Archive for the ‘Audio’ Category

Making videos on the go just got much easier

Software developer Adobe has simplified video production and editing for any journalist on the go who’s armed with an Apple iPad. The company officially unveiled today its new Adobe Voice app, a kind of PowerPoint on steroids now available for free at Apple’s iTunes Store.

Quite simply, Voice makes video possible without actually filming any video.

Through a simple step-by-step process, users simply insert their own photos or animation clips or download images from rights-free sources into a kind of storyboard template, then add text from a selection of more than two dozen preinstalled themes and 25,000 icons.

The app gets its name from the feature that allows users to then record narration by tapping the microphone icon at the bottom of each page as they assemble a scene. Voice also includes a music list to lay down an audio foundation.

Once complete, each video can be shared on social media, blogs, and websites, or uploaded for display on Adobe’s own servers, by tapping another icon.

Adobe predicts Voice could make the most noise at schools, where students and teachers can make quick videos without the hassle of complicated equipment or software. Net Worked however predicts a faster adoption by the public — and certainly by street journalists looking for yet an even quicker way to make a good first impression.


David Sheets is a freelance writer and editor, Region 7 director, and past-president of SPJ’s St. Louis Pro chapter. Reach him by e-mail at, on Twitter at @DKSheets, on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Digital Media Tools: One click away


As we near the SPJ convention in New Orleans; it’s a good time to remind you of all the digital media tools we have written about in the past year.   Just in case you’ve missed some of our past blogs, here is a list of topics we’ve covered.  

How to use Facebook in Journalism

Making Maps with UMappter 

Social media marketing tools for journalists

Getting started with quick, easy data visualization

Data Visualization and Infographic Sites to Bookmark

Build your website for free

Tablet or laptop? For some of us, the choice is obvious

Streamling your social media posting

Quora tries to answer all your questions

How to participate in a Twitter chat

Using Windows Movie Maker to edit audio clips

Google Charts Part 2 of 2: Motion charts

CuePrompter: No more memorizing scripts for your video blog

Digital media skills every young journalist needs 

Tools that help you get more from Twitter

Rebecca Aguilar is an Emmy award winning freelance reporter in Dallas, TX. She is the vice chairman of the SPJ Digital Media Committee, and a board member with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the Fort Worth Chapter of SPJ.  She has 30 years of experience: television news, online news and video producing.  She can be contacted at

Using Windows Movie Maker to edit audio clips — yes, audio clips

When you run into a problem, sometimes the solution you’re looking for is right under your nose and you don’t know it.

And so I came to learn how to use Windows Movie Maker to edit audio for my podcast. And now, I’m going to show you how to do the same.

My problem was editing audio clips of interviews taped with my digital voice recorder — the fact that I still call it a “digital tape recorder” probably gives away my age.

I have an Olympus-brand recorder (my second Olympus-brand recorder), and it allows the user to plug the recorder into a PC through a USB connection and download the audio recordings from it as Windows Media Audio (.wma) files.

So, when I recently launched a podcast/live Internet radio talk show on open government issues through, I thought I could pre-record telephone interviews with my guests and then use free Audacity software to edit it down.

Or so I thought. But when the time came — two days before my second show aired — to edit the audio, I found out the hard way that Audacity, as awesome as it is, will not edit .wma-format audio.

I thought about trying to convert the audio from .wma to a format Audacity does edit, like .mp3 or .wav, but I didn’t want to pay for yet another conversion program that turns out not to work — been there, done that. Is there no program anywhere that edits .wma?

There is. And it was on my computer the whole time: Windows Movie Maker.

My friend and colleague Emily Sweeney has already posted a primer on how to use Windows Movie Maker to edit video clips. But it will also edit audio-only files, too.

Here’s how to do it:

First, download the audio file from your digital voice recorder.

Now, open up Windows Movie Maker. In the upper-left corner, hit “import media” and pick out the .wma file you want to edit.

