Basic Audio for Journalists

“Audio is the basis of multimedia journalism.”

Examples of simple audio and photos:
Julio Diaz remembers being robbed. (StoryCorps)
High-School Seniors Predict Their Future (
Running Voices (

Basic Equipment:

Digital Recorder
If you are using a digital recorder make sure:

  • It saves files in .wav, .wma. or .mp3 format
  • It is capable of uploading files to a computer via USB or connector without installing additional software
  • Has a MIC jack
  • Has a headphone jack

I recommend Olympus (VN-500 – VN 800 models start around $45). However, make sure it meets all of the requirements; some of the cheaper models do not. Also, be wary of Sony and RCA digital recorders. Some of them use their own file formats and are not compatible with editing software.

Cell Phone
If you are using a cell phone, make sure:

  • You know where the microphone is located
  • You know the file type (common types include .m4a, .aiff. .wav)
  • Set to “Airplane” mode before you start recording. A call or text and interrupt your recording.
  • You know how to get file off of phone by email, connecting to computer, or program like iTunes.
  • If you are using an app, understand how it works and its limitations.

Audio Apps for Cell Phone
I have tried and recommend:

  1. iPhone Voice Memos (located in Utilities)
  2. iTalk (Free app)
  3. Vericorder Audio Pro ($6.99) with adapter (available for check out in Journalism office) you can use microphone and headphone and edit it on your phone.

Audio Converter Software
I recommend Switch, a free audio converter for PC and Mac. It is installed in Bozorth 134.

Headphones or ear buds are required when we are working with audio and video. Over-the-ear headphones work best, but any will do.

Can be checked out in Journalism Office (Bozorth 105O).

Audio Editing Software
Garage Band (Mac Only)
Garage Band Basics for Journalists Tutorial

Audacity (PC and Mac)
Watch video overview Audacity Basics for Journalists (11:24)
Setting up preferences in Audacity (pdf) – these preferences must be set BEFORE you open your first audio file in Audacity
Superfast Guide to Audio Editing (pdf) – includes instructions for installing Audacity on your home computer. (Mindy McAdams)
Editing Audio with Audacity (Part 2) (pdf) – more detailed instructions (Mindy McAdams)
How to Use Audacity (Knight Digital Media Center)

Unfortunately the free version of will not let you upload an audio file directly to your blog. But you can put your audio file on another Web site and then embed the link into your blog. I recommend

Recording and Editing Overview

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