Audio Alert

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February 24, 2014 by aderenczau

Recently, I have been learning about audio slideshows in one of my journalism classes at Auburn. While looking at some examples from other student journalists, I came across two  slideshows from students at Indiana University. The first comes from Jesslene Ames. She captures the spirit of a small business, bakery across from campus.

The photo slideshow is The City Bakery

It is hard to not hear your stomach grumble as you watch the slideshow as Jesslene takes you on a behind the scenes tour of the bakery. She goes through each stage of the baking process, from the preparation to the delivery from employee to customer.

The compelling part of her slideshow is that she puts a personal spin on the piece. By this, she focuses it on the owner of the bakery, Robert Himmel. As each photo passes, we are listening to his story of how he got into baking and his thoughts on doing the job he wouldn’t trade for the world.

That meshing of the two drives the slideshow home. The sequences and framing of shots is the “cherry on top” (excuse the pun). One of the shots that sticks out in my mind is at the 19 second mark.

Ames takes a photo from inside the display case that is projecting out to the shop’s patrons. This shot shows us a side of a bakery that we do not get to see. It is almost as if we are put in the role of one the shop’s baked goods. But isn’t that we are already? We are the reason that this man is doing his job, therefore, we are the baked goods.

Like everybody, I try to give a review about what I just looked at. The first thing that comes to mind is the audio. The way that the shop’s owner is telling the story of how he came to loving his job and why he opened up this shop is the perfect background to the pictures. There is a term in making news packages that I am going to use here. They always say, “if hear it, you should see it.” Ames accomplishes that in her piece.

The example that comes to mind is when Himmel talks about it is a small shop that has some quirks, but it is like a family. All the while, we see pictures of the close-quartered shop, and the employees working together.

The captions mesh well with the piece as a whole. There is not a caption that is in the wrong place. The time that each is up is an ideal amount of time, and they run smoothly with the movement to a new photo. There is no dead time or quick cuts. Let’s say she edited this very carefully.

As a watched the show, I kept a file on captions close by. As each caption came on screen, I looked down the bullet points and Ames hits all the necessary parts of writing a good caption. She identifies those in the shot, she does not write blatantly obvious captions. By this, she gives you information that relates to the picture, but isn’t a word for word description of the photo. Her writing is concise and clear, and she tells a compelling story through her captions.

Ames, like many of the student journalists who I work with, never fails to leave me inspired about the field that I want to be in. This goes back to writing about the little guy.

Seeing her work on Himmel and his shop, drives me to go out and do a story on someone who is doing something very similar to Himmel. Everybody has a story, and it is up to us to go out and find it. Ames took the charge and brought a story that nobody knew about.

In doing so, she touched the life of one person and many more.

Along with this, I’d like to ask, why is it important to tell the story of someone who not many people know about?

As I go through this slideshow, I can’t help but look for the journalistic value. I am able to find numerous examples in this piece.

Isn’t one of the best ways to find a story to find and celebrate the little guy? We are constantly hounded by stories about big celebrities and corporations. It is very rare when we see a story about a small business owner doing what they love. We have that in this essay. Ames takes journalistic value to a whole other level by highlighting this small business owner.

My next slideshow comes from another Indiana University student. Her name is Megan Baumgartner, and her piece is called Shae Peppler Shows Us How to Stay in Shape.

Based on the title, what do you think it is about?

For college students, staying fit is a crucial, but overlooked part of coming to college. The “freshman 15” worked hard to get its name.

This is a topic that is always talked about, but I have never seen a piece on it that is done by photos and audio. Right off the bat, Megan is doing a fine job.

What Megan’s focus is in the piece, is to highlight an Indiana University student named Shae Peppler.

When she is not in class, you can find her at the recreation center teaching cardio core classes.

Megan takes us on a day in the life of Shae. We are dropped into the scene with Shae in her room doing some work during down time before a class, then into her preparation before the class starts, then an in-depth look of her teaching the class all the way up to her leaving the class knowing she’ll be back the next day.

Like any story about a person, we need to learn a little about them before we can go any further; it only makes sense.

Megan does that with some establishing shots of Shae in her room coupled with Shae talking about what it is like to be a teacher and why she loves it as well as explaining the type of person she is.

This lays the foundation for us to properly grasp the rest of the slideshow.

From here, we are thrown into one of Peppler’s classes. As we see the up-close, descriptive shots of her teaching, we hear audio of her teaching. The commands that she gives her students along with the photos of her teaching work well together. It’s almost as if we are in the class.

Megan does a real good job of incorporating “if you hear, you should see it.” The first part of Peppler’s audio is her talking about the warmup, and we see pictures of her warming the class up. This is the right way to begin the slideshow.

Now comes the tough part. I loved this slideshow, but me being a perfectionist, I had to look at a couple nit-picking things. The only qualms I have with the slideshow is the audio. It is a little fuzzy, but it is not a major problem.

Baumgartner’s captions hit all the points of writing good cutlines. She doesn’t have captions that tell obvious things. Each one of her captions is a vital part of the story that we need to know, but at the same time they tell us the story from beginning to end.

Her style is crisp and clear.

They are up for just the right amount of time. I was able to read each one from beginning to end before the picture changed.

It was in her captions that I found journalistic value.

The goal of journalism is to tell a story. I have said this over and over again, but each thing whether it be a person or place has a story that needs to be told. The captions tell me who Peppler is, how her class is and other vital things for the story.

Baumgartner hits the goal of journalism on the head with these captions.

Baumgartner’s piece gave me much needed inspiration at a tough time in college. College kids often find themselves bombarded by classwork with little time do something besides class. Seeing this slideshow about a student who is also a teacher, gave me the inspiration to do more extracurricular activities besides the television station. If Peppler can teach a class and go to class; I can do more too.

One of the things that I love about this piece is her shot sequence at the end.

At the end, she has pictures of Peppler leaving the recreation center at the end of class. They are obviously her in motion, and they are edited carefully to make it look like she is walking. They always say to make motion with your photos. Baumgartner takes something so simple as walking and finds a way to put a spin on it with pictures.

Everyday, I am lucky to come across great students doing great things with journalism. These slideshows were concrete evidence as to why I love being a journalist. Ames and Baumgartner are two stars in student journalism.


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