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How to record audio interviews using Facebook’s new video option

Facebook’s new video service gives journalists an alternative way to record quality audio for radio broadcasts and podcasts.

You will only be able to call your Facebook friends, so it will no doubt have limits for journalists who prefer to keep their Facebook profiles private and as a space for friends rather than professional contacts.

This is where Google+ (plus) could be useful, which has a video viewer, plus the option of group video chats allowing you to create a group discussion for a podcast and record it. There are details of how to record audio using Google+ in this post and details of how to record from Skype in this post.

To record quality audio using Facebook:

1. Download Audio Hijack Pro for Macs (there is a free trial version) or try a recorder for Windows;

2. Download video calling for Facebook by clicking here;

3. Make sure you are friends with the person you want to call, that you can see a green button beside their name and click the video logo. They will have to go through the one-time install for the video recorder if they have not already done so;

4. Select the ‘default system input’ button in Audio Hijack and click record;

5. You can then view and edit the MP3 or AIFF file.

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Ten ways journalists can use Google+

Since Google+ (plus) was launched a week ago those who have managed to get invites to the latest social network have been testing out circles, streams and trying to work out how it fits alongside Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Here are 10 ways Google+ can be used for building contacts, news gathering and sharing:

1. As “a Facebook for your tweeps”

This is how Allan Donald has described Google+ in an update. And it is pretty good way of understanding it. A week on from its launch and it seems you are more likely to add and be added by Twitter contacts, many of whom you have never met, than Facebook friends or even LinkedIn contacts.

2. As a Delicious for your Twitter contacts

As the Google+1 button takes off and your contacts recommend articles (Google +1 is like Facebook’s like button), you can keep track of what they like by taking a look at what they are +1ing and use it like a bookmarking service to flag up articles to read later.

Reading what others are +1ing relies on users changing their settings as the standard set-up does not allow +1s to be viewed by others.

3. To check Twitter updates via Buzz

If you signed up to Google Buzz, you will find tweets are included in your profile. It is another way you can read the most recent tweets from your contacts.

4. To create and share in circles

One of the foundations of Google+ and how it differs from Facebook is the circles function. There are suggested circles such as ‘family’, ‘friends’ and ‘acquaintances’ but you can add your own. For example, you could have a ‘journalists’ circle, a ‘contacts’ circle and categorise others by a specialist topic or a geographic area you report on. You can then choose to share updates, photos, videos and documents with particular circles.

5. To crowdsource circles

You can ask a question to those within one or more of your circles. For example, I might want to ask those in my ‘journalists’ circle a question without my ‘family’ circle being included.

6. For searching and sharing content using sparks

Search for any word or phrase in sparks and you will find news items. Google+ uses Google+1 recommendations and Google Search to influence the items that appear in your sparks list. After searching you can then share content with the people in your circles and therefore read and share news without leaving the Google+ site.

7. For promoting content and discussing it

“Automated spewing of headlines likely won’t be effective, but conversing will,” journalism professor and media commentator Jeff Jarvis has predicted in a post. Content is shared and users comment like they would on a Facebook post.

8. For carrying out and recording interviews

Google+ includes the option of instant messaging, video calling and voice chatting with your contacts, similar to Skype. It may well be found to be quite a handy tool when you can see your contacts online and call them. Contacts do not need to be members of Google+ as you can chat with your Gmail contacts.

One option is recording the chat for your notes or for audio and video content for a news site or podcast. One way to record audio is download Audio Hijack Pro (Mac), select the Google Talk plugin (you may find you need your Gmail open to find this as an option) and record. A quick test has proved this provides podcast-quality audio that can be easily edited.

There are various recording options for Windows.

9. For collaborating on Google Docs by circle

This nifty feature which marries Google Docs and Google+ is really handy for those working on a big story or organising spreadsheets with work colleagues. For example, you can create a circle of your work colleagues, go to Google Docs, check the tick box to select the relevant document, go to share in the black Google bar along the top of your window, and share the document with your relevant circle.

