By Mindy McAdams Updated 22 Jan 2011
How to record interviews and natural sound.
- Gathering Audio (2 parts): Part 1: Introduction by Brian Storm and Part 2: A Practical Guide
- Sound in the Story (PDF, 366 KB; 21 pages)
Understanding “room tone” or room ambience:
- Room tone, from MediaCollege.com
Digital audio recorders.
- Basic kit: Gear for the multimedia reporter
- Review: Zoom H2 recorder
- Video: How to use the Zoom H2 (1 min. 36 sec.)
Audacity is a free, open-source audio editing program for Windows, Mac and Linux.
Screencast video tutorials:
Printable document tutorials:
- Super-Fast Guide to Audio Editing (PDF, 290 KB): Everything you need to get started, including download links.
- Editing Audio with Audacity (Part 2) (PDF, 181 KB): Multitrack editing.
- Setting up preferences in Audacity (PDF, 157 KB): Preferences must be set BEFORE you open the original audio file in Audacity!
See also: An online tutorial for starting to use Audacity: Many more short Audacity tutorials linked on the left side of this one!
Convert WMA to WAV with Switch (video, 3 min. 7 sec.): Switch Audio File Converter is a free utility program that works on Windows and Mac. This video shows you how to use it.
Have you had trouble with the “free” version of Switch asking you to pay for it? If so, read this explanation of how to restore it to being FREE.
Ethics in Audio Editing
Journalists need to keep it honest — and accurate.
- Ethical guidelines for editing audio: A compact, clear list of do’s and don’ts, written by a radio journalist with 13 years experience at CBC Radio News
- Truth in audio: Have you crossed an ethical line?
The better you are at asking questions and listening well, the better your story will be.
- Interview Basics (O’Reilly Media)
- Loosening Lips: The Art of the Interview (Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Eric Nalder); also available in a different format at PBS.org
- Video: Conducting the Interview, from The YouTube Reporters’ Center (1 min. 38 sec.)
Narration and Voiceovers (VO)
During editing, you might add your own voice to the interviews you have gathered.
- Preparing yourself to record a voiceover (tips and links)
Writing a Script for Audio
It’s never a good idea to speak off the cuff if you are narrating a story.
- Writing a Radio Script, by Dave Gilson
A Comprehensive Book
Sound Reporting: The NPR Guide to Audio Journalism and Production: This is head and shoulders above every journalism textbook I have read. Fantastic emphasis on storytelling, and hundreds of real-life professional examples and cases. It’s also highly readable and not at all dumbed down.