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Topic: ethics of audio editing

On my blog I've addressed a few concerns over some ethical gray areas that came up while I was editing the audio story for my first slide show production. The issues mostly involve the ease of manipulation in audio editing provided by such software as Audacity. We photojournalists faced much the same situation with Photoshop in our transition to digital imaging. Now we're trying to set the standards for our transition to multimedia. I've lined up several before and after audio clips to consider. I'd appreciate any thoughts people can offer. The blog is located at michalinhillsboro.blogspot.com.

All the best--

Michal Thompson
Hillsboro, Oregon

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Re: ethics of audio editing

Thanks Michal.

In addition to Mary McGuire's posting on Ethics, I always liked how the Ganter's handled audio in their handout Sound in the Story.

-joe

[also, I'm linking this post from the Techniques forum as well]

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Re: ethics of audio editing

michalthompson wrote:

.... Now we're trying to set the standards for our transition to multimedia. I've lined up several before and after audio clips to consider. I'd appreciate any thoughts people can offer.

Michael, In some ways, the reporting of written stories and the transition to audio/multi-media is very similar. We report the stories with the tools we have, and journalistic reporting skills. However, the tools are very different. As journalists, we tell the story in a fair and balanced way. We use quotes when they are strong, and we paraphrase when everything our subject said was boring, but needs to be reported because it is important. We do that with our own narration, inserting their strong quotes.

Questionable ethics rises when we change the meaning of our subjects statements, or insert or rearrange their statements, laughter or sounds that places a different interpretation on what they said. Fairness and accuracy is our mission. It is not unsual or unethical for a journalist to rearrange a subjects quotes to tell the story. A subject often backtracks to explain something that wasn't clear before. Then, we go through our reporter's notebook looking for those quotes that tell the story. They weren't always told in sequence.

There are some excellent resources for learning audio. Think NPR sound and NPPA images. Visit prx.org or Transom.org for lots of information about audio production and documentaries.

Brent

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Re: ethics of audio editing

Coming from a background as a public radio producer - now working full time in multimedia, I think it's worth remembering (for those new to audio) that there have been editors and reporters cutting sound for years.  Brent has great suggestions.  In addition, here are some great resources to get you started.

From the Canadian Journalism Project - the clearest explanation of audio editing standards that have been around for years, in radio journalism.
http://www.j-source.ca/english_new/detail.php?id=1638

From the NPR Ombudsman
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/stor … Id=2781901