On  April 12 my journalism class watched a Poynter video on natural sound recording. The video lecture – entitled "Natural Sound Packages: Video Storytelling Without Reporter Narration" – featured loads of useful advice on collecting audio and getting soundbites that are great for your story. It was a fantastic informative piece that I learned a lot from, I just wish I had seen it sooner.

 For most of the semester I have been  working on two projects that heavily involve this type of audio narration. One, which will be posted later on this site, has yet to be completed. The other was just published by the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, who I have reviewed in the past. I am very proud of my work on the Beerline Trail story that I did with Alex Rydin, but there were certainly some hiccups that could have been avoided had I known the ins and outs of how to go about collecting audio for a story like this beforehand.

A lot of what was talked about in the Poynter Lecture was obvious, but it seems it was the obvious things that tripped me up. For example, one of the very early things that was talked about in the lecture was that you need to find a great storyteller. When Alex and I began the story our primary source of information was the project manager Chris Grandt. Mr. Grandt was knowledgeable and excited about the project, but he wasn't necessarily the best storyteller, in my opinion. He was more interested in facts, cold hard math. We did find a fantastic storyteller in Mario Costantini, but he didn't have the knowledge of the project to be able to drive the story forward. In a perfect world Mr. Grandt and Mr. Costantini would be the same person, and Alex and I would have gotten the best audio possible. The problem is that we never were able to get someone who could give us the basics. Mr. Costantini didn't really know them, and Mr. Grandt was, at times, so detail oriented that the simple basics weren't an option for him.

Of course, this may also have been my fault. I rediscovered during the lecture that asking the right questions is vitally important, which is something I did not always do. Going into the interviews I had done my research like any good journalist, and was more interested in the detail oriented questions. I never asked the big picture "So what" question right from the beginning, which would have mad mine and Alex's lives a whole lot easier when it came to editing time.

Now don't think that I ruined our story with my mistakes, because I certainly didn't. My story came out very well in the end. I just managed to make my life unnecessarily difficult for a few weeks, which I don't plan on doing again.

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    I'm a native Virginian who traveled to Milwaukee to study Journalism in the Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University. 


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