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Can you hear me now?

February 9, 2012

Like other college newspapers the Cerritos College Talon Marks has explored enhancing its news reporting process by introducing multimedia storytelling. We even have a three-unit course to introduce students to interactive, audio and video journalism, even though the only slot in our anemic schedule we’ve been able to plug in to is summer school, which may soon go away.

That leaves it largely to the newspaper course to teach multimedia skills in any meaningful way. Doing so is on top of producing a weekly print publication while teaching students to write and design and producing an online publication that emphasizes publish first and print second (and hopefully providing unique online content).

Any time we can leverage work, we want to do so. Lately, we’ve been emphasizing audio over video.

We have plenty of video cameras and audio recorders left over from our partnership with our Political Science Department from a few years ago where we taught video editing skills for its students, but teaching students to shoot and edit video cuts into valuable time. We don’t do it well.

microphoneSo four semesters ago we launched a different initiative, one that intersects with our efforts to cross-pollinate with our broadcast program. Students like to use the audio recorders to record interviews. While I have reservations about them relying on recordings instead of learning to take good notes, why not leverage this?

Now we ask all reporters to use the recorders, but not just to record notes. We want them to think about turning those recordings into audio stories, something akin to the in-depth stories you would hear on NPR.

We’re not good at it, but we are progressing. To start we partnered with our campus radio station to put together a weekly radio show. The first semester two newspaper students with broadcast backgrounds simply read stories from the print edition and commented on them. Then we started adding raw interviews as a means of enhancing the print stories. Then newspaper students from the broadcast program started writing stories that incorporated more storytelling with sound bytes. Our current phase is to incorporate the reporters into the writing and recording stage.

A weekly news show is weak. We know that. It is merely a vehicle to reach our goal. We want to take those individual stories and attach them to the online versions and we eventually will uncouple them from the weekly show and make them available as standalone stories that can be dropped into other radio shows on the campus radio station.

An immediate benefit from this initiative is to lure more broadcast students into journalism courses, including the student newspaper. Our broadcast program does not really teach broadcast journalism, so our campus newspaper course is filling that void.

As I said, we don’t do a good job yet, but we’re progressing. We’ve even opened up our lab so that next fall the broadcast program will offer a long-planned course in audio editing in our facility. We expect journalism students –now knowing the value of audio stories—will help fill the course. And we’ll see more broadcast students in our facility a couple of times a week; we’re bound to recruit some of them to our courses.

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2 comments

  1. […] will be asked to discuss who was interviewed, what was learned, and more. We already put a lot of emphasis on collecting audio and creating an audio version of the story, so that will be a part of the discussion. Did the audio story materialize? One source or more? […]


  2. […] will be asked to discuss who was interviewed, what was learned, and more. We already put a lot of emphasis on collecting audio and creating an audio version of the story, so that will be a part of the discussion. Did the audio story materialize? One source or more? […]



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