned about running out of space on your card.

Video System: NTSC (most commonly used in North and South America; PAL tends to be the standard elsewhere)

Record button

Moveable LCD screen

In video recording settings, Movie Servo AF is the setting which, if enabled, will automatically cause the lens to focus on a subject as it moves. In some situations, you may want this enabled, but remember that it takes control out of your hands so in many situations you may want to disable it.

FOCUS

It is really easy to shoot video that is OUT OF FOCUS with these cameras. If your stuff isn’t in focus, you just wasted a lot of people’s time. So pay attention to focus at all times, and consider using it artfully to do a pull-focus shot from one layer to another.

  • Use the focus ring on the lens to shift focus (turn ring with your elbow down, not sticking out sideways)
  • Zoom in all the way on your subject and focus, then zoom back out to your desired framing; the subject will stay in sharp focus

SHAKY SHOTS

Because the sensor on these cameras is so large and sensitive, any little movement you make will cause camera shake. These cameras are basically impossible to handhold. Some camera lenses have image stabilization technology, but it makes a low, constant mechanical grinding sound that is audible on your camera, so unless you are recording audio separately and syncing later, TURN OFF THE IMAGE STABILIZATION (IS) FEATURE ON YOUR LENS. You should be using something else to stabilize the image anyway.

  • Use a tripod
  • Or use a monopod
  • Or use a shoulder mount or a gimbal
  • Set the camera down on a flat surface (the ground, a table, a stack of books, etc.)
  • If you are in a breaking news situation and must handhold (not recommended) or you are on top of a ladder or in some extreme circumstance, you can turn your body into a makeshift tripod by using both your arms and your face—if the camera is connecting with three points, it is always steadier.

PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR VIDEO SHOOTS

Get comfortable with the settings and equipment before you go out, especially your tripods since those can be a little tricky.

Consider bringing snacks/water! Filming is physically demanding work.

Know where the public restrooms are near you.

Fully charge your spare battery (as well as the one in the camera) and bring it with you.

Dress warm if you’re going to be shooting outdoors! Keep your spare battery in a pocket close to your body heat where it won’t get cold;  battery power and camera equipment in general don’t do well in extreme cold or heat.

Consider what kind of light you’ll be working with ahead of time and plan accordingly; if it’s likely to be a low light situation, you may want to check out a lens with a lower f-stop.

SETTINGS CHEAT SHEET

Movie rec. size: 1920×1080 and 30fps IPB
Shutter speed: 1/60 (or multiples of 30, ie if it’s very low light you can go down to 1/30 or if it’s very bright you can go higher)
ISO: Remember that if you go much higher than 800 or 1600, the image will start to get grainy. Sometimes this can’t be avoided, but avoid it if you can.
Aperture: The lower the f-stop, the more light you’re letting in, and the more dramatic the depth of field.
White balance: You can use Auto White Balance (AWB) if you expect to be changing light temperatures mid-shot (following someone outdoors, for instance). Otherwise it’s best to set it manually.
Movie Servo AF: Disable if you want to be able to control focus manually, and set the button on the lens itself to Manual Focus (MF).

In-Class Assignment: The Five-Shot Sequence

Split into groups and head out around the school to find and film a five-shot sequence of a person doing something. Think of an action that is conducive to this sort of thing: someone cooking something, playing an instrument, putting on makeup, playing chess, etc. Film a very brief interview with the person about what they’re doing. “I’ve been playing guitar since I was a kid. I love it, it helps me relax.” “I’ve been cooking at this food cart for a year now. The work itself isn’t bad but it sucks in the winter.” Etc. When you get back to the classroom, you’ll upload the footage to a computer and we’ll use it for an editing exercise on Wednesday.

When it comes to B-roll, your job is to use these visuals to tell a story in a way that is very clear and keeps the viewer not just interested but oriented: clear on what’s happening. Cutting together a sequence is often an effective way of doing this.

The classic sequence that every budding videographer learns when starting out is the five-shot sequence.

  • Close-up on the hands.
  • Close-up on the face.
  • Medium shot.
  • Over the shoulder shot.
  • One additional creative angle.

You won’t always edit things in this exact way when you do a sequence in the real world; sometimes it’ll only be three shots, or it might be ten, and they might be in a different order. But the five-shot sequence is a useful framework for thinking about depicting an activity clearly and engagingly with video.

If you miss this class for some reason, please shoot a five-shot sequence on your phone and make sure the footage is ready to use (meaning, already sent to your email so you can quickly access it) for Monday’s class. We’ll be using this footage in a video editing exercise. If you’re shooting on your phone, you MUST SHOOT WITH YOUR PHONE ORIENTED HORIZONTALLY.

Class Agenda: Monday, Nov. 11

Upcoming Dates

Video pitches will be due this Wednesday, Nov. 13. Your final project will be a reported multimedia project consisting of a 2-3 minute video, a written story of about 500 words, and at least one still photo as lead image.

