On Audio Slide Shows …

I love audio slide shows. They are wonderful journalistic creations, able to mix the depth of still images with the power of a subject’s voice. I teach all my students how to do them – and they do them well.

The wire services have started to push them out, as well, which is fantastic. There are so many stories that can be told so well this way.
But … and you knew there was a but … not all of them succeed. It is not enough to just do one anymore because they are easy to build with programs like SoundSlides. They have to be crafted, they have to be shot for this reason and they need to have a story.
Take, for instance, Brian Synder’s foreclosure auction piece on the Reuters site. Snyder, who I’ve known for 15 years, is an amazing photographer – and the images here prove that. Good variety, strong technical skills and great moments.
But the audio – of one auction, start to finish – doesn’t tell us a story and it doesn’t match with the photos very well. During our workshop last week, one of our editors was showing me a few audio slide shows his staff had done. Thirty seconds into one of them – one which was beautifully shot – I stopped the player and said I couldn’t watch anymore. There was no connection between the photos and the audio. There was no sense of synchronization, there were really good photos AND really good audio, but they weren’t working together. The timing of the transitions didn’t make any sense. Even the types of transitions didn’t make any sense.
It’s time we stop playing with audio slide shows and start telling stories with them. It’s not enough to say, “Gee whiz, that’s cool!” when one finishes watching. You need to have a deeper understanding of the story.
And I feel the same way about video … when did we decide to abdicate storytelling and just play with technology?

Mark E. Johnson

1 Response

  1. When?

    Right around the same time it was decided that technology and the internet would save newspapers.

    Of course this decision was made by people who sit behind desks as opposed to people who tell stories.

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