Sound Reporting: The NPR Guide to Audio Journalism and Production

Overview

Perhaps you’ve always wondered how public radio gets that smooth, well-crafted sound. Maybe you’re thinking about starting a podcast, and want some tips from the pros. Or maybe storytelling has always been a passion of yours, and you want to learn to do it more effectively. Whatever the case—whether you’re an avid NPR listener or you aspire to create your own audio, or both—Sound Reporting: The NPR Guide to Audio Journalism and Production will give you a rare tour of the world ...

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Sound Reporting: The NPR Guide to Audio Journalism and Production

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Overview

Perhaps you’ve always wondered how public radio gets that smooth, well-crafted sound. Maybe you’re thinking about starting a podcast, and want some tips from the pros. Or maybe storytelling has always been a passion of yours, and you want to learn to do it more effectively. Whatever the case—whether you’re an avid NPR listener or you aspire to create your own audio, or both—Sound Reporting: The NPR Guide to Audio Journalism and Production will give you a rare tour of the world of a professional broadcaster.

Jonathan Kern, who has trained NPR’s on-air staff for years, is a gifted guide, able to narrate a day in the life of a host and lay out the nuts and bolts of production with equal wit and warmth. Along the way, he explains the importance of writing the way you speak, reveals how NPR books guests ranging from world leaders to neighborhood newsmakers, and gives sage advice on everything from proposing stories to editors to maintaining balance and objectivity. Best of all—because NPR wouldn’t be NPR without its array of distinctive voices—lively examples from popular shows and colorful anecdotes from favorite personalities animate each chapter.

As public radio’s audience of millions can attest, NPR’s unique guiding principles and technical expertise combine to connect with listeners like no other medium can. With today’s technologies allowing more people to turn their home computers into broadcast studios, Sound Reporting couldn’t have arrived at a better moment to reveal the secrets behind the story of NPR’s success.

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist - Donna Seaman

"Comprehensive and lucid, this distinctive handbook explains how sound paints pictures and how narratives are shaped and paced for the ear instead of the eye. Readers will recognize the NPR staffers who contribute telling anecdotes to Kern’s instructions in areas ranging from fairness and accuracy to field and studio production, the difference between reporting and hosting, the importance of background research, and the subtleties of booking. As media evolves in this digital do-it-yourself era, Kern’s insider course in audio journalism deepens appreciation for the professionals we rely on to set high standards."
Jane Pauley

“I think Sound Reporting ought to be required reading for anyone aspiring to a career in journalism, audio or otherwise. And also for anyone currently employed in the field who sometimes wonders if journalism hasn’t lost its way. This is not just ‘how to do it,’ but how to do it fairly, responsibly, and intelligently. And what news organization is better equipped for the job than NPR?”

John Keefe

"In an age when good and bad information mix freely, it is essential that sources of credible, accurate journalism remain so. Jonathan Kern's work helps ensure those sources will stay strong and, in the process, provides a fascinating inside look at the imperfect science we call journalism. His attention-getting, real-world examples from NPR and elsewhere illustrate how journalists succeed (and fail) at being fair and accurate in pursuit of truth, making this guide essential reading for anyone—from the newsroom reporter to the investigating blogger to the public radio fan—who is committed to fair and compelling reporting."

Judy Muller

“Writing for the ear is an art form. What Jonathan Kern has accomplished with this marvelous guide is doubly artful: using clear, colorful, conversational language, he teaches us how to write clear, colorful, conversational radio copy. He also teaches us how to interview, produce, and paint audio pictures with sound. There is no other ‘how-to’ radio journalism manual to compare. ”

