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  • Hearing a story told with human’s voice in a portable device is a much easier way for audience to absorb news than reading newspapers in today’s society, which explains why radio survives well. We tend to love our parents or grandparents to tell us bedtime stories since childhood. Similarly, a vivid audio story can really touch audience’s emotions, especially when the subject is telling their own stories. That is a feature print stories can never compare. The popularity of smartphones today especially makes consumption of radio products convenient. (Kern’s book page 1-3) Listen to the story  “Transgender Woman Finds Acceptance in South Korea”
  • Every second counts in radio products. Time schedules for radio programs are firm. Besides, audience may tune off merely because the 10 seconds they have listened are not so appealing. (page 5-6)
  •  It is important to remind audience repeatedly what story is being told and what stories will be told next. Audience may start to listen to a certain program when the program has started for a while. Reminding audience of what is on air periodically can help those audience figure out what the program is about and what to expect next. (page 5)

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  • It is important for journalists to get out of their newsrooms to learn thoughts and opinions held by different groups of people. If journalists make assumptions about a certain issue using their own values or judgements, there is no way that they give audience a full picture of a certain story. I think the best way for journalists to resolve this problem is to talk to varieties of people, especially groups easily to be ignored. (page 10-16)Listen to the story “Few Americans Support a Western-Led Military Strike In Syria” 
  • A fair and balanced story doesn’t merely mean that quotes from both sides are presented. The most important thing is to get as close to truth as possible. That requires critical thinking about information which has been gathered and careful verification of facts. (page 21-23)
  • Journalists should never make assumptions that anything an interviewee says can be used as a quote. What we should do is to always verify the truthfulness. Quotes which are not true at all can be misleading. (page 16-17)
  • Be careful with every single word used in a news story. One simple word can lead audience think about an issue in a certain way. (page  24)

There are several aspects I like about the audio in the story “A Day At Herring River”.

First of all, regarding to the sound quality of this audio, I think every word the narrator says is clear. The voices of interviewees are also quite clear, especially in the latter part of the audio (when about three minutes are left). The natural sound of river and birds are used as a background sound, which is good.  The reason is that the flowing water and singing birds are not very noisy and they do not compete with the human’s voices. As a result, using that natural sound both provides a comparatively clean background and some natural context.

Secondly, I like the way the audio is edited. The first part of the audio is a man counting the herring, which attracts audience immediately. Audience would want to know why he is doing this and would want to listen to the following part, which is very important to radio programs. The whole audio is constructed in quite a logical way, making the story easy to follow. At first it tells audience there are people counting the herring all day. Then audience hear why those people are doing that and how they do that. Finally, audience learn how those people like doing the counting. Besides, quotes are complete and there are some pauses while interviewees are talking, which make the sentences sound natural. I especially love the part when the woman says how she loves the sound, there is 2-second water flowing sound following.

Thirdly, varieties of sources are interviewed, which makes the story complete and balanced. Since there are too many sources, the audio could be confusing to audience. However, the good thing is that the narrator explains clearly who is talking. That is why Ben Harden said the story would be better if it could be made into a narrative one.

However, there are some aspects I do not like at all.

The first thing is that some of the voices of interviewees in the first one to two minutes are not so clear. For example, we can hear sound of footsteps when the first interviewee is talking. Besides, the volume of interviewees’ voices during the first one to two minutes is sometimes low.

The second thing I don’t like is that the story becomes a little boring in the middle part. There is too much time spent in presenting how those people count the herring. Nearly all of the first three minutes consist of narrator’s explanation and interviewee’s quotes about how they count the herring. What is worse, the tone of the interviewees are quite plain and all of the interviewees in the first five minutes are male. Audience may get bored in the middle part. I think it might be a good idea if audience can quickly get to the section when some female interviewees are expressing why they like to do this in an excited tone.

 

I have learned the importance of adapting audio to webpages and taking advantage of the multi-media feature of web to tell a story in the “Beyond Radio” chapter in “Sound Reporting.” The story “50 Years After March On Washington, John Lewis Still Fights” by NPR I choose does a good job in several ways.

Firstly, this report successfully combines audio with text, phtographs, videos and related stories to give audience a full picture. One of the photos is of John Lewis giving a speech during the anniversary activities and the second is an old photo showing how John Lewis was beaten during a voting rights march in 1965. In this way, audience is directed to look back to the history a little bit. Besides, the video is the whole speech by John Lewis during the 50th anniversary activities. That makes audience access to all the things John Lewis said instead of a few sentences in the audio. Another advantage of posting the whole speech is that, as Kern’s book discusses, audio editors will be more cautious about whether their edited audio misrepresents the speaker.

 The second thing I like about this story is that the audio is of high quality. Although on the webpage, the audio story is accompanied by photos, a video and text, the quality of audio is not compromised. Actually, this audio succeeds in telling a vivid story to audience’s ears. There is a narrator giving background information and telling audience what is happening. And there are several sources expressing their opinions. What John Lewis said in the 1960s is inserted in the audio and the environment background sound like the barking seem to take audience to the real situation. In such ways, the audience never get bored because they form pictures in their mind. Several voices and opinions also help create a full picture of the story and make the story less likely to be one-sided.

Thirdly, the text on the webpage is not same as the audio transcript. The whole transcript version consists of quotes by the host and interviewees and there are things like “(SOUNDBITE OF DOGS BARKING)”. The text accompanying the audio, however, is more like a complete and fluent written news reporting. The text version is in a more organized and concise way to tell a story. When a reader reads the transcript version, he or she only sees what those people are talking. On the contrary, if a reader reads the text version, it would be easier for him or her to quickly get to know the background information of this story, what the story is about and how it develops.

 However, I think this story would be much better if hyperlinks are made full use of. This story contains historical events in the 1960s. If phrases in the text such as “SNCC leadership” and “Bloody Sunday” contain hyperlinks to detailed reporting or background information about the certain historical event, audience will be much better informed.