After 100 years of one-way radio broadcasting with linear programming, we have entered a new era of digital audio that opens up immense possibilities for journalists to explore to tell stories and interact with audiences using, by example, podcasts, voice assistants and social audio. It’s the new frontier in audio storytelling!
To help journalists work in this new era, the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas is offering a new online course on the fundamentals of audio storytelling, from finding a purpose to writing and interviewing, in going through vocal performance.
“Audio storytelling for journalists: how to tell stories on podcasts, voice assistants, social media and beyond” is taught by instructor Tamar Charney of NPR, the leading public radio news network in the United States, and runs from October 18 to November 14, 2021. Click here for more information and instructions on how to register!
For Charney, audio is a powerful storytelling format for several reasons.
âFirst, it engages your imagination because when you listen, your mind paints pictures of what you are being told,â she said. Also, there is just something about listening to a human voice that helps you feel emotionally connected to the situation. There is a reason audio storytelling has persisted throughout human history. – it’s just a really effective way to connect with another human being. “
Charney previously taught a massive open online course (MOOC) in digital audio storytelling for the Knight Center, which attracted nearly 4,000 people. However, this special course, which is a BOC (Big Online Course), will be more advanced and limited to a few hundred students, instead of thousands. Due to the smaller size of the course, there is more room for interaction between the students and the instructor.
âThis course delves into how you actually create an audio project and teaches some of the foundational skills you need to be effective in audio,â said the instructor. âWe’ll see how to focus a story, how to prepare for an interview, how to sound good behind a microphone and how to get good sound on the pitch. Throughout the course, I encourage students to start making a production plan for an audio project.
The course will be taught in four weekly modules, each focusing on a particular topic.
- The first week will focus on getting started with audio, reviewing the strengths of the format, defining your audience, and creating a project plan.
- Week two opens up your toolkit for examining writing and interviewing and building your story, including ear writing and screenwriting.
- The third week examines the vocal performances, the sound recording and the staging of your story.
- Week 4 shows how to make sure your story is heard, including audio opportunities beyond podcasting and pitching your project.
Charney will teach the course using videos, presentations, readings, discussion boards and weekly quizzes. She will also be accompanied by guest speakers.
âI was thinking of people who could pull the curtain down on various components of audio storytelling and people who are really amazing at what they do,â she explained. “I also wanted to introduce some of the elements of creating a successful audio project that are crucial, but maybe not discussed enough.”
âThat’s why I’m so excited that Netflix’s N’Jeri Eaton is talking to us about what it takes to pitch a project. Alison MacAdam talks to us about editing. And Niala Boodhoo talks about the art of interviewing, âshe continued.â But, of course, I also wanted a voice coach to give me some wisdom to sound good, which is why I invited Valerie Geller to join us. “
Among the other guest speakers: Serri Graslie, editorial strategist; Julie Shapiro, executive producer of PRX’s Radiotopia; Andrew Sussman, editor at NPR; and Ramtin Arablouei, host, producer and songwriter for NPR’s Throughline.
Course instructor Tamar Charney is Senior Editorial Director at NPR and works on editorial strategy for emerging platforms, including apps and smart speakers. She was Executive Creator of NPR’s “Coronavirus Daily”, the network’s fastest growing podcast to date, and Acting Senior Producer for NPR’s landmark podcast “Throughline”. Prior to working at NPR, she was Program Director at Michigan Radio, including Air, Online, Information Strategy and Operations. At Michigan Radio, she has been a news anchor, reporter, editor and producer. She has also worked for other public radio stations such as WDET and WEMU and was chair of the board of directors of the association of public radio program directors from 2014 to 2017. Charney is also a writer, photographer and artist Voice off.
Anyone interested in audio storytelling is encouraged to register for the course. You just need a recording device or a smartphone to try out some of the suggested exercises.
Unlike MOOCs, which are free and attract thousands of people, BOCs cost US $ 95, including full access to the course and a certificate of completion for those who meet the course requirements. There is no formal academic credit associated with the certificate.
The course is asynchronous, which means you can complete the activities on the days and times that best suit your schedule. However, there are recommended deadlines so as not to fall behind.
So grab your microphone and headphones and Register now for this awesome course on audio storytelling! Your ears will thank you!