Thoughts on Reporting: What is the Hardest Part About Audio?

Audio is probably one of the more under-rated aspects when it comes to news reporting. It really shouldn’t be. Sound can take us to another place. Sounds are just like photographs within reporting, but instead of seeing the beach and the waves, you hear birds chirping, water crashing against the sand, and laughter. When you open your eyes, you’re not at the beach but your mind took you there with sound.

Thinking of sound, I and many others probably first think of music. Music is a great example when discussing the importance of audio. Now, just like the beach example above, everybody can think of a time where music took them elsewhere. Currently while writing this, I’m listening to the Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep video game soundtrack. I’m being transported back to the first time I ever played the game. When I close my eyes, I can see the environments, the characters, but most importantly, I can hear it all.

This is why audio in reporting is important. It can make or break the story depending on the sounds. Along with a well written story and well taken photos, great audio can completely immerse an audience within the environment of a story. The story tells the audience what’s going on, the photo shows the audience where the story takes place, and the sound allows the story to come to life. In terms of reporting, it is very hard for these three aspects to survive on their own. They must gel together.

The hardest thing about audio is getting good audio. Utilizing sound recording equipment is a fun experience but it can be very tricky. When interviewing someone for an audio piece, you must be in a noise-controlled environment. If not, too many distractions and other noises will interfere with your interview. You have to make sure you can hear this person speak through the microphone. Of course, to do this on the spot, you’ll need headphones. Here’s a free tip: don’t forget your headphones to an audio interview. The interview basically becomes impossible without them due to the fact that you’ll be unsure of what kinds of sounds your recorder is picking up. Headphones allow you to double check what you’re receiving right on the spot.

I digress. Remember to also make sure you’re keeping good posture with your body and your microphone-holding hand. If you have the microphone pointing at a man’s shoes when he confesses to murder, guess what? You don’t have proof that a murderer just confessed to murder. This is the level of stress that has to be placed on the sound-people of America. You are the heroes of the news. Good sound can most definitely make or break a story.

Great sounds aren’t hard to come by, but they are hard to capture. As a journalism beginner, I’ve already had good and bad experiences with audio. It’s easy to be upset because some of your audio clips can be something that you didn’t think you got. It’s just a matter of technique and repetition like everything else. Audio is a field that can be mastered. If you can be calm, find a noise controlled environment, balance your natural sounds, and be a great interviewer, you can be a great audio journalist.

Sound is around us constantly. Reporting the sounds that effect our everyday lives is truly significant to journalism. As I said above, sound can make or break a story. If you miss the sounds of the story, you can ruin an opportunity to immerse the audience in their news experience. Audio must be recognized as one of the key pillars in news reporting. Without it, our imaginations can’t take us to where journalists need us to go.

 

~DS

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