How to Repurpose Print Stories for Radio and the Gear You Need to Do It

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Many journalists and investigative technical writers try to maximize their time by repurposing their stories for multiple publications. You can do the same for print to radio stories with some preparation, and you don’t need to know how to use Pro Tools sound editing software. You just need a suitable story slant and some decent quality recordings. Public radio shows like “Marketplace” work with print journalists all of the time so can assist with sound production and fine tuning stories for format.

Ideally, a two-track digital recorder with XLR inputs like the Marantz PMD 661 will work best for radio. It offers a stable, noise-free platform with a lot of recording options like the ability to use two lavalier mics. But you can get away with using an Olympus LS10 or newer LS11 which both have good preamps that are not too hissy when the recording gain is increased. Just using an external mic with any cheap digital recorder can drastically improve sound quality.

You want a recorder with sound levels that can be adjusted while recording. This allows you to keep the meter out of the red where the sound will “clip” or distort. You also want the ability to record uncompressed wav sound files with a sampling rate of 44.1 KHz. That’s the same quality as an audio CD. Even the cheap Zoom H1 has this capability.

Don’t use the internal mic since holding the recorder will pick up handling noise. And leaving the recorder on the table is too far from your source to get clean sound. Get a decent handheld mono microphone like the Electro-Voice RE50 , a Sennheiser MD46 or a wired lapel mic and practice using them. You want to learn how to cradle the mic in your hand to minimize handling noise.
A few tips:

  • Hold the mic close to the speaker’s mouth. The farther away you are from your subject, the more that you will have to increase recording levels, which will increase background noise and hiss. This is especially true in noisy rooms or with soft-spoken subjects.
  • Position the mic to the side or below the speaker’s mouth but pointed towards the mouth. This is called being “on axis” and it helps to reduce clicks and pops. A mic windscreen will help as well. Foam windscreens are cheap but fur windscreens work best.
  • Always keep your headphones on and listen to the interview through your recorder. I use the Sony MDR-7502 headphones (http://amzn.to/na31T5) but you can also use earbuds. Turn off automatic sound level settings and limiters, which will wildly fluctuate the volume of your recordings and make them unusable. Frequently check your sound levels and manually adjust them as needed. I find that interview subjects get louder as they get more comfortable.
  • Limit how much movement you make while holding the mic to minimize handling noise. Sit or stand close to your interview subject so that you’re not swinging the mic back and forth.

Record 20 seconds of background sound at the beginning and end of the interview session. This extra helps the sound engineer to make clean editing transitions.

Radio is actually a visual medium so record any extra sounds that are related to the story that can give the story more presence like milk bottles rattling if you’re doing a story on dairy farming.

Journalism Salary Report: Freelance Business Journalists Make $54,091 A Year

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How much are business journalists making in this troubled economy? That’s the question the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism set out to answer during its phone survey of 773 randomly selected business journalists. What they found was that most business journalists make less than they did in the previous years’ study by Society of Business Editors and Writers. In 2009-2001, the median of the 394 journalists surveyed was $60,000-$70,000 per year. This year the median income for U.S. business journalists was $56,220 in 2010-2011.

Here is the breakdown of incomes by business journalists across media.

The research also found this breakdown for median salaries by place of employment in 2010-11:

  • Print: $50,100
  • Freelancing: $54,091
  • Broadcast: $55,588
  • Online: $57,308
  • Wire services: $78,438.

For editors and supervisors overall, the median was $57,308, and for reporters, it was $55,714.

In addition, they found that only 14 percent of those business journalists and content writers surveyed in July mentioned that their newsroom was actively seeking and hiring full-time journalists. As for cutbacks, “one in five said their newsroom had shrunk in the past six months.”

Read the whole article and view the rest of the study’s results here.

 

 

How to Become an Environmental Reporter

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You’ve taken your pulse, read tons of articles on ecological issues, you’re concerned about food policy with all the genetically modified organisms sneaking into our food chain and what about the Mississippi River flooding over its banks with more floods on the way.

Ecological issues abound in the world today and they aren’t going to disappear any time soon.

Here are a number of strategies that will make becoming an environmental reporter a smooth sail:

1) Offer your writing skills to a non-profit dedicated to improving the environment in an area of your interest. Learn what they know, meet people who work in your interest field, and rack up good deed hours–you can even ask some fellow article writers to tag along! Plus, once you are established these are people to revisit to write for pay. Another plus, with the organization’s name on your resume you get instant recognition and value. (Caution: Time is money in the freelance world and there’s no reward for long haul servitude).

2) Learn scientific basics across disciplines. Environmental science isn’t an isolated field of its own, but an intersection where biology, chemistry, physics, and earth science converge. Big stories bring these fields together. Take an environmental course online or at a university. Take the environmental science course offered by the Annenberg Foundation that won a AAAS award.

3) Hook up with social networks. Join LinkedIn and the various environmental subgroups available. Sign up for an account on Twitter and follow as many green, ecological and environmental peeps as you can handle. Once up to speed post motivating environmental dispatches to get like-minded peeps to follow you. Mondays are known as EcoMonday on Twitter. With each environmental post include the hash tag #EcoMonday at the end of the post.

4) Get focused. Environmental issues are broad ranging and limitless. Discover as you go what aspect of the environmental story attracts your passion. Focus that energy around your interest, as it will ignite the story you write allowing it to come alive to your audience.

