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JOUR76009.2

Audio Documentary

Course Details

Audio Documentary (JOUR 76009.2) is a 3-credit advanced reporting and producing class that builds on the skills introduced in the audio portion of Fundamentals of Multimedia Storytelling. Whereas, Advanced Audio Reporting and Newswriting has a focus on quick turnaround and daily news reporting and producing, this class gives students advanced training in longform audio journalism, while maintaining rigorous standards of reporting, verification, writing as well as advanced technical skills.  

In this course students will learn to produce rigorously reported, sound-rich audio documentaries. Students will develop advanced interviewing skills, an ethical grounding for working within communities, a sophisticated understanding of narrative tension and structure, and confidence in their abilities to to tell stories with sound. This course will awaken students to the possibilities of this form, and grow their abilities to listen as producers as they analyze and critique historical and contemporary professional audio documentaries representing a range of styles and journalistic approaches. In this course students will consider: Why do some stories “grab” us? What is “good tape”? What are the special strengths of long-form audio journalism that set it apart from print and video? What are the creative and ethical challenges of telling compelling audio stories? How can the imperative to tell a good story be brought into alignment with the values of truth, fairness and responsibility to the communities we serve as journalists?  

Throughout this course, students will be asked to carefully consider questions of diversity and representation and to think critically about the dynamics of power and privilege at play during the production, distribution and reception of audio stories. There will be a particular emphasis on listening together, providing feedback on work in progress in large and small groups, and developing the confidence and professional vocabulary required to give and receive constructive criticism. In this class, students will be expected to take creative risks and experiment with sound and form as they create audio stories rooted in journalistic research, reporting and ethics. Students will explore the many forms audio documentaries can take: profiles, explainers, investigations, personal stories, collaborative docs and reporting that is issue-driven. They will learn to recognize and critically analyze different narrative structures and styles, all while developing their own skills, style and voice. 

Upon the successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  1. Develop ideas, conduct research, prepare and conduct interviews, gather sound, write and edit scripts effectively for the ear, edit and mix interviews and other audio material to produce professional-quality audio documentaries. 
  2. Factcheck your work and carefully consider journalistic ethics, responsibilities and principles in the creation of your audio stories.
  3. Listen to audio documentaries made by peers and industry professionals and critique the work intelligently and constructively, offering practical ideas for how the producer could make the stories stronger and applying what you’ve learned from the work to your own practice.
  4. Apply a critical perspective to your work and the work of others, considering the dynamics of power and privilege involved in the creation, distribution and reception of audio stories.
  5. Write a compelling and professional short pitch for an audio documentary.
  6. Learn how to organize and execute your projects through all stages of the audio documentary research, reporting and production process.

This course fulfills the prerequisites for the following advanced, team-based audio production classes in third semester: JOUR 73452 Audio News Magazine: AudioFiles and JOUR 76009 Narrative Podcast Workshop.