Boot Camp Day 1: A trip to Pegram with a Pregnant Woman

Colleen Olson, a freelance voiceover artist from Sioux Falls, SD, helped me learn how to edit audio on Day 1 of the Boot Camp.

NASHVILLE–  Greetings from the Music City where I am just starting a five-day multimedia boot camp designed to help me as a instructor learn to better shoot, edit and tell stories across platforms.

I’m here at The Freedom Forum’s John Siegenthaler Center on Vanderbilt University’s campus with 11 other colleagues from various universities, newspapers and other outlets.

Today’s highlight was our first assignment– to shoot photos and gather audio for an audio photo gallery.   We worked in teams of two and I had the pleasure of having a top-notch freelance voiceover artist from South Dakota, who is with child.

Don’t get me wrong– the fact that my partner, Colleen Olson, is pregnant  had little impact on her abilities behind the camera or in front of the computer when it comes to audio editing.

She was great as we traveled to Pegram, Tennessee, a small town about 20 minutes west of Nashville.

Photos and Sound  in Pegram

It was like I was working at the TV station all over again.  I felt like I was a reporter or a field producer as I went out on assignment.

We found our interview subject, Teva, to have a great story, but under less than optimum conditions for recording audio.  My job was to make sure we had good, clean audio for our project.

It’s a miracle!   I think we actually managed to get some usable audio.  And, we didn’t use a very high-end recorder to gather it.

Day 1’s Most Important Lessons

Even before we went out on our first assignment, our instructors here at the Siegenthaler Center,  Val Hoeppner and Anne Medley, started filling our heads with what is nothing short of the best multimedia insight I’ve received since my days doing a workshop at The Poynter Institute.

It was all set up by Jack Marsh, the vice president for diversity programs and the director at one of The Freedom Forum’s other locations, the Al Neuharth Media Center at University of South Dakota.

“We believe the walls are gone between broadcast and print,” Marsh said.  ” Print majors and broadcast majors– these days are gone.”

Yeh, I heard this talked about years ago.   Now as a broadcast news producer by trade sitting next to an veteran photojournalist from Hagerstown, Maryland, I can see what Marsh was saying.

Coleen’s specialty clearly was in taking photos and doing voicework.  But, she edited the audio in our project like a pro.

I teach multimedia journalism and think I know a little about the subject. But, there were some definite lessons to take back to Tuscaloosa from this first day:

  1. The “broadcast model” of talking and telling doesn’t work well online.
  2. Multimedia is more than just video and still photographs.
  3. Multimedia includes such things as a panorama, data and graphics, timelines , maps and a time lapse.
  4. Good audio makes you “feel more deeply.”
  5. Use blog postings like this or copy blocks and bullets to give the 5 w’s and H instead of trying put every story detail in a video or photo piece.
  6. There’s a difference between “enhancing the story” and “mirroring the story.”
  7. In the online environment, it’s all about “time on site.”
  8. Our online audience wants depth and TV stations shoveling out news packages aren’t providing it.

Author: George Daniels

George L. Daniels is an associate professor of journalism at the University of Alabama. After spending eight years in the local television newsroom working as a producer at stations in Richmond, Virginia; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Atlanta, Georgia, Daniels moved from the newsroom to the classroom. He’s conducted research on diversity issues in the media workplace and change in the television newsroom as well as media convergence. Before going to work in television news, Daniels worked briefly as a freelance writer for The Richmond Free Press in his hometown of Richmond, Va.

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