5) Understand the scientific method by reading as much as possible in the areas you want to write about. Read the Daily Climate , Environmental Health News, Science magazine, Yale Environment 360 and the Open Notebook

6) Attend seminars and conferences for environmental writers. There’s plenty to choose from including Society of Environmental Journalist (SEJ), The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the American Geophysical Union (AGU). Conferences are great places to meet editors of green publications. Join these organizations

7) Kick-start your fund of knowledge, stock up on environmental books. Some of the best ones can be found at the Society of Environmental Journalists. Invest in a high-quality environmental science textbook. And, when you need to expand your mind, tune into the Ted Talks and Ted Conversations.

8.) Apply for an environmental fellowship. Check out Environment America, Multicultural Environmental Leadership Development Initiative and the Society of Environmental Journalists

9) Take a course in multi-media skills. The articles you write will come to life with video or slideshow.

10) Join an environmental writer’s association. A good one is the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) with 1,500 members who are journalists, academics and students working in every type of news media in the United States, Canada and at least 26 other countries. To join go to the Web site for more information

A belief in yourself, the ability to talk yourself through tough times and a positive attitude go a long way to overcoming any obstacles on your path to becoming an environmental reporter.

Oh, and you might need to put your impatience on ice for awhile because you becoming an environmental reporter might not happen overnight, but it will happen at the exact moment when you are ready.

 

 

 

 

Should You Break News on Twitter? Do People Trust Social Media for News? How Should Journalists Use Facebook?

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Today, we have a group of how-to stories for journalists. We have an insight into Facebook’s new journalist page, some advice on how to break stories on your website from the ASNE,  and some tips on how to conduct a stellar Twitter chat session.

It’s all the news fit to blog at Ebyline’s Daily Dose.

Vadim Lavrusik: How journalists can make use of Facebook Pages

“The Facebook News Feed is essentially a social newspaper. With it, you’re able to read and discover news shared by your friends, journalists, and media organizations you like. The personalized news stream includes everything from news about your friends’ lives to their reactions to a news article. It’s not only what is being shared, but who is sharing it that’s important.”

Break news on your website, not on Twitter’

“The American Society of News Editors (ASNE) has issued a social media guide for newspapers with lots of good recommendations, but this one stands out: “Break news on your website, not on Twitter.” Why? Here’s the key part of the explanation from the “10 Best Practices for Social Media” report…”

Traditional Media And Internet More Trusted Than Social Media For Research News

“‘The modern media landscape has become very complex, which creates many more opportunities to communicate with many more people of all ages and backgrounds,” said Kevin Klose, dean, Philip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland. “At the same time, this presents a challenge in communicating about complex issues such as medical and health research findings.’”

Twitter Chats, The Ultimate How To Guide

“Hosting or participating in a twitter chat is a great way to bring a community of people together to dig deeper into a topic of interest. These discussions can help work through issues facing an industry or simply create a real-time forum to chat about an event or product. The concept of hosting or participating in a Twitter chat can be daunting. Let’s break them down to their key elements and explore some of the best practices.”

The 5 must-knows about how readers navigate news online, drawn from new Pew study

How do readers get to news sites? How long do they stay once there? And where do they go when they leave? Just two months after releasing the mammoth State of the News Media 2011 report, my industrious friends at Pew’s Project for Excellence in Journalism have a detailed new report to answer those questions.  Based on analysis of nine months of Nielsen data about the 25 largest U.S. news sites, the study confirms many truisms about online behavior but also yields some surprises.

 

Woodward & Bernstein Talk 21st Century Investigative Journalism, AP Strikes a Temporary Labor Truce, and Jeff Jarvis Talks Tough on News

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For today’s buffet of media news, we have a behind the scenes look at NBC’s Brian Williams, who can crack a joke and break a story at the same time. We also have Jeff Jarvis’ piece on how to save the media industry, and The Daily Dot founder discusses how to save the newspaper and article writing services industry by quitting it. Finally, journo icons Woodward and Bernstein discuss investigative journalism in the 21st century.

It’s all the news fit to blog at Ebyline’s Daily Dose.

NBC’s Williams maintains a strict separation between his journalism and his comedy

““Still, if you’re looking for it, you can occasionally see a glimmer during the ‘Nightly News’ of [the comedian] Brian Williams we’ve come to know,” writes John Swansburg. He’s found a way to inject a touch of levity into the lately all-too-depressing business of delivering the news, to elicit a smile without giving up his gravitas. That’s how finely tuned his comic instrument is.’”

Why I Gave Up the Newspaper to Save Newspapering

“Six months ago, I quit my family’s 179-year-old newspaper company. I left not because newspapers are crumbling — though they are — but because the very thing that has made the old industry so fragile offers hope for the future of journalism.”

Hard economic lessons for news

Jeff Jarvis: “I’m working on a talk that I hope will become the canonical link to my essential message about the business rules and realities of news. I continue to be astonished at the economic naiveté I hear in discussions of the business of news. (Look at this comment thread and and this one.) Here is my answer, the basis of a talk — to be delivered in tweets, in the model of John Paton — and a lesson for my classes. Work in progress. Thoughts so far; please join in….”

AP Strikes Tentative Labor Agreement With News Media Guild

“After six months of negotiations, the Associated Press has reached what it calls a “tentative” deal with the News Media Guild, which represents about 1,200 newsroom and technology employees of the wire service.”

Investigative journalism has its place in digital era, say Woodward and Bernstein

“Investigative journalism of the kind that ultimately brought down the presidency of Richard Nixon still can be produced in the digital era despite the pressures of the 24/7 news cycle, said an all-star panel of journalists April 21 that included Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame.”

 

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