10. For wider collaborative projects

Okay, so you cannot yet but it is included as it is likely that Google+ will adopt some of the functions of Google Wave which would allow you to comment and collaborate on articles and projects.

 

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Five nifty ideas for journalists using SoundCloud

The number of users of SoundCloud has jumped by four million in the past year and the audio recording and sharing platform is increasingly being used by journalists and news organisations, one of its founders, Alexander Ljung, told Journalism.co.uk.

Here are five ideas to help journalists expand their use of SoundCloud.

1. Produce a daily or weekly podcast-like audio round-up

Take a leaf out of the Next Web‘s book. The hugely popular blog produces daily round-up of the previous day’s top tech stories and delivers them to followers’ dashboards in an under five minutes morning update, or Daily Dose, as it is called.

You can also create an RSS feed to automatically send SoundCloud recordings to iTunes as podcasts. This SoundCloud option is currently in beta but if it is not available in your account as present, it may be worth contacting SoundCloud to request it.

2. Add existing audio to SoundCloud

If you have audio on webpages, a third-party app called SoundCloud Importer makes it possible to upload this audio to SoundCloud simply by entering the URL.

3. Record, edit and upload a recording from your iPhone

If you’re out in the field you can edit a complicated audio packages using multitrack recording using VC Audio Pro, which allows you to record, edit and then post directly to SoundCloud. Other apps with edit features include FiRe 2 – Field Recorder and iRig Recorder.

The SoundCloud apps gallery has an ever increasing number of interesting options to explore, from desktop audio editing packages to ways to share and distribute audio.

4. Change the colour of your embed widget to suit your website

This is a really simple option of changing SoundCloud orange to a colour to suit your site. Simply follow the prompts from the share and embed option.

5. Add the SoundCloud plugin to WordPress

WordPress users can install a plugin called SoundCloud Shortcode. It allows you to easily integrate a player widget for a track, set or group from SoundCloud by using the code generated from the share option within SoundCloud.

Related content

How to: record phone interviews on iPhone, Android or landline

How to: Liveblog – lessons from news sites

 

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Rosie Niven: New Audioboo message feature a boon for journalists

London-based journalist Rosie Niven has some interesting thoughts on her blog about how journalists can make use of the recently launched personal messaging service from Audioboo.

The site sent an email to some users yesterday detailing the new service, which Niven says could be a useful tool for journalists, such as the sharing of audio quotes between sources and journalists.

The privacy that the personal messaging service offers is likely to increase Audioboo’s use as a way of quickly recording and sharing quotes. Of course, it relies on both parties being tech savvy and Audioboo users. However, as mobile platforms are added, I can see personal messages becoming yet another tool for anyone whose job includes interviewing people.

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Audio interviews: a simple way to improve your online offering

If you’re looking for a new way to offer content to your online audience, Christine Gallagher at socialmediatoday.com discusses the value in multimedia platforms, in particular audio interviews on topics of interest.

She says it is a ‘win-win’ situation for online content providers, their audiences and sources alike.

By doing so you will be providing valuable content to your audience while building relationships with the people you interview. I have developed a deeper relationship with each person that I have interviewed on my online radio show and my listeners are really enjoying the content.

She offers advice on who to interview, what to ask, how to record it and the best way to maximise the impact of the end product online.

See the full post here…

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Tracy Boyer: From photography to multimedia – making the transition

March 17th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Multimedia, Photography

This presentation by multimedia journalist Tracy Boyer below looks at making the transition from photography to multimedia. While the slideshow is missing the original audio from her presentation covers when and how using multimedia can enhance your images:


(via Professor Kobre’s Guide to Videojournalism)

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@Documentally: The ultimate journalistic recording tool?

‘Freelance mobile media maker’ Christian Payne (aka @documentally) discusses the multimedia benefits, and potential for journalists, of his new Lumix GH1 hybrid digital camera (with video and audio) in this AudioBoo recording:

Watch out for Christian Payne at our news:rewired event next week.

