Reading vs. Listening vs. Watching: Fun with audio journalism

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I’m a big fan of podcasts.

Alex Blumberg, former contributor to This American Life and host of the podcast StartUp, has called audio the “most honest medium,” and I tend to agree.

Audio is richer than text, which can only go so far into revealing tone and emotion. It’s also less judgmental than video, which forces audience members to rely on their prejudices about people’s appearances and distract them from what someone is actually saying. Video also demands action and conflict, which can sway a journalist’s selection and presentation of stories. When I watch TV news, I find myself watching more than I’m listening.

Audio conveys the emotion that text cannot while leaving out the prejudice and attention-hungry techniques that often accompany video. Listening to someone tell you a story can be more engaging than trying to read one, and you’ll also pay more attention and retain more of the story than you would if you were trying to listen while also trying to absorb visual information.

From the very beginning of the project, I knew I wanted to incorporate audio into my final presentation. As it turns out, producing a full-length podcast is a lot of work. Who knew?

Instead of trying to become an amateur podcaster over a very limited period of time, I opted to include audio snippets of the interviews I recorded and events I attended. These snippets will be embedded into the written version of the story, which you can find on this very website in the coming days.

I hope you enjoy reading, but also, listening.

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