Teaching Examples

Storytelling about soldiers, and audio interviews
May 7, 2007, 4:13 am
Filed under: audio, journalism, multimedia, online, slideshows

Thinking about doing more audio slideshows in your newsroom? There’s lots to discuss in this new package from MSNBC.com — Scars from Iraq (also titled “The War After the War”).

First, there are three different stories about three soldiers who have returned from duty in Iraq. Which story is most interesting to you, and why?

Second, there’s the quality of the audio. Technically, all are very good. But more than that, you should think about how a reporter gets this sustained audio from an interview subject. What kinds of questions were asked? Do you know how to get someone to talk at length? Do you know how to listen? Do you know how to send visual cues so that you never need to say “Uh huh” to encourage the speaker? Do you know how to edit this kind of interview? Would these stories be better with nat sound?

Finally, the presentation. Does anyone feel like clicking those labeled buttons on the left? If not, then why are they there at all? Do you want a timer so you know how long each story is? Are you content to sit back and let all three stories run on autoplay? Are the stories too long? Is the package too long?

I’ve seen a lot of stories about soldiers who have come home. There will be more. I think we should think about how we tell these stories, and why people want to hear them. Why are these three stories different from others you have seen and heard? And if you’re going to report one of these stories, what can you learn from the ones that have been told before?

(Thanks to Joe and Zach for sharing their bookmarks on del.icio.us.)

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2 Comments so far
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I watched all of the second story. I think the problem was the story only scratched the surface. Many of the pictures were basically just the guy standing there with different backgrounds. Much of the audio was him saying something that could come out of the mouth of almost any soldier back from Iraq…Information that I’ve already heard over and over.

I think that stories like this audio and photos that show and tell us things on a much more personal level.

When I realized how much of a time commitment it would be to watch all of the first and third stories, I couldn’t do it. I’ve got to leave for work in a couple minutes.

Comment by Angela Grant

I agree — the sameness of the pictures in the second story is a big flaw. And making sure that your subject talks about deeper stuff — if you don’t get that, then maybe the audio isn’t very interesting.

Comment by Mindy McAdams

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