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Audio: Paul Foot Award winner Ian Cobain on investigative journalism

November 3rd, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Events

Last night Guardian senior reporter Ian Cobain took the 2009 Paul Foot Award for campaigning journalism for his investigation into Britain’s involvement in the torture of terror suspects detained overseas.

Speaking at the Private Eye and Guardian sponsored award, Eye editor Ian Hislop said investigative reporting had come under threat from both the recession and some key legal actions in the last year:

“[Investigative reporting] needs encouraging for obvious reasons, particularly in a recession: it’s difficult; it’s slow; it’s expensive; it’s risky. There’s no advertising. There are very few local newspapers. People are more interested in the death of the dinner party as a subject to fill a paper.”

Journalism.co.uk spoke to Cobain after the awards ceremony to find out his views on the future of investigative journalism:

And how he selects his subjects:

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Adam Westbrook: 6×6 audio for freelance journalists

August 26th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Freelance

This is the fifth post in a series of six blog posts by Adam Westbrook, each with six tips for the next generation of freelance multimedia journalists, republished here with permission.

Follow the series at this link or visit Adam’s blog.

Audio
Audio is one of the most powerful mediums available to the multimedia journalist. Whether it’s radio, podcasts, on video or audio slideshows, audio brings a piece to life. So why is it almost always an afterthought? Too many good films and audio slideshows have been let down by bad quality audio. Here are six tips to make sure that doesn’t happen to you:

1) Let sound breathe

“[A]s soon as a voice comes out of the speakers, the listener attempts to visualise what he hears to create in the mind’s eye the owner of the voice (…) unlike where the pictures are limited to the size of the screen, radio pictures are any size you care to make them.”

Robert McLeish, Radio Production

In other words, with audio your limit is the size of your imagination. Last time I checked, that was pretty big.

So for the love of God, show audio some respect. First off a piece of audio does not have to consist entirely of voices with no gaps in between. In fact that sucks. When you’re out recording, take a moment to listen for sounds – in radio it’s called actuality and it is a key ingredient in bringing sound to life. Doing a story about some people on a boat? We want to hear the water lapping up against the bow. Is your scene in a cafe? Let’s hear the cups clinking, the chatter of everyday conversation, the whoosh! of the coffee machine in action.

This more often than not is recorded as wildtrack. After filming, taking photos, interviewing, whatever, record at least 60 seconds of actuality. It’ll make editing a lot easier too.

Let the audio breathe. Give it a few seconds just to play in your listeners’ imaginations and don’t talk over it. It’ll do more to paint a picture than overladen voice over will.

2) Invest in a good microphone
Audio is so often an afterthought for video and photojournalists alike. This is mostly manifested in using a crap microphone. VJs – don’t use your camera’s onboard mic unless you’re lucky to have something nice like a Canon XL2, Sony EX3, Z1 etc. If you can, buy an external microphone to attach to your camera’s horseshoe. For interviews, it is worth investing in a lapel mic.

Rodemic do some pretty decent offers, including a camera mic for under £100 ($180). For radio journalists, or photojournalists doing audio slideshows, there are a good range of digital audio recorders you can look at. The Marantz PMD620 is small, easy to use and so reliable you’d let it babysit your kids. I took it out to Iraq earlier this year and it was great. It starts at around £300/$500.

The Edirol R-09HR (£211/$349)  has had produced some great sounding audio for freelancer Ciara Leeming and journalists are raving about the Olympus DS-40(£82/$135).

3) Get the mic in close
Microphones do not have selective hearing like our ears do: they won’t pick out the voice across the room you’re pointing them at. So get in close to your interviewee – really close – like a little under their chin (if they’re ok with that). It eliminates a lot of background noise, like air conditioning, traffic, squeaks of chairs and all that. And more often than not it gives the recording a richness and an intimacy.

Compare, for example, the effect of these two recordings: the first with a mic held too far away in a large room, the other with it right in close.

Another great tip I picked up: if you can, record your interviews outside – it eliminates that shallow echo you get in peoples’ offices and living rooms.