Rough cuts of your videos will be due on Monday, Dec. 2. The final project will be due on Dec. 11, our last day of class.

Here’s an example of a story with multimedia elements:

Islamic exorcisms used as a ‘cure’ for homosexuality in Indonesia: ‘If I am Muslim, I can’t be gay’

Intro to Video Journalism

With video, we build on the compositional techniques of photography and the structural, storytelling aspects of audio with one obvious additional element: Motion.

How does video storytelling for the web and mobile differ from TV and film?

  • Need to be CLOSER to your subject. Web videos are smaller and more compressed.
  • 20 percent of online viewers bail on a video within 10 seconds. So you don’t have a lot of time to grab your viewers and make sure they stick around.

How important is audio?

  • Good audio is of paramount importance. If you have low-quality video and good audio, the video will still be watchable. If you have gorgeous visuals but terrible audio, it will not.

When is narration necessary?

Sometimes, you can let the subjects of your video tell the story all on their own — as long as you edit with care, presenting what they’ve told you in a way that makes narrative sense. One benefit of non-narrated videos is that they can feel more organic. There’s no disembodied voice stepping in to tell the story, which keeps the focus on the characters in the story.

But sometimes, for clarity’s sake or for stylistic reasons, narration is necessary, or text.

Narrated videos

https://www.nytimes.com/video/world/europe/100000002073002/treasures-from-the-sky.html?

https://www.nytimes.com/video/world/americas/100000005277141/the-last-taushiro.html?”>https://www.nytimes.com/video/world/americas/100000005277141/the-last-taushiro.html?

Text-Narrated videos

These are more and more popular thanks to social media distribution because they automatically start playing as you scroll through your feed and they can be watched without sound.

Non-Narrated videos

https://www.nytimes.com/video/opinion/100000001846077/bronx-obama.html”>https://www.nytimes.com/video/opinion/100000001846077/bronx-obama.html

Shooting Your Video

There are two main components to any video: your interviews and your B-roll. The rules of composition we learned for photography (thirds, colors, patterns, symmetry, etc.) all apply here, but you also need to keep an eye out for motion. Tracking shots involve following the action with your camera, while static shots involve keeping your camera still, but that doesn’t mean there’s no motion involved; you might just be letting the action go in and out of the frame.

What is B-roll? And what difference does it make?

A big difference.

Things to keep in mind while you’re shooting B-roll:

  1. Shoot more than you think you’ll need.
  2. Get a variety of shots. Close-up, medium, wide, detail shots, static shots, tracking shots.
  3. Use a tripod whenever possible. If you don’t have one or you’re shooting in a mobile, chaotic situation, be resourceful about stabilizing your shots.
  4. Think about your interviews and let them inform your B-roll shooting decisions. Look for shots that illustrate what the person is talking about.
  5. Hold your shot longer than you think you need to. A good rule of thumb is to hold it for at least 10 seconds (AFTER it’s already steady).

Things to keep in mind when you’re shooting your interviews:

  1. Frame the shot with your subject on one of the thirds, angled so that they’re looking slightly INTO the frame. Have them look at you, not at the camera, so be mindful of where you are sitting. It’s a bit intense when someone looks directly into the camera.

2.  If you’re working with a translator, be mindful that the subject will want to look at them, so make sure they are positioned in the ideal place to draw the person’s gaze.
3.  Prioritize good audio.
4.  Make sure their face is lit, but not too harshly.
5. Think about composing the shot in a way that allows for some negative space where the Lower Third will eventually go.

The Five-Shot Sequence

When it comes to B-roll, your job is to use these visuals to tell a story in a way that is very clear and keeps the viewer not just interested but oriented: clear on what’s happening. Cutting together a sequence is often an effective way of doing this.

The classic sequence that every budding videographer learns when starting out is the five-shot sequence.

  1. Close-up on the hands.
  2. Close-up on the face.
  3. Medium shot.
  4. Over the shoulder shot.
  5. One additional creative angle.

You won’t always edit things in this exact way when you do a sequence in the real world; sometimes it’ll only be three shots, or it might be ten, and they might be in a different order. But the five-shot sequence is a useful framework for thinking about depicting an activity clearly and engagingly with video.

Next week, you’ll get your hands on the cameras. We’ll practice shooting and editing a five-shot sequence.

Announcement

I’m teaching an Advanced Multimedia Reporting course next semester, which is really an advanced video class if any of you are interested in developing your video skills further. We had so much quality video work come out of that class in the spring that we launched a whole new section on Dollars & Sense called D&Sdocs to feature them.

Radio Story Submission Guidelines

You will need to host your radio story file on Soundcloud (create a free account and upload it here) and then embed the player (by copy/pasting the link) into a post here, along with your photo/photos and script that has been adapted to read like a news story. You have the option of embedding it on Exposure as well.

