Professor Jill Olmsted discussed the different audio recorder devices available to multimedia journalists.
One of the most handy tools a journalist can use is a quality recording device. A video device can serve the same purpose, but keep in mind that certain businesses or organizations won’t always allow video during an event. Some of the best documentaries or slideshow stories come from great audio taken by recorders less than 100 dollars.
Sources might slur, speak quickly, or say things that don’t register to the person gathering the information. If you play a game of telephone with a group of people, you’d see just how easy it is to misquote or get the information wrong. The difference between a “would” and a “will” can result in a libel case.
As is the case with most equipment, the more expensive, the better. The Olympus VN-5000 Digital Voice Recorder runs for less than $50 and can do the trick. However, there are other recorders that are more professional quality. The Edirol 9, running from $290-$350, has a great battery life and records well. Other options include the Zoom H2, Olympus LS, and the clunkier Marantz PMD660.
The second half of the battle is the writing aspect of an audio news story. You might have a few sound bites, but a crisp, direct script can go a long way. Reading your story out loud, using only independent clauses, and incorporating action verbs can enhance your writing. Also, when interviewing someone with a digital recorder, ask them to identify themselves and answer in complete sentences. A great quote that is a “response quote” won’t give your reader context. For instance, if you ask someone, “did you like the show?” they could respond “Yes.” A “Yes” answer will not make sense to anyone who cannot hear the questioner. Rather, ask open-ended questions, like, “what did you think of the show?” A possible answer could be “I didn’t like the show,” which would show up great on an audio device.