Library Journal

Kern, executive producer for training at National Public Radio (NPR), here consolidates into one volume the training provided to NPR employees. Kern quotes hosts (e.g., Robert Siegel), reporters (e.g., Larry Abramson), and NPR editors and producers to expound on audio journalism as specifically practiced at NPR. Sound reporting, from idea development to the finished news story or interview, gets the full treatment. Kern stresses that radio is a unique environment that dictates a writing style suited to the ear and that may therefore be contrary to print conventions. Along with the reporters and producers, he dissects actual broadcast segments to demonstrate why they were or were not successful. While Steve Warren's Radio: The Book(4th ed.) offers tips on how to get a job in radio, this work describes the interconnected avocations involved in bringing sound reporting to life. Recommended for high school, public, and undergraduate libraries.
—Regina M. Beard

Booklist
Comprehensive and lucid, this distinctive handbook explains how sound paints pictures and how narratives are shaped and paced for the ear instead of the eye. Readers will recognize the NPR staffers who contribute telling anecdotes to Kern’s instructions in areas ranging from fairness and accuracy to field and studio production, the difference between reporting and hosting, the importance of background research, and the subtleties of booking. As media evolves in this digital do-it-yourself era, Kern’s insider course in audio journalism deepens appreciation for the professionals we rely on to set high standards.

— Donna Seaman

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226431789
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/2008
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 201,128
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Jonathan Kern is the executive producer for training at NPR. He has worked in almost every position in radio news, including executive producer of All Things Considered.

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Table of Contents


FOREWORD
PREFACE

1 SOUND AND STORIES

2 FAIRNESS
     Fair, Accurate, Complete, and Honest | The Echo Chamber | Verifying Assertions | Getting Both Sides | Avoiding Loaded Language

3 WRITING FOR BROADCAST
     Write the Way You Speak | How to Sound Like a Real Person | Other Newswriting Tips

4 REPORTING
     The Reporter's Personality Skills | Developing News Sources | Other Sources of Original Stories | Getting People on Tape | Getting Great Actualities | Working on Tight Deadlines | Beyond Acts and Tracks | A Storytelling Sampler

5 FIELD PRODUCING
     Getting Started | In the Field | Finding Sound and Scenes | Putting the Story Together | Filing from the Field | Taking Responsibility

6 STORY EDITING
     The Editor's Role | The Ingredients of a Story | Structuring the Story | Editing by Ear | The Intro | The First Track | Copyediting | The Ending | When to Stop Editing | Finding New Approaches to Old Stories

7 THE REPORTER-HOST TWO-WAY
     The Problem with Scripted Two-Ways | Going Scriptless | Two-Way Tips

8 READING ON THE AIR
     Sounding Conversational | Marking up a Script | Getting Physical | The Need for Feedback

9 HOSTING
     The Host's Day | The Host Interview | Reading Scripts Other People Write | Hosting Live Programming

10 NEWSCASTING
     What Is News? | Public Radio Newscast Values and Principles | Composing the 'Cast | Newscast Writing | The NPR News Spot | The Reporter Q&A | On the Air

11 BOOKING
     Booking Well-Known People | Booking Everyday People | The Booker as Detective | The Pre-interview | Final Steps

12 PRODUCING
     Finding and Pitching Stories | Producing Interviews | Editing Interviews | Mixing Reporter Pieces | Producing Music Pieces

13 PRODUCTION ETHICS
     The Unkindest Cuts | Other Production Issues

14 PROGRAM PRODUCING
     The Art of the News Program | Creating the Lineup | Producing Live Programs

15 PROGRAM EDITING
     Setting the News Agenda | Error Checking | Massaging the Script | Sitting In on Interviews | The Editor as Manager

16 COMMENTARIES
     Finding Commentators | Topical Commentaries | Personal Commentaries | Editing Commentaries | Coaching Commentators | Commentary Intros | To Comment or Not to Comment

17 STUDIO DIRECTING
     The Director as Number Cruncher | The Director as Conductor | Directing Live Events | The Joy of Directing

18 BEYOND RADIO
     The Web-Radio Relationship | The Manifold Media of the Web | Podcasting | Editorial Issues Online | The Future

APPENDIX I. GLOSSARY
APPENDIX II. PRONOUNCERS
INDEX

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