Example of a recent radio story from my podcasting class: listen

Example of a radio project (from this class) on Exposure: here

Example of a radio project (from this class) on the class blog: here

Also: please listen to the following NPR stories before class time on Monday so you can come prepared to discuss them with our guest speaker Scott Hensley:

  

Class Agenda: Wednesday, Oct. 30

Intro to Audio Editing

You have the option to edit your audio projects on either Audacity or Adobe Premiere Pro.

Pros of Audacity: Free to download. You can edit at home/on your laptop.

Pros of Premiere: Better editing program. More intuitive to use. Less buggy/prone to crashing. Will also give you a head start on getting familiar with the program, since it’s what you’ll be using to edit your videos for your final project.

Cons of Audacity: Sometimes prone to crashing. Doesn’t allow for more complex, nuanced sound mixing.

Cons of Premiere: You’ll either be reliant on school computers and lab hours (they have this program on the computers on the 6th floor of the library as well as in Studio H) or you’ll have to pay $19.99 a month to subscribe to it.

Audacity shortcuts to know:

Play/pause: space bar
Split track: Command I
Zoom in: Command 1
Zoom out: Command 3

In the tool bar, this is the selection tool that allows you to click and highlight and delete sections of track or select a spot where you want to split it:

And this is the tool that allows you to move sections of track:


And this is the one that lets you adjust the volume, basically the same way the pen tool works in Premiere:

Sound files download: acts/ambi and narration.

Script download: Trade and Manufacturing Script

In both programs, when you’re finished editing, you’ll need to export the finished sound file before you can upload it anywhere.

In Audacity, it’s File –> Export Audio –> select “WAV” from dropdown menu and give the file a name and location, then hit “Save” and “OK.”

For Premiere, it’s File –> Export –> Media. Select “Waveform Audio” from the “Format” dropdown menu if it’s not already there. Name and locate the file in the “Output Name” field. Then hit “Export.”

Class Agenda: Wednesday, October 23

In-Class Exercise: Script Writing and Audio Editing

ACT: TRUMP: “NAFTA was the worst trade deal in the history – it’s like – the history of this country. And China’s entrance into the World Trade Organization has enabled the greatest job theft in the history of our country.”

HOST INTRO: That was then-candidate Donald Trump hammering the North American Free Trade Agreement while delivering a speech on trade last year in Pennsylvania. Just last month, he threatened to scrap the deal altogether. He isn’t the only politician to blame trade deals for lost manufacturing jobs—they’ve been something of a punching bag on campaign trails for years. For anyone seeking votes in places where factories have been shut down, globalization has proved to be an effective scapegoat. But the reality is not quite that simple. [Your name] went to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia to investigate.

Okay, there’s your host intro. I want you to use the following information to write the first scene of a script for a radio story.

Location: The factory floor at Vaughan-Bassett in Galax, Virginia.

Source: Safety coordinator Brian Reavis.

Reporter notes: You’ve been given safety glasses to wear by Reavis. Reavis has a thick Virginia accent. The place smells like sawdust. The noise is deafening. Reavis points out a conveyer belt where workers are building nightstands assembly-line style. They’re building 16 nightstands every minute. It’s a chilly, cloudy day in October.

Background info:

  • Vaughan-Bassett is the largest wooden bedroom furniture manufacturer in the US.
  • Galax, Virginia considers itself the world’s capital of old-time mountain music.
  • There used to be six furniture factories here in Galax.
  • Cheap, imported furniture has disrupted the American furniture market.
  • Vaughan-Bassett is the only factory left in Galax.
  • Many furniture companies have moved operations overseas where manufacturing is cheaper, or closed down completely.
  • Galax sits at the “gateway” to the Blue Ridge Mountains.
  • There has been an emphasis on tourism in recent years since the factories closed.
  • Vaughan-Bassett employs 650 people, many of whom are longtime employees and work alongside members of their families.
  • Galax population: 7,042 people as of 2010 census. In 2018, the population was 6,423.

Soundbites (Reavis):

“My mother worked here for 35 years, she started here in 1972 making a dollar 62 an hour, I think minimum wage was a dollar fifty back then an hour, she brought home 80 dollars a week and she just retired probably 12 years ago. But a lot of folks are impacted by these furniture factories …I mean, it’s a vital part of our mainstay, our life, and we’re very fortunate to have it.”

“Oh yeah, we had BC Vaughan, TG Vaughan, EC Dodson, Webb 1, Webb 2, all within eyesight of this facility. Unfortunately they’re gone, and chances are they’ll probably not be back.”

