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Sound Reporting: The NPR Guide to Audio Journalism and Production Paperback – July 1, 2008

22 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0226431789 ISBN-10: 0226431789

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Sound Reporting: The NPR Guide to Audio Journalism and Production + Reality Radio: Telling True Stories in Sound (Documentary Arts and Culture, Published in association with the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University) + Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers' Guide from the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Stories have been told eons longer than they have been written, and we still love to listen. Because the human voice is intimate and compelling, radio remains a favorite medium, wonderfully companionable and portable, especially as computers provide webcasts and downloadable files. Many avid listeners are enamored of the spoken-word programs heard on National Public Radio, and now Kern, formerly the executive producer of All Things Considered and currently in charge of training at NPR, delineates the values and practices that yield stellar audio journalism. Comprehensive and lucid, this distinctive handbook explains how sound paints pictures and how narratives are shaped and paced for the ear instead of the eye. Readers will recognize the NPR staffers who contribute telling anecdotes to Kern’s instructions in areas ranging from fairness and accuracy to field and studio production, the difference between reporting and hosting, the importance of background research, and the subtleties of booking. As media evolves in this digital do-it-yourself era, Kern’s insider course in audio journalism deepens appreciation for the professionals we rely on to set high standards. --Donna Seaman

Review

"Comprehensive and lucid, this distinctive handbook explains how sound paints pictures and how narratives are shaped and paced for the ear instead of the eye. Readers will recognize the NPR staffers who contribute telling anecdotes to Kern’s instructions in areas ranging from fairness and accuracy to field and studio production, the difference between reporting and hosting, the importance of background research, and the subtleties of booking. As media evolves in this digital do-it-yourself era, Kern’s insider course in audio journalism deepens appreciation for the professionals we rely on to set high standards."
(Donna Seaman Booklist)

"Sound reporting, from idea development to the finished news story or interview, gets the full treatment. . . . this work describes the interconnected avocations involved in bringing sound reporting to life."
(Library Journal)

“I think Sound Reporting ought to be required reading for anyone aspiring to a career in journalism, audio or otherwise. And also for anyone currently employed in the field who sometimes wonders if journalism hasn’t lost its way. This is not just ‘how to do it,’ but how to do it fairly, responsibly, and intelligently. And what news organization is better equipped for the job than NPR?”
(Jane Pauley)

"In an age when good and bad information mix freely, it is essential that sources of credible, accurate journalism remain so. Jonathan Kern's work helps ensure those sources will stay strong and, in the process, provides a fascinating inside look at the imperfect science we call journalism. His attention-getting, real-world examples from NPR and elsewhere illustrate how journalists succeed (and fail) at being fair and accurate in pursuit of truth, making this guide essential reading for anyone—from the newsroom reporter to the investigating blogger to the public radio fan—who is committed to fair and compelling reporting."
(John Keefe, senior executive producer for news, WNYC, New York Public Radio)

“Writing for the ear is an art form. What Jonathan Kern has accomplished with this marvelous guide is doubly artful: using clear, colorful, conversational language, he teaches us how to write clear, colorful, conversational radio copy. He also teaches us how to interview, produce, and paint audio pictures with sound. There is no other ‘how-to’ radio journalism manual to compare. ”

(Judy Muller, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern Californ)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 380 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (July 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226431789
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226431789
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #107,888 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jonathan Kern is a journalist, teacher and author, with more than thirty years experience in the radio news business. Starting as an intern at the Voice of America in 1978, he worked as a producer, reporter, program host, editor, manager and board operator. In 1995, he joined National Public Radio as the Senior Editor of All Things Considered. He was also ATC's Executive Producer from September 11th, 2001 until September 2002, and shared in the NPR News Division's Peabody Award and duPont-Columbia Award for coverage of the September 11th terrorist attacks. He went on to create NPR's News Training Unit, which developed and ran classes on writing, editing, production, and delivery for NPR staff, and - through regional workshops and fly-ins - for public radio journalists around the country. Kern's book Sound Reporting: The NPR Guide to Audio Journalism and Production was published in 2008 and is used today at universities across the U.S.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By L. Sullivan on August 8, 2008
Format: Paperback
As a working journalist, I found this book thoroughly refreshing and chock full of some of the best advice on how to put together a great radio, broadcast or web story. It's full of detail and fresh real-life examples using real reporters and stories from NPR. Any NPR junkie would love this book. The author has a fresh and easy writing style which should put journalism textbooks to shame. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in how stories come together, or those learning to do it for themselves. I honestly wish I had read this book 10 years ago.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
As someone who works in journalism at a NPR affiliate, I have to say that "Sound Reporting: The NPR Guide to Audio Journalism and Production" -- is probably the most authoritative book on the subject of audio journalism published so far.

Whether you are new to journalism -- or if you've been in the industry for a good while and would like a refresher -- this book has something for you.

While it deals specifically with audio journalism and production as it pertains to NPR (and sometimes its member stations), this guide is nonetheless invaluable to anyone who wants to get involved in news reporting operations at ANY level (including radio, print, TV and new media). Want to know what it's like to be a news host, field reporter, booker, producer, studio director ... or commentator? It's all here.

More importantly, "Sound Reporting" delves into the ever-so-important topics of fairness, ethics (as applied to both reporting and editing), and how to write well for broadcast. It also offers suggestions on how news providers can stay relevant in the age of the Internet and new media (e.g. podcasts, blogs, etc.). Since all forms of news reporting (print, TV, radio, blogs, etc.) are converging on the Internet, this is especially relevant for today.

And if you're just an NPR geek who wants to learn more about how shows like "Morning Edition" and "All Things Consider" get made in a 24-hour cycle and broadcast across