Voice Memo

This is a pretty simple app that allows you to record up to about 7 minutes on your iphone. Sounds simple, but journalists are using it to do mini interviews. Here is the description from PRNDI:

Rather than phone tape, news makers can now record themselves with an I-Phone and send good quality audio back to the reporter.  First, ask the interviewee if he or she has an iPhone. If so, ask if they can get to a landline which you record for backup. Then instruct the interviewee to open the voice memo app. A picture of a mic appears. The record button is on the left. A button on the right with three lines on it get to the recordings.

Tell the interviewee to hold the phone 6 inches in front of his or her face with the screen at eye-level. This way they speak toward the actual microphone but not so close that they have popping “Ps.”

Have them hit record, and ask to make sure the counter is going.

If the interview goes longer than 7.5 min, tell them to stop the recording, then start another. If the file size is too large, the phone tries to chop it into multiple pieces, which can get confusing when the interviewee is trying to send the files.

After the interview concludes, have them stop the recording one last time. Then hit the button with three lines on it. It takes then to a page with the recordings in chronological order and time stamped. There, they can also listen to the file.

To send a file, highlight it, then tap the button at the bottom that says “share.” Choose email, and have them send it to the desired address.

If it took more than one file, walk them through sending each one.


Sound pretty good, and it records decent audio but alas there are some downsides.

First, the interviewee must have an iphone, and they must hold it further away from their face and at “eye level” which isn’t what people are used too, so they might not do it. This does affect the sound quality you get. It also could be a bit confusing for a source to go through the steps of emailing the audio, then deleting the audio from their phone afterward (since the audio file takes up a LOT of memory.) And if you are in the middle of an interview, and have to start a new audio session, it would disrupt the flow of the answers/questions.

The nice part is it works as long as you have a phone savvy source. I think the best application would be between journalists. If you’re on the ground somewhere and your phone reception is terrible, you can read the questions in an email and record yourself, or describe the scene to send it back to the station.

The Ethics of B-Roll: Wildfires

Since the wildfire coverage took up so much of my time, I started to notice how the Denver channels used b-roll. Many clips they used were days old, but the only reason I knew that was from having watched daily for weeks. They did not clarify that the footage was from days before, but implied by using it that it was from that day. My question for you: is this practice acceptable? To the people who live in these areas, who have been evacuated and may recognize landmarks, should you show an area burning, implying it is happening now?

Journalism Ethics had an interesting article called The Problem with B-Roll by Jayson Go. Go defines b-roll as subjective and objective in the article, and comes to this conclusion:

“The process of producing b-roll is not amenable to deep, contemplative thought or sober, deliberative reasoning. There are no codes of conduct or principled guidelines to follow, because thinking on your feet means thinking with your gut. The problem with b-roll, as it relates to live news programming, is that it can so easily lead to breaches of ethical conduct and ethical principles of truth-telling, accurate representation and honesty.”

Here on channel 7’s website they chose to show a house burning (scroll down to the picture), which is dramatic for most, but could be devastating for the people whose house it is. Is this just part of covering a wildfire, or should the news organization be more sensitive to the people whose homes are lost?