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Saturday, October 3, 2009
Education Toolbox

How to podcast/vodcast your SPJ events

By George Daniels

More than a month has passed since our 2009 Convention. The unusually early convention gives us plenty of time to put into action this year the things that we learned at professional development sessions. But, do you still remember all that you heard in Indianapolis? Or, might it help to hear some advice again? Fortunately, SPJ began posting audio from its conventions in the “Members Only” area of SPJ.org.

This summer I spent several weeks taking the wisdom of various presenters at SPJ-sponsored local events and “re-purposing” it into podcasts. My purpose in writing this article is to encourage SPJ members — both those in the newsroom and the classroom — to become acquainted or re-acquainted with this distribution strategy with a different goal in mind. Think of podcasting as a way to tell the SPJ story and expand the audience for our chapter, regional and national events.

Click here for more of SPJ’s journalism education resources.

As an example, The University of Alabama recently joined dozens of colleges and universities featured on Apple iTunes U, a separate section of the world’s biggest music retailer, the iTunes Store. Unlike the thousands of songs at the iTunes Store for which users pay, the audio and video podcasts are free. You can check out my “Journalism on the Go” podcasts at iTunes.ua.edu.

Here are five steps to help make your audio or video podcast (i.e. vodcast) happen:

1) MAKE MINIMAL INVENSTMENT IN HARDWARE

When I started doing podcasting a few years ago, I had a separate Tune Talk microphone that hooked to my iPod to gather audio. Now I use a digital voice recorder, which is available in most office supply or electronics stores for less than $70. For video, an inexpensive camcorder will do the trick.

2) IDENTIFY WHAT TYPES OF CONTENT ARE WORTHY OF SHARING

As an instructor, I have refused to podcast classroom lectures. I know my tolerance for listening to or viewing such long-form presentations would be low. The same goes with your chapter meetings. Perhaps you don’t record gavel-to-gavel coverage. Instead, audio or video tape your event and pick several five- to 10-minute clips that are memorable. For longer videos, I record transitions or short introductions to various topics that guide the viewer through the vodcast.

3) USE THE FREE (OR VERY INEXPENSIVE) SOFTWARE FOR EDITING

One of most popular software packages for this is Audacity, which can be downloaded from the Web for free for use on PCs and Macintosh machines. Apple’s iMovie comes installed on Macintosh computers as part of its iLife package. For video editing, on the Windows side, Adobe Premiere Elements is available for less than $100. Do make sure you have enough space on your hard drive to do video editing. (If not, invest in a small portable hard drive.)

4) KEEP IT SHORT

Even after you’ve selected the clips to include in the podcast, aim to keep your final product about 10 to 12 minutes or less.

5) CREATE A FOLLOWING (AUDIENCE) FOR YOUR DOWNLOADABLE MEDIA

Once you build it, they will come if you tell them you’re there. Use social networking tools such as Facebook or a micro-blogging tool such as Twitter to notify friends and colleagues that a new podcast of a particular SPJ event is available. Then utilize Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds so that listeners and viewers of your SPJ podcasts will be able to update their audio or video files automatically.

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