Tuesday, November 29, 2016

My justification as to why audio lesson is a vital part of photoj curriculum

This is the very first audio story recorded and produced by Owens Visual Storytelling student Suzanne Caris, published on the Owens Outlook online student newspaper Nov. 28. 
WGTE's Haley Taylor explains her strategy for producing her Rough Draft Diaries series at the Toledo station.
   I received a negative comment on an instructor evaluation last semester from a Wayne State Digital Photojournalism student.
   That student wrote, and I quote: “Why in the f--- are we editing sound?”
   A few years ago I would have asked that same question, but not now. Gone are the days when photojournalists simply take still photos and write captions.   
   I try to make it pretty clear throughout each semester that photojournalism is rapidly evolving, expanding, transforming, and yes, getting harder. We are multitasking; being spread too thin; and doing more for less. Photojournalists now shoot video (and some even fly drones and do VR and 3D work), while journalists can be expected to shoot their own still photos and videos, as well.
   All three of my classes (Wayne State, Kent State and Owens) are either creating audio slideshows or podcasting. So, as a photojournalism instructor, it's my job to expose students to basic audio capture and production.
   That’s why they are editing sound.
   The WSU Digital Photojournalism course is an intense introduction class that is filled with journalism, broadcasting and public relation majors. They learn the basics of the DSLR camera, how to write captions, and their First Amendment rights. They also shoot feature, portrait and sports assignments for practical experience.
   For their final project, they shoot and produce an audio slideshow, which requires an audio track. They shoot the story, and also record interviews and capture ambient sound, if appropriate. The students can add royalty-free music if it benefits the story.
   The audio is recorded with their cell phones, a recording device or their cameras, and then edited using Audacity, a free multi-track audio editor and recorder that is installed on all of the MAC computers in the classroom. Adobe Premiere Pro CCis used for the audio slideshow production.
Haley Taylor's strategy for a Rough Draft Diaries show.
   For the Visual Storytelling course at Owens, I added podcasting to the curriculum this semester. 
    According to Dictionary.com, a podcast is a digital audio or video file or recording, usually part of a themed series, that can be downloaded from a website to a media player or computer.
   To kick off the audio lesson we took a field trip to WGTE Public Radio in Toledo in October. We were given a tour by Cathy Kamenca, and podcaster Haley Taylor was gracious enough to show us how she produces her Rough Draft Diaries series.   
   Then the students hit the ground running. They used either the Zoom H2 recorder or their cell phones to capture the audio; edited their files using Audacity, and uploaded their stories on either audioBoom or SoundCloud.
   Their audio stories are currently airing weekly on the Owens Outlook student newspaper.
   This new audio lesson, which is pretty basic, is appropriate for this course, considering the Visual Storytelling class is now a requirement course in the new broadcasting major.
   The Owens Outlook staff is pondering a name and branding image for the podcasts. It’s unclear at the time the direction we’ll go with them.
   After all, this class, like photojournalism, is still evolving, transforming and expanding.

   To listen to my first effort at podcasting for the Toledo Blade, go here.
WGTE's Cathy Kamenca, second from right, gives the Owens' Visual Storytelling students a tour of the Toledo studio.

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