Archives for posts with tag: The New York Times

All stories can have a visual component, but some stories demand sound as well.

A couple weeks ago, seasoned multimedia pros Nancy Donaldson of The New York Times and Jim Seida of spent three days running journalists through an intensive workshop to teach them how to gather and compose audio narratives.

Whispering Secrets by Cameron Maddux on Flickr

Seida, who takes pride in his audio interviewing skills, shared his tips for getting great sound. From my notes:

  • Wear your headphones. It’s the only way you know what you’re recording. Many an interview has been botched by sounds that you don’t notice but which register loud and clear on your recorder — like cell phone interference.
  • Know your equipment. Read the manual. Practice using your gear. Carry spare batteries and know how to pull the dead ones out and put the fresh ones in. It sounds stupid, but you’ll look stupid when you’re fumbling around during the interview. Worse yet, you’ll be wasting the interviewee’s time and may get bad results because of it.
  • Prop up your mike hand. If you’re holding the mike (you will be if you’re alone in the field) and doing an interview of more than a few minutes, put your elbow on something to reduce fatigue and keep the mike from waving around.
  • Find the quietest possible place to do your interview. Seida says he once interviewed a man in a broom closet because it was the quietest available place and there were no alternatives.
  • Ask open ended questions and ask them in pairs. This tends to cause people to give you a full-sentence answer.
  • Make direct eye contact with your interviewee. Stay silent while the person is talking. If you want to react, use body language. Nod. Smile. And keep that eye contact going.
  • Record the sounds around you at your interview location(s). In journalese, this audio is called “natural sound,” “nat sound” or “wild sound.” What you capture acts as B-roll and gives atmosphere to your story. If you know of other terms, please leave them in comments. I’d love to hear about them.

Seida shares more of his tips in “Gathering audio to go with your pictures.” It’s an excellent read.

Other places to look for pointers and equipment advice include, MediaStorm and the National Press Photographers Association Web Multimedia section.

If you want to improve your interview skills, I recommend a lot of reading. Check out:

Photo: Cameron Maddux/Flickr

Have you heard? Though most Americans still turn to TV to get national and international news, for the first time, the Web has overtaken newspapers as a news source.

In fact, according to a late December blog post by Nielsen Online, about two-thirds of all adults who were on the Web looked for news online in the 30 days prior to the post.

The news business is changing, but people still want information. Let’s not let them down.

To that end, I’m going back to school.

Recording Gear by kino-eye

For the next week, a small group of journalists will attend Beyond Bootcamp at the University of Miami School of Communication to polish their newsgathering skills.

Organizer Rich Beckman says he’s taken the multimedia workshops he held at the University of North Carolina and kicked ’em up a notch. In email, he’s promised we’ll be learning a lot of practical skills during intensive three-day sessions.

I’m especially excited to be learning about infographics from Alberto Cairo of UNC and Xaquin G.V. of The New York Times.

With luck, I’ll be able to apply some of what I’ve learned here. For sure, I’ll be able to share notes when I return.

How about you? If you’re a mid-career journalist or blogger, where are you planning to go and who are you planning to learn from to gather new ideas and keep your skills fresh?

Photo: kino-eye/Flickr