When it imports, look at the timeline down at the bottom of the screen. You’ll see that your .wma file shows up in the “audio/music” track in the timeline, showing you a waveform pattern for the sound — big hills represent lots of noise, the valleys are the silent parts on the audio track. (Don’t be bothered by the fact that there’s nothing in the “video” track of the timeline.)

Now, you can edit the audio track the same way you would edit a video clip in Movie Maker. Use the “play” and “rewind” buttons on the timeline to manuever the green time bar to the points in the audio track where you want to make cuts. Use the “split” function to make a cut where the green bar is standing. To cut out a section, make a cut on each end of the section you want to excise, then put the cursor on that section, right click and pull down to “remove.” (You can also hit the “delete” key with that section selected.)

Once you’ve got it edited the way you want it, you’re ready to make the program spit out the edited-down audio as a .wma file. So go up to “publish movie.”

It will ask, “where do you want to publish your movie?” Pick “This computer” and hit “next.”

Now, give the edited file a name and tell it what folder to place the finished file in. Next, it’ll ask you for some setting information — I usually don’t change any of these — and you can hit “publish.”

And when it’s done, you’re done. You’ve got an edited .wma file ready for podcasting or uploading to the Web for whatever purpose.

Jennifer Peebles is chairman of SPJ’s Digital Media Committee and is deputy editor of Texas Watchdog, a nonprofit online news site based in Houston. Contact her at or follow her on Twitter at @jpeebles and @texaswatchdog. And if you’re into FOI and open government, her Internet radio show/podcast airs Tuesdays at 3 p.m. Eastern/2 p.m. Central.

3 Helpful Tools for Journalists

There are plenty of tools and apps out there for journalists. But sometimes you need a guide to help you sort through them all. Here are three informative sites that feature the best tools you can use on your beat.

1.) SPJ Journalist’s Toolbox
You can find a wealth of news gathering tools, tips, and resources here in one place – practical stuff that can come in handy if you’re analyzing college campus crime data or simply looking for holiday feature stories. Just today I was just browsing through the Toolbox and I found a link to the National Christmas Tree Association, which offers plenty of  stats  (In 2009 US shoppers bought 28.2 million real Christmas trees, and 11.7 million fake ones) and interesting factoids (This year marks the 500th anniversary of the first decorated Christmas tree. Who knew.)

2.) Mobile Reporting Tools Guide
This helpful booklet was recently published by Will Sullivan (author of Journerdism, one of my favorite blogs of all time). It includes detailed reviews of lenses, lights, tripods, and all sorts of editing apps. [PDF]

This site offers tools for everything: audio, data visualization, maps, polls, video…Props to Chris Amico, the interactive editor for PBS newshour, for putting it all together.


Emily Sweeney is a staff reporter at The Boston Globe. You can follow her on Twitter (@emilysweeney) and find her on Facebook and LinkedIn, among other places.

It won’t stay in Vegas: Digital Media Handbook, Part 2, is bustin’ out all over

Do want to know how to use social media to build your online brand? How to edit video in Windows Movie Maker or create cool online charts? How to decide what makes the best video story?

Then you need to read SPJ’s Digital Media Handbook, Part 2. It’s out now online and is totally free — brought to you by SPJ’s Digital Media Committee.

This is the sequel to our hugely successful Digital Media Handbook, Part 1, which was published earlier this year and which has received more than 13,000 reads on

We posted Part 2, which includes even more great tips and how-to guides, to the blog fairly quietly during the recent national convention in Las Vegas — and even though all y’all SPJ’ers out there were cramming the TwitterSphere with a round-the-clock full-on, firehose-power stream of #SPJ10 tweets, Part 2 has still gotten more than 900 reads so far.

But now that everyone is back home, the Twitter traffic is less congested and everyone’s hangovers should be over by now, we’re re-launching Part 2.