“The process that’s going on here is Henry Ford’s assembly line personified. Every employee has a specific job to do to successfully put that piece of furniture from Point A to B…”

Your assignment is to write the script up to this point:

TRACK: Fortunate, yes. But it’s no accident that Reavis and the others at Vaughan-Bassett still have their jobs when so many others don’t. To show you why, we need to make another stop, over the border in North Carolina, where the Bassett family is gearing up for the world-famous, semiannual home furnishings trade show in High Point.

Remember, your script should follow a template like this:

HOST INTRO: 

AMBI: This is your natural sound AND your room tone.

TRACK: This is your narration.

ACT (NAME): These are your soundbites.

You should also include notes as to when your AMBI fades up and down.

Your sound files are downloadable here. Time permitting, we will also do an audio editing tutorial.for rob

Class Agenda: Wednesday, Oct. 16

Info session with admissions director of the Newmark J-school (CUNY), Max Patino.

Reminders/Upcoming dates:

Scripts for the radio piece will be due next Wednesday, October 23. We will NOT be having class as normal that day. Instead, I will be holding one-on-one edit sessions with all of you that day. You can sign up here. Time slots will be first come, first served. If you absolutely can’t do any of the available times, you can contact me about potentially setting up a phone call.

Your final produced radio story will be due Wednesday, October 30. As a reminder, here are the requirements:

Assignment #2 will be a 5-minute news radio feature (a “wrap”). A wrap is a scripted radio piece that weaves together natural sounds, interview clips (known as “actualities”), and reporter narration to tell a story.

These are the components you are required to submit for the final draft:

  1. A good headline/title.
  2. Your final 4-5 minute edited audio file, posted to Soundcloud and embedded on the blog or on Exposure.
  3. At least one photo.
  4. A slightly reworked version of the script that reads like a normal news story, similar to the examples we looked at in class.

Class Agenda: Wednesday, October 2

Intro to Radio Reporting

Photo by Youth Radio

For your radio stories, you’ll be creating something called a wrap: a scripted feature with narration, natural sounds, and sound bites all woven together.

Sample wrap.

Sample radio script.

Here are some basics you’ll want to keep in mind as you set out to collect sound:

Choose your environment wisely. Be aware of your surroundings. If you interview someone under a subway track, your recording will be impossible to understand. Pick a relatively quiet space. A little background noise is fine and adds atmosphere – except for music. Music makes editing difficult, so avoid it if possible.

Check your batteries beforehand. It’s a real bummer when you start interviewing someone and realize you only have ten minutes of life left on your recorder or phone. Bring backups!

Cell phones off. Yours and theirs. If you’re using your phone to record, make sure it’s set to silent.

Don’t forget your nats. Natural sound is a crucial element of any audio piece. Think about what sounds will most effectively place your listener in the scene. Footsteps, dishes clinking, phones ringing. Don’t be afraid to get in there and get close. Music is fine to use as a nat sound, but not as background to an interview. It will mess up your ability to edit.

Don’t forget your ambi. “Ambi” refers to ambient sound, also known as room tone. Basically, this is the background noise from wherever you happen to conduct your interviews. Even if you record in a very quiet place, nothing still usually sounds like something because of how the acoustics vary in different rooms. Before or after every interview, always record 90 seconds to two minutes of ambi. This will go under your narration to make the story feel seamless.

Ask open-ended questions. Yes or no questions won’t give you good long responses filled with usable quotes.

Get close, but not too close. Putting a mic right up against someone’s mouth can result in popping and crackling sounds on the recording. Make sure to test your equipment so you know roughly where to hold your recorder for optimal sound quality.

Ask your question, then shut up. Active listening is a fantastic skill for a journalist to have, but if you keep murmuring “Uh-huh,” “Yeah,” and “Sure,” while they’re answering your questions, you won’t be able to use the material. Stick with smiling and nodding.

Using an audio recorder. Always monitor your sound with headphones while recording, if possible. Hold the mic 1-2 feet from the interviewee’s mouth. Never let the person you’re interviewing hold it. Use the handle to reduce handling noise.

A couple more radio stories:

Example of a clever host intro: Scottish town wants its witch bones back

A small town in Italy offers houses for sale for less than an espresso

Upcoming dates:

Monday 10/7: Pitches due for radio stories. During Monday’s class, I’ll give a quick tutorial on using the Zoom audio recorders and then we’ll workshop your pitches.

Scripts for the radio piece will be due Wednesday, October 23.

Final produced radio story will be due Wednesday, October 30.

Guidelines for radio pitches:

Assignment #2 will be a 5-minute news radio feature (a “wrap”). A wrap is a scripted radio piece that weaves together natural sounds, interview clips (known as “actualities”), and reporter narration to tell a story.

These are the components you are required to submit for the final draft:

  1. A good headline/title.
  2. Your final 4-5 minute edited audio file, posted to Soundcloud and embedded on the blog or on Exposure.
  3. At least one photo.
  4. A slightly reworked version of the script that reads like a normal news story, similar to the above examples.