4) Let the characters talk
A bit of a personal bugbear this, but often the temptation with multimedia projects is to talk all over them, y’know, like they do on the TV and that. But new media means new ways of doing things. And I think one of the great new trends emerging is the silencing of the journalist/reporter voice over.

If you’ve recorded some great audio for your story, let it breathe – let the characters tell their own story. We don’t need to hear you saying, ‘Angie is a mum of three struggling to make ends meet’, when we can hear Angie saying, ‘Things are really hard right now, tryin’ to support three kids, y’know, payin’ the bills… every day’s a struggle.’

This takes some planning in the interview stages – most of all, you need to ask open questions, so your interviewees’ answers start as full sentences. It has been industry practice for many years to ask interviewees to include your question in their answer:

Why are you finding it so hard to make ends meet?

I’m finding it so hard to make ends meet because….etc.

5) Use pauses
If you’re new to using audio, especially if you’re moving from print or photojournalism, the first thing you will notice when you listen back to your interviews is yourself. Going ‘uhuh, yeah, hmmmm, sure…’ all over their answers.

Ask a question – then keep shtum. This pays dividends in some interviews – especially emotional ones – where your interviewee finishes their point. There’s a pause… you would normally fill it by asking a question… but don’t. Stay silent – and let the interviewee fill the pause. It’s a bit mean, but it gets them to reiterate their point, and in the process show what they’re really thinking.

And then keep those pauses in your piece. They are a natural part of speech and often reveal more about your character than their words.

6) Take them on a journey
There are times when it’s right to bring yourself into the piece. But try not to use it just for dry voice overs recorded in a studio. Your voice is best when you’re somewhere your audience wants to be, and you can show them what it’s like.

To achieve this, you’ll need to be very descriptive in your writing. Tell people where you are and what you’re doing in vivid detail.

For the best examples, we have to go way back, to the first broadcast journalists:

“I began to see what was happening to Berlin. The small incendiaries were going down like a fistful of white rice thrown on a piece of black velvet. The cookies – the 4,000-pound high explosives – were bursting below like great sunflowers gone mad.

“And then, as we started down again still held in the light, I remembered that the Dog still had one of those cookies and a whole basket of incendiaries in his belly. And the light still held it, and I was very frightened. I looked down, and the white fires had turned red. They were beginning to merge and spread, just like butter does on a hot plate.”

Ed Murrow, on a bombing raid over Berlin, 1944

Or:

There were perhaps a 150 of them, all so thin that their skin glistened like stretched rubber on their bones. Some of the poor starved creatures whose bodies were there looked so utterly unreal and inhuman that I could have imagined that they’d never lived at all. They were like polished skeletons, the skeletons that medical students like to play practical jokes with.

“At one end of the pile a cluster of men and women were gathered round a small fire. They were using rags and old shoes taken from the bodies to keep it alight.”

Richard Dimbleby at Bergen Belsen, 1945

The BBC’s Alan Little is one of the finest radio writers, still alive – here’s his advice:

“Try to use old words, words that reach into the very core, the very oldest part of the language. They have the most impact (…) beware of adjectives. This is a rule I keep breaking and I have to exercise great vigilance to rein myself in. Adjectives are fine in moderation and when they genuinely add to the meaning or clarity of the image being conveyed.”

The final word…
From award-winning multimedia producers Duckrabbit, the combo of a great photographer and a great audio producer:

“Many great photographers make really bad audio slideshows because they treat audio as afterthought, or they try to do a voiceover without having any presentation skills. They might as well not bother.

“Actually I’d go further then that. When you put your photos together with poor audio you actually diminish the value of your photos. Good audio is like a bad dog. It gets its teeth into you and won’t let go.”

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Freelancers’ resources: ‘Podcast for Freelancers’

May 22nd, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Freelance

Stumbled across a Twitter link to an audio update, on the website Audioboo, aimed at freelance workers.

FreelanceKnight is doing a great job of posting quick audio tips to the site (you can see his account here) and has a great website, which focuses predominantly on how freelancers can make the most of online and social media tools.

Or follow FreelanceKnight on Twitter.

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