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas — everything but the Digital Media Handbook, folks. It’s going nationwide.

It’s entirely free — all we ask is that you share the link with other journalists.

Society of Professional Journalists’ Digital Media Handbook, Part II

But we’re not finished. We’re hoping in the next several months to come out with Part 3, which will be produced — along with the great content on this blog — by our new Digital Media Committee line-up.

Here’s a look at who will be staffing Net Worked in the coming year, with a little bit about them and their contact info:

Jennifer Peebles
Deputy editor Texas Watchdog in Houston; former president of the Middle Tennessee Pro chapter in Nashville.

Vice Chairman
Rebecca Aguilar
Freelance broadcast journalist in Dallas; board member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

Andrew Chavez
New media specialist at the Schieffer School of Journalism at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth.

James Craven
Municipal and political reporter for the New Britain (Conn.) Herald, president of SPJ’s Connecticut Pro chapter.

Jamie DeLoma
Adjunct professor of journalism and assistant director of public relations and social media, Quinnipiac University

Jodie Mozdzer
Reporter, Valley Independent Sentinel

James Pilcher
Business projects reporter, the Cincinnati Enquirer, and SPJ Region 4 Director

David Sheets
Sports news editor, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Danielle Cervantes Stephens
Data specialist, The San Diego Union-Tribune

Emily Sweeney
Staff reporter and multimedia journalist at the Boston Globe; former president of the New England Pro Chapter

So, if you have questions, comments, concerns or suggestions — about the digital media handbooks, or about digital media in general — shoot us a note. We’ll be glad to hear from you.

The Flip Camera: Small, Convenient, and Easy To Use

Last month, I was at the mall when I saw some security guards tackling a woman with a baby in one arm and a purse stuffed with clothing on her other arm.   At that moment, I wished I had my Sony Cybershot camera with me.  I never thought I’d see  a struggle in front of my eyes.

What I do know is two things; that video of the security guards and woman could have come in handy on a story on shoplifting, and I should have had a Flip camera in my purse.

Most of us will try to use the best video camera we can on a story, but in a pinch—a Flip camera is not a bad tool to have in your bag.  There are several versions of this small camera, including the Flip Ultra HD that costs about $200.

It’s easy to use, because you press a button and you’re recording.   It’s very convenient when you need to upload your video right away, because it has a flip out USB connector.  You can plug your Flip camera right into your laptop. Yes, it’s that easy. 

You can also buy an underwater case for your Flip camera.  This is great if you want to take shots in a pool.  I bet it would come in handy right now for those reporters covering the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.   

I found this video blog by a citizen journalist who uses a Flip camera for her reports.  It’s an excellent tutorial:FreeVlog

Here are some basics on the Flip:


-Fits in your pocket

-Records about 2 hours of video on 4GB

-Uses double A batteries

-Any standard tripod can be used with Flip

-Also has microphone


-Fits in your pocket

-Captures about 2 hours of HD video on 8GB built-in memory

-It comes with rechargeable AA battery pack

-Also has a microphone

-Any standard tripod can fit the tripod mount

Search YouTube for more tutorials on the Flip camera.  Good Luck!

Rebecca Aguilar is a freelance multimedia reporter in Dallas.  She has 29 years of news experience and has been awarded numerous awards, including several Emmy awards.  She’s also on the board of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.  Rebecca conducts reporting workshops around the country (Finding Sources and Stories, Networking, Live Shots, Getting the Best Interview, Writing to Video, and The Basics Of Multimedia.) She can be contacted at

How To Edit Video with Windows Movie Maker (in 7 easy steps!)


O.K. –  so you just shot some footage with your digital video camera.

Now what?

Well, if you’re one of those kids who can’t afford a slick Mac, and you’re stuck with an ol’ PC (like me), you can still edit and produce decent videos with Windows Movie Maker. It’s a standard video editing program that comes with most Microsoft media software packages. Nothing fancy, just basic tools and enough features to allow you to create some nice-looking clips.  It’s a good program to practice on – once you know how to use one video editing program, you pretty much know ’em all – IMHO, they all pretty much work the same way.

