This Week’s Headlines: Portable eBooks and a Vanishing Paywall

Two book-turned-movie phenomenons made headlines this week. First, movie-goers flocked to theaters last weekend for the opening of The Hunger Games, based on the popular YA books by Suzanne Collins, and later, J.K. Rowling released Harry Potter in ebook format. But those weren’t the only news stories this week. Here’s what’s happening in the media and publishing worlds.
  • The newsonomics of 100 products a year: News industry analyst Ken Doctor predicts that news organizations will soon cash in on what he call the 100-product-a-year model, producing ebooks and other products to monetize content. Earlier this month, we covered how one newspaper created a multimedia ebook by repurposing content from its website.
  • The New Republic Tears Down Its Pay Wall: With Facebook founder Chris Hughes at the helm of the Washington political magazine, The New Republic has removed its pay wall for recent articles. As we reported last week, The New York Times is reducing the number of articles available for free per month.
  • Daily Variety up for sale: Tinsel Town’s oldest entertainment industry trade pub is up for sale. It’s the only remaining print daily publication to exclusively cover the entertainment business, which experts say could lead to a sales price as high as $50 million.
  • Hunger Games and archery: A quick way to approach a trend story: This behind-the-scenes analysis of how the hit movie is making archery cool looks at how journalists and article writers spot trends.
  • Harry Potter and the Portable E-books: On Tuesday, the Harry Potter books went on sale in electronic form for the first time. Unlike most other ebooks, though, these books don’t use encryption, so readers have more flexibility to move them between devices and read them wherever they’d like. Amazon currently dominates ebook sales, but J.K. Rowling’s new web store, Pottermore, could shift the industry if it proves successful.
  • NPR experiments with local news headlines on national home page: For the next month, NPR plans to experiment with using local headlines from 13 cities on NPR.org. The goal is to use the website to shine the spotlight on member stations’ newsgathering and grow their audience long-term.

What’s in the Bag of a Freelance Radio Reporter?

audiogear

Friends have asked me why I’ve invested so much time and expense in radio gear since I mostly write for print. Simply put, I love turning in fully produced, turnkey stories and radio shows pay more for the effort. Piecing together music, interviews and sound effects is like creating an editorial illustration, which is something that I’ve done for years and enjoy. Both are very visual and conceptual mediums.

Of course, you don’t need as much gear as shown in the photo to freelance in radio, but I plan on doing more in the near future – an eye-opening experience for any freelance writers who want to do more.

A: Marantz PMD670 digital, two-track audio recorder – Marantz makes smaller, lighter recorders now (PMD 660, 661) but they don’t have as many features as the full-sized recorders, and their preamps are a bit noisy. Oade Brothers offers a nice retrofit that really improves noise on all Marantz digital recorders

B: Sennheiser MD46 cardioid dynamic microphone – Great interview mic with low handling noise and a heart-shaped pickup pattern that records from the front and sides. Durable, too. It’s survived a few drops

C: Gooseneck mic stand – Heavy but solid. Cast iron base isn’t easily knocked over

D: Audio-Technica microphone shock mount with hotshoe adapter for use on my DSLR camera

E: Audio-Technica AT835b condenser microphone – Directional mic that’s useful for noisy rooms or to record sound from afar. Very sensitive to handling noise

E: 2 XLR mic cables 5-foot/15-foot for use with the Marantz recorder

F: Sony MDR-7502 field headphones

H: Church Audio preamp – Gives my small recorders a pickup boost when using less sensitive dynamic mics. Also improves the sound on my DSLR when recording video

I: JK Audio Quick Tap – Allows me to record decent quality telephone interview sound for broadcast use

J: Audio-Technica ATR-3350 wired lavalier mic – Great way to get clean and consistent sound from a subject that’s either moving or in a loud room. I’ll use this lav mic with the Olympus LS10 clipped to the subject’s belt or in a pouch

K: Olympus WS-300M digital recorder – It’s small and can plug directly into the
computer like a USB thumb drive. I still use it to record ambient sounds or sound effects like a closing door, footsteps, restaurant noises. A single AAA battery doesn’t give you much recording time

L: Olympus LS10 digital recorder – Great small recorder that I use for all of my print story interviews. It has good preamps so also works very well for radio

M: JVC earbuds – Low profile way to monitor sound

N: Church Audio 1/8” plug-in omnidirectional dynamic mic – Cheapest way to drastically improve recording quality on a small recorder

O: Sony MDR-V6 studio headphones – I use these “cans” while doing sound editing on my desktop computer at home

Not Shown:
1 XLR to 1/8” mic cable for small recorders

Bogen monopod – I use this if I need a boom for the mic. Works alright but heavy. I’ll eventually buy a Rode Boompole

Asus 15” laptop and desktop with Sony Sound Forge and Audacity. Ideally, Pro
Tools is the standard software editor in radio but it’s expensive and has a steep learning curve.

Audacity is free, feature rich and Sound Forge allows me to clean up the work

Sennheiser G3 wireless lav mic – Great wireless system but pricey. I borrow this from a friend when needed

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