Last week in our Journalism 1550 class, we watched a video from Poynter Institute that talked about ways to improve natural sound stories. We are just wrapping up a project with the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service (MNNS) in which each of us paired up with another student and went out into the community to profile a MANDI award-nominated project. My partner, Tess Quinlan, summed up my own thoughts eloquently in her own blog post.
As we learned from Darren Durlach, host of the Poynter "webinar" we viewed, Tess and I needed more of a narrator in our piece. We had four different voices telling the story of our assigned project. Certain people we used had stronger quotes than others, so I wish we would have gotten more quotes from the stronger sources instead. Looking back, I believe it would have added so much more to the story.
But, the reporting part of that project is over, so there is no point in wishing we could have done something better. I decided instead to take the lessons I learned from that project, and apply it to my current journalism project. While we were watching the Poynter video, we were told by our professor to think about our recently wrapped up MNNS project and our current One at Marquette project.
One at Marquette is a project inspired by the New York Times' "One in Eight Million", in which we were to find an interesting character here at Marquette and profile him or her using audio, picture and text. I've already finished the different parts of this project months ago. And although I didn't realize it at the time, my poorly done audio was really very lucky on my part.
After watching this video, I decided to start my entire project over. Although I had a hard time parting with the pictures I took, I had no problem scratching my current audio and text story. This video inspired me. I am doing a piece on the co-president of an improv troupe, so I realized that I need to get into my story the most natural sound that goes along with improv – laughter. So, at his show this past Friday, I recorded some of my subject's jokes and the laughter from the audience that went with it.
Poynter's examples of natural sound stories were compelling pieces, as well. This made me realize that my current text was not compelling. At all. I have to get deeper in to what my subject's feelings for his improv troupe and comedy as a whole. I was getting so many ideas at the time of watching this video that I had to fight my urge to jot them down and actually pay attention.
This Poynter video may have been too late for my MNNS story, but it came just in time to save my One at Marquette story, and I cannot wait to see how these tips will pay off.