Is This a Video Story or an Audio Story?

Since we debuted our podcast, “Bay 11,” in the fall of 2017, a new conversation has become pretty common in my advanced Broadcast Journalism class. It usually goes something like this:

“Would that be a better podcast topic? Or is this an HTV story all the way?”

Now that we have an audio storytelling outlet, we have the luxury of tackling those non-visual stories on the podcast.

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Non-visual topics are brutal for teens. The students often have great intentions, but when they get ready to put their story together, they frequently fall back on photos. I call it a “slide show story.” Where are the moving pictures…the video?

Don’t get me wrong. I believe your broadcast journalism staff can take on any topic. You can do video stories about anything, but it can be really difficult to “show” things like teen depression, for instance. It is a huge issue worthy of coverage, but one that challenges a young, visual storyteller.

Our latest podcast is about human trafficking. It contains the compelling story of a woman, Kris, who was trafficked when she was 18. Everything she describes is vivid. It grabs you and won’t let go. Had we tried to illustrate her story with video, we would have resorted to a lot of “representational” images, some blurry effects, all the post-production wizardry we could muster, but somehow, I think it would have just distracted from her story.

So if you are a long time video journalism teacher like me, and are late to the podcast world, like me, all I can tell you is how much of a difference it has made. We can now critically examine a topic and decide which medium—audio or video—offers the best opportunity to provide the best coverage. And isn’t that the point?