Audio Journalism | Columbia Journalism School

Audio

Learn to tell compelling stories using sound and clear, conversational writing.

A good audio story whispers in your ear and takes you on a journey. Audio storytelling combines clear, conversational writing and the texture of voices and sound. At its best, it has the scope of documentary filmmaking and the narrative quality of The New Yorker.

Overview

With the growing popularity of podcasts and the continued reach of terrestrial radio, there has never been a better time to pursue a career in audio. The Journalism School prepares students to work in any of the finest public radio newsrooms or on the most successful shows and podcasts.

M.S. students go through a brief audio training in August as part of their introduction to multimedia reporting. Even in those early classes, students receive technical instruction, one­-on-­one editing and constructive in-class feedback on their work.

In the fall, students interested in audio can take Writing for the Ear and/or an Image & Sound class in audio reporting. In the spring, Radio Workshop provides real­-world training that ensures students interested in pursuing a career in radio have the skills to quickly make themselves valuable in any work environment. Radio Workshop has been a staple of the spring schedule for nearly two decades. Its network of graduates work in many of the best public and commercial radio and podcast companies in the United States and beyond.

Students interested in audio who meet the prerequisites can submit proposals for audio Master’s Projects. A hybrid audio-print project includes an 8-10 minute audio piece and a 2,500-word story. A full audio project is a 2,0­30-minute documentary or a series of three 7­-9 minute related segments with no written component.

Regular guest speakers in audio classes include: Robert Smith (NPR), Stacey Vanek Smith (NPR), Alex Blumberg (Gimlet), Tim Howard (Gimlet), Luis Trelles (Radio Ambulante), Zoe Chace (This American Life), Ailsa Chang (NPR) and Joe Richman (Radio Diaries).

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Classes

In addition to these classes, many instructors encourage students to incorporate audio elements into their reporting.

Please note: The classes listed here represent recent offerings at the Journalism School. Choices vary each semester depending on faculty availability and other considerations. Classes described now may change or be dropped to make room for new additions.

Audio I

Radio Workshop

Shoe Leather: Multi-Casting Investigative Stories

Telling True Stories in Sound

Student Work

Aging in Place Podcast

Experts often talk about the idea of "aging in place," but what does it actually mean? And how easy is it to pull off? In this episode of Gray Matter, a podcast about aging in New York City, Jennifer Sigl, '18 M.S., introduces listeners to Jackie, who can’t help but wonder how much longer she’ll be able to stay in her house.

Superstorm Sandy was years ago but New York City is still dealing with the storm’s aftermath. Repairs to the L train connecting Brooklyn and Manhattan will leave riders with few options. Stephan Bisaha, ’16 M.S., spoke with Brooklynites about their challenges.

Tourists hoping to get an aerial view of NYC’s skyline can take a helicopter tour, which were barred on Sundays. It’s a compromise between residents and tour operators. In his original piece for Uptown Radio Adrian Ma, ’16 M.S., explains no one is buzzing with enthusiasm.

Immediate gratification is now possible for baseball card collectors thanks to the Topps Company. As Elizabeth Brockway, ’16 M.S. reports, it’s given an update to the old-school classics for this year's season.

Faculty