Reporter's Notebook

The art and science of the interview

It Happens

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This is a quickie.

The days that reporters edit with a grease pencil, editing tape, a razor blade and an editing block are long gone (though I hear NPR still has them around and asks some of its reporters to occasionally use them to keep them connected to old school production techniques).

Back then, it was just as likely to have the same piece of audio appear twice in a story as it is now but for different reasons.  Back then, you might do several takes of something, but miss cutting out the extra ones when doing the final listen.  When you listen to something over and over, just like when you read something over and over, you tend to see and hear what you think you’re seeing and hearing rather than what’s really there.

Today, extra takes can appear not only because Adobe Edition and Audacity makes it so very easy to copy audio and paste it elsewhere because, you decide, it sounds better at point A than at point B.  In the final listen, your brain can miss the fact that the same audio is at both points A and B.  But it can also happen in exactly the same way as in days of yore; you voice several takes and just plain miss one.

In both cases, you’ll hear exactly what I heard this morning on OPB’s Think Out Loud.  Host Dave Miller was doing the lead in to a pre-recorded interview he conducted with representatives of Multnomah County’s Wapato Jail about what should be done with the facility when all the bond money that was used to build it is paid back.

A piece of that intro was repeated twice.

This happens all the time, but especially in radio and particularly with pre-recorded programs.  Not so much in TV because TV has the road map of pictures that the audio tends to follow.  If audio doesn’t match the pictures, the editor realizes it pretty quick.  But in radio, in “the theater of the mind”, editors can sometimes lose their place.

And you can bet when the reporter hears it, they grit their teeth.  It’s already out there and even if nobody else heard it, they did.  And that’s why it happens so infrequently, because no professional journalist likes to make that kind of public and rookie mistake.

By the evening rebroadcast, the duplicate will probably be cut.  But for sure, the reporter will be thinking, “How did I miss this the first time?”

God knows I’ve asked myself that of some of my own RECENT work.  Ugh.

Written by Interviewer

May 1, 2014 at 02:32

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