Now then, the only way to learn to edit video….(and sorry for sounding like a sneaker ad here)…. is to just do it.  Here’s how you can get started, in seven easy steps.

1.) First things first: Connect your camera to your PC and transfer your video footage to the computer.  Import the video files into Windows Movie Maker.

2. ) Once you have some video footage to work with, click and drag the  clips to the storyboard at the bottom of the screen. (If you have a lot of footage, it’s a good idea to write an outline ahead of time, so you know where the scenes should fall on the timeline. Oh yeah…and once you start editing, don’t forget to save your Windows Movie Maker project!)

3.) Trim and arrange your clips as necessary. To shorten a video clip, use the “split” button on the bottom right hand side of the screen. Delete the bits and pieces you don’t need.

4.) Add some audio. Mosey on over to the Movie Tasks Pane, look under Capture video, and click on Import audio or music. Drag your song of choice to the video clip where you want the soundtrack to kick in. (If you need to raise or lower the volume, right-click the music on your timeline, and then click on….can you guess?….Volume. Then adjust accordingly.)

5.) Or maybe you want to add a voice-over. To do that, you can record a sound track separately, or connect a microphone to your PC, click on the  Tools menu, and then click Narrate Timeline, and do it right there. You can record your voice to go with individual clips or do the whole movie all at once – it’s your call. But whatever you do – make sure you write a script beforehand. Seriously. Believe me, it’s worth it. If you wing it, and try to narrate your vid on the fly, it’s not going to sound good. (Believe me, I’ve tried. Don’t repeat my mistake. You will not save any time.)

6.) Add titles and credits.  To add written words to your video, just click on the clip where you want to add some text. In the Movie Tasks pane, under Edit Movie, click Make titles or credits. From there, you can choose how many lines the title will have and how it will move. You can also change the size and color of the text.

7.) Preview your movie. If you like what you see, then it’s time to produce your video. Use the Save Movie Wizard to save your project as a .wmv or .avi video file. Once your video file is ready, you can upload it to the web  for all to see. If you don’t have a place to show it off, you can always post it on a free video hosting service such as YouTube or Vimeo.

So that’s my 7-Step tutorial on Windows Movie Maker.

The main sources of information for this article came from the Windows Movie Maker product guide and tutorials on the Microsoft website, and from my own personal experience. FYI, I’ve been editing video for over five years now, and during that time I’ve used many different programs – Final Cut, Cyberlink PowerDirector, Avid, and (of course!) good ol’ Windows Movie Maker. But I must confess, Windows Movie Maker is not my first choice, and I don’t use it that often. So if I missed anything here, please let me know.  I’m especially interested in hearing from any regular users out there – if you have any tips/tricks/hacks to share, please comment below.


Emily Sweeney is a staff reporter at The Boston Globe. You can follow her on Twitter (@emilysweeney) and find her on LinkedIn among other places.

Free online book in Spanish on Digital Tools for Journalists

Sandra CrucianelliArgentine journalist, Sandra Crucianelli knew something was missing when she attended the IRE conference in Miami in 2008. She couldn’t find a book on digital media tools for journalists in Spanish.

Crucianelli has now written the book in Spanish called “Herramientas Digitales Para Periodistas.”  It’s been published by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, and is available for free in a PDF that can be downloaded. Here’s the link:

I looked over this online book and strongly feel it’s a great resource for reporters who work in Spanish language newspapers or online news sites.  It’s also handy for reporters who are learning Spanish in hopes of someday working in Mexico, Spain, and South or Central America.

The book includes chapters on accessing databases and official documents, using social networks, video conferencing, photo galleries and blogs.

Rebecca Aguilar is an Emmy Award winning freelance multimedia reporter in Dallas. She produces videos, digital slideshows along with her reports. She is currently working on an Associate’s Degree in Multimedia Development.  She can be reached at

How to purchase an iPhone app

The following instructions are valid for iTunes 9

First you’ll need to have an iTunes account. To set up a free account click here.


There are many ways to find an iPhone app, the easiest is to click on the App Store tab on the iTunes site. Otherwise, you can search sites like Gizmodo which gives you a more detailed review on the apps.

You can use the search field at the top if there is a specific app you want to find.


For example, to purchase the free IMDb iPhone app (which is essentially a movie database) type in ‘IMDb’ in the search field.

A new page will appear that tells you how much the iPhone app costs. You will also see the list of requirements (which is important because this will determine if the app will work on your phone), ratings and reviews, and much more.

You’ll see a page with screenshots of how the IMDb app will appear to function on your iPhone.


Click on <Free App>

A new window pops open that requests your Apple ID and Password asking you to sign in – because Apple wants to track what you purchase, even when the iPhone app you want is free.

Click on <Get>

To verify that you have successfully downloaded the iPhone app click on ‘Applications’ under the LIBRARY tab.



In order to use your new iPhone app you’ll need to sync your iTunes to your iPhone.

Plug in your iPhone to your computer. The name of your iPhone will appear under Devices.

Click on your iPhone and in the new window click on the tab ‘Applications’.

You will see all of the iPhone applications that you have ever downloaded and not deleted in alphabetical order (or however you have your specific system set up).

To find the IMDb app go to the search field next to ‘Sync Applications’ and type in ‘IMDb’.

Select the IMDb app for syncing by clicking on the box next to the IMDb app to create a check mark.

On the right hand side you’ll see your iPhone screens.

The number of different applications your iPhone can store will vary with your specific iPhone software version. If you are running version 3.1.2, as of posting, the most up-to-date software version, an iPhone owner can have up to 159 apps on 11 screens.

By default iTunes finds the most open screen to place your new app, however you can select a different screen by dragging the icon to a different screen (the ones that appear scrolling down the pages that appear on the right).


Press ‘Apply’ and you’re done!

Related Link:

The Best iPhone Apps of 2009

Hilary Fosdal is the Interactive Content Manager for Barrington Broadcasting Group. She blogs at and tweets @hilaryfosdal.

Where to find free sound effects and royalty-free music

The following content was republished with the author’s permission. This article was originally published on 10,000 Words a blog written by Mark S. Luckie, a print journalist who discovered his hobby of multimedia and his love for journalism could be combined to great effect. You can also follow 10,000 Words on Twitter.

Many multimedia and video journalists require ambient music for their projects, but truly free royalty-free music and sound effects are hard to come by. Most companies charge hefty one-time prices to use their products, which usually puts them out of the price range of the average financially-challenged media outlet.

Incompetech has a host of royalty-free music available, though donations are accepted. Flash Kit also has both sound loops and sound effects available for download.

Another option is to use public domain music, or music that falls outside of copyright protection. Public Domain 4U has a lot of public domain MP3s available (mostly jazz/blues), while Musopen has a large selection of classical music for immediate download.

Sound FX hunters will find both Soundsnap, with its user-friendly search interface, and FindSounds, with its preview waveforms, two of the best online resources for sounds. Mac users can also make use of GarageBand’s sound effects library. Other sites for free sound effects include and For more resources, check out’s 55 great websites to download free sound effects or this list of additional resources.

There is a prevalent myth among audio-seeking journalists that any piece of music, copyrighted or not, can be used freely as long as the clip is under 30 seconds. This is, in most cases, untrue and opens the user and company up to potential lawsuits. The best approach is to stick with the music and sound effects that are explicitly free.

For a quick history of what makes a great, iconic sound, check out mental_floss’ 17 Most Recognizable Trademarked Sounds.

Additional Resources:


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