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A free summer seminar for experienced high school journalism advisers

From the 23 teachers who attended this workshop in July 2019, we have included Solutions Journalism Story Ideas, other Story Ideas for a whole range of topics and Tech Examples of something they learned, many of these for data visualization, plus some resources anyone can use in the future for these topics.

Five Takeaways from Teaching Podcasting

After Amanda Rabinowitz’s fantastic podcasting session this afternoon, I thought I’d follow up with a few things I learned from teaching podcasting the first time. But first, a few disclaimers:

  1. I’m not an audiophile. I’m not even a regular podcast listener. (I am, though, a public radio nerd and have the tote bag to prove it, so I have an idea of what makes a good audio story.)
  2. The class I taught was not a traditional class, nor was it my idea. I was added when enrollment exceeded expectations and my own class didn’t take due to a lack of numbers.  Wah wah.  Also, our school calendar includes two semesters and two intensives—(roughly) three-week long classes that students take all day. Since I taught the podcasting class as an intensive, my co-teacher and I had a lot of flexibility with scheduling that doesn’t exist in a standard rotation.
  3. Even after teaching the class, I am far from an expert. However, based on the interest this afternoon, I thought you might want to hear about my experience.

So, without further ado, here are five of my takeaways from teaching podcasting:

  1. You don’t have to spend much to get the job done. JEA Digital Media has several articles on low-cost equipment. Our students relied mostly on their phones and iRig stick mics ($60) and lav mics ($80 for two). They can record using an app as simple as Voice Memos, but if you want to hear your audio as you’re recording—which you do—you can use the FREE iRig Recorder LE app. (There’s also a paid version.) You’ll also want to order adapters ($9) for your students with iPhones. For headphones, we went with this model by Behringer ($12). We also bought a couple of H4n audio recorders ($220). The iRig mics won’t work with the recorders, though, so you’ll need additional xlr mics/cables. I didn’t love the ones we purchased, so no recs there. We skipped the mixer and edited in Audacity.
  2. Less is more. We capped final podcasts at roughly seven minutes. While podcasts can go on for hours in theory, no first-time podcast should. It won’t be that interesting.
  3. Take it one step at a time. Have students practice gathering audio with a scavenger hunt, edit a sample interview and even produce a short one-minute podcast with all the necessary storytelling elements.
  4. We required students to script their podcasts, and writing conversationally really challenged them.  They kept wanting to write to be read, not heard. Even students with print journalism experience were originally too formal. You might find this presentation on writing for the ear helpful.
  5. We used this rubric for the final product. Feel free to steal and modify.

Despite my inexperience, the students excelled. Here are a couple of the finished pieces—one on women (or the lack thereof) in jazz and one on the potential dangers of online dating.

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One Comment

  1. I did not write for the ear tonight and the narration of my podcast sounded terrible! It really sounds strange to write something that didn’t seem formal and then read it. It was NOT conversational.