Use audio editing software to produce a 90-second to 2-minute audio story on your topic (5 seconds of wiggle room – but anything beyond that is -5 points per second over/under time). The piece is an audio sidebar, fleshing out some angle of your topic that you find interesting but are not fully addressing in the text version. You must also provide a transcript of your audio story to your TA.
We ask that you use Adobe Audition to edit your audio pieces. To get this piece on your final site, you’ll want to upload it to Soundcloud. You can embed that Soundcloud link directly onto your site (for free).
Do not fall into the trap of simply retelling your text story in audio. Think about a distinct angle and how audio can bring to life something that might not have come through in text. Use the medium for all it is worth.
To submit: Upload the mp3 file of your story, the full audio of the interviews you used for the story and a transcript of your story to Canvas. You’ll eventually upload your story to Soundcloud. That link doesn’t have to be live by deadline — just the mp3 of the story and transcript files are due on Canvas by deadline. The Soundcloud link is due when the final IS sites are due (Week 11 lecture). You MUST keep audio for all interviews in case you are asked to provide them to your TA or instructor for review. If you don’t have them, you will receive a zero for that segment of the grade.
How should I format my audio story? In other words, what should it sound like?
The audio story should be a blend of narration by a reporter (you!) and sound from your source or sources that’s edited together to make a story. It should NOT be 90 seconds of a raw interview or 90 seconds of different interviews strung together with no real storytelling factor. While it’s possible to create an audio story solely from interviews and natural sound, we ask that you incorporate reporter narration into this audio piece. The audio stories work best as “radio news” pieces (think back to the audio story you put together as a group about the train crash). Here are some examples of what your audio story might sound like:
- Craft brew sales – basic audio format, simple but well done
- Local restaurant on wheels – this is an award-winning piece from a pro
- WSUM students – student example, great opening with natural sound
- Recruiting via Twitter – a good example, from a student, of how to work with a story that doesn’t lend itself to natural sound
Can I use interviews for the audio story that I used for my other stories?
Sure. You just can’t use the same quotes. The reason is that you should have a different focus for the audio story. This focus will be narrower than the focus in your main story. For example, if my topic is Slow Food, then my main IS story outlines what the movement is, how it works on campus — and probably includes personal accounts from those involved in the organization. My audio story might focus directly on the Friday night dinners that Slow Food does on campus, with a lot of natural sound from the event itself and soundbites from maybe one person who attended the dinner and one person who helped organize it. Your main story probably mentioned the fact that these dinners take place, but your audio story focuses entirely on the event.
Do I have to have source soundbites in my audio story?
Yes. It can’t just be an audio file of you telling a story.
My source feels uncomfortable being recorded. Can they write down their answers to the questions and then read them while I record, so they don’t feel self-conscious about screwing up the wording?
No. You need to find a way to make your source feel comfortable. Having your source read from a script, beyond being awkward and obvious on the recording, is unethical. There is no way for the listener to know that you or someone else didn’t write the script for the source to read. It’s important for the listener to know sources are providing their own perspective, in their own words.
Let me say this again — handing your source a script (even if it is a transcription of something they’ve said before) and having that person read it into your recorder is unethical. You should know it’s easy for us to tell when someone is reading and not speaking naturally in an interview. If you do this, you’ll get a zero on this assignment and an F for the IS segment of the grade.
I don’t have the natural sound I need for my story. Can I just use some pre-made sound effects?
No, any natural sound you use should be just that, natural. Here’s why.
My story is a few seconds over the required time limit for the assignment. Can I speed up the audio to get it in under the two-minute limit?
No. For one, your listener can tell the audio has been sped up, and it’s harder for the audience to take in. It’s also not authentic. Instead you should look for places to tighten your script and other soundbites to get the story to fit into the required time frame.