The audio slideshow was the first truly multimedia storytelling form in the world of online news. It originated in newspaper newsrooms at the beginning of the Internet era in the 1990s. As we work from learning to use the simple Web 2.0 story form (blogging on WordPress) toward the most complex (creating video stories), students in JRNL 3510 this week are completing their 10-picture photo galleries on their blogs, complete with captions. Audio slideshows are the logical next step after this assignment.

Our next major assignment in Multimedia Journalism will be an audio slideshow created in SoundSlides. An audio slideshow consists of still photos and audio. The highly recommended audio recording gear for this assignment is the Zoom H1 Handy Recorder. It’s lightweight, but it provides excellent sound quality and reasonably fine input control for the mobile journalist. AmazonB&H Photo and New Egg have them for between $95 and $100. I’ve had great luck with all three vendors.

As one might logically assume, photojournalists were the pioneers of the audio slideshow. Because they were mostly visual thinkers and not audio producers, photojournalists’ earliest audio slideshows typically used one continuous interview clip, a single linear narration recorded by the photos’ creator, or a song as an audio “backdrop” for their stories. This was an important step toward integrating visuals with sound. But in its early stages, the audio slideshow often consisted of two separate stories on slightly different tracks: one visual, the other audio. One complemented the other, but they didn’t tell the same story simultaneously. Our goal is to develop integrated stories in which the audio track speaks about or provided context for the visuals simultaneously visible onscreen.

Thus, the audio slideshows we create will use some of the logic of writing for TV. In a television voiceover script (or VO), producers use the SWAP method: Synchronize words and pictures.That’s what you’re going for here: The audio track could stand by itself. Or the sequence of photos with captions could stand by itself. But the voices and sounds in the audio track must be relevant to each of the images onscreen while the audio track can be hears. Sound and images sync together.

The best way to understand this story form is to view and listen to great examples. Here are a variety of them from major news sites, including the British Broadcasting Corp., The Guardian, Australian Broadcasting Corp., and the New York Times. They come from Maureen Fisher’s list of examples on a class blog at Temple University.

A Surgeon in Somalia

The Dog and the Whale

Down the Local

All Round the Houses: Confessions of a Milkman

Disappearing Acts: Turning a Bowl on a Pole Lathe

The Mobile Nurse: Rebecca Wilner

Skulls, Strings and Philosophy: An Exploration into the Life of a Tattoo Artist

Mulch Fest

Cut in Half

Burlesque Art

Kitten Rescue