04 April 2018

Mobile Journalism: Audios

Executive Summary

Reporters at the UK’s BBC broadcasting service were among the first to use smartphones to record material suitable for broadcast. BBC reporter Natalia Antelava won the 2012 Foreign Press Association award for a radio report recorded almost entirely on her iPhone. And BBC reporter Nick Garnett has used smartphone software called Luci Live to report in studio quality from the scene of news events; during riots in Manchester, while other news crews were being chased away, he managed to escape notice and report live by talking into his phone.

Modern smartphones are well equipped for this kind of activity and thus are also very suitable for water reporting, directly from the spot. They have internal microphone and headphone jacks that allow external equipment to be attached so that audio quality is improved. Various software applications even offer the reporter the option of editing, or otherwise working on, the recorded material on the phone itself, and then publishing it immediately.

Meanwhile, audio productions for the Internet have developed their own format: podcasts. A podcast is an episodic series of digital audio which a user can download and listen to. It is often available for subscription, so that new episodes are automatically downloaded via web syndication to the user's own local computer, mobile application, or portable media player. It is distinct from Internet radio, which involves streaming rather than downloading. The word originated as a portmanteau of "iPod" (a brand of media player) and "broadcast".

How to make radio-quality braodcasts with a smartphone

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First check if your phone already has software that enables audio recording. Could you install other software on the phone? For example, software such as iSaidWhat and Hindenburg are good for recording short audio clips and then sending them. Software like Hokusai allows the user to edit and work with several tracks.

Also check if it is possible to attach an external microphone to your smartphone.

Any broadcast material produced on a smartphone requires the following steps:

1. Recording:

In an environment that might detract from your recording - such as a windy situation, waves, or where there is a lot of background noise - use an external microphone, a windscreen, and the appropriate software.

2. Editing:

Depending on your phone’s capabilities, you can cut or otherwise edit the recordings you have made on your phone.

3. Sending or broadcasting:

Send the recording via Bluetooth, cable, or wireless Internet to another device (such as your computer), or broadcast it directly online, using web services such as SoundCloud.

    Potential audio formats

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    The kinds of recordings you might make while on the road include:

    • A short introduction
    • A short interview
    • Recordings from an eyewitness

    Today it is possible to use a smartphone equipped with the right software to compile a complete audio report - from speaking into the telephone, to mixing audio clips or interviews, to editing it and sending it for broadcast through the Internet. 


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    • The telephone’s microphone is pointed in the direction of the source that’s being recorded.
    • The telephone’s microphone is not pointed into the wind. If possible, use an external microphone with windscreen.
    • Audio levels have been checked before recording.
    • A short test is done on the device before recording.
    • The microphone is close to the person speaking.
    • Background noises have been muted as much as possible.
    • Headphones have been used to check the quality of the recording.
    • For best results, record a few seconds of silence at either end of the recording.
    • The publication of an interview requires the consent of all people involved.
    • Be careful with selecting and editing audio material. The spoken text should not be manipulated by deleting important phrases.
    Library References

    Shortcuts to Journalism: The Basics of Print, Online and Broadcast Reporting

    When basic questions about journalism come up, this handbook, written and produced by Media in Cooperation and Transition (MICT), provides clear, brief and precise answers. Shortcuts to Journalism isn’t just for journalists – it’s also helpful for non-journalists. Download the English version here or the Arabic version here.

    Schmidt, E., Tirok, M. and Bösch, M. (2016): Shortcuts to Journalism: The Basics of Print, Online and Broadcast Reporting. Berlin, Germany: Media in Cooperation and Transition gGmbH PDF
    Further Readings

    The Climate Ready Podcast

    http://agwaguide.org/library/climateready/ [Accessed: 04.04.2018]

    Having just finished its first season, the ClimateReady Podcast features interviews and segments on emerging trends in the intersection of climate and water. Experts in policy, engineering, finance, and other sectors will provide cutting-edge perspectives and narratives on climate adaptation challenges and opportunities. The podcast is available on iTunes, SoundCloud, and directly through the knowledge platform site.

    Alternative Versions to