Nothing makes for a great Sunday afternoon quite like listening to NPR in the car. Since I can remember, my family has taken weekend trips to Beaver Lake in Eureka Springs, Ark. On the Sunday drives back home my family would always listen to NPR– usually Prairie Home Companion if we hit it at the right time.
This Sunday I spent yet another afternoon driving and listening to NPR. This time I was alone and driving from my hometown of Kansas City back to Columbia, Mo. for the start of the next school week. I turned on the local NPR station right at the beginning of the On the Media Program, and I listed to a segment called “The Breaking News Consumer’s Handbook.”
The segment caught my attention at first because of its interesting subject matter. The piece discussed the common mistakes most news outlets make when initially covering a mass shooting such as misreporting about the number of shooters and the identity of the shooters. As I continued to listen to the segment, however, I realized I was hearing the audio in a completely different way than I had in my previous 19 years of NPR listening.
The ambient or natural sound of police cars and ambulances jumped out at me when the story discussed past shootings. I heard the clarity of the voices in the interview and decided the reporter had remembered to hold the mic at a diagonal angle in order to avoid popping and hissing noises of the mic. I pondered which editing software the reporter had used and considered how long the 8-minute-long piece had actually taken to gather, edit and produce. In short, I gained a completely new appreciation of audio as a journalism medium.
This week I produced an audio story of my own for my 2150 multimedia class. I returned to Curly Eye Alpaca Farm, where I took pictures two weeks ago. I felt even less comfortable with an audio recorder than I did with a camera. I had at least held a camera before; however, the audio recorder was a completely new experience. I interviewed the couple who owned the farm, and felt uncomfortable by how close I needed to sit to them to get quality audio. About two minutes into one of my interviews I realized that the recorder was on standby instead of record so I had to start again. I also struggled to capture my natural sound at a proper volume. As intimidating as the experience was at first, I really enjoyed the assignment just as I had liked the photo assignment. The process made me aware of elements needed to capture any good story, especially an audio one.
Below is my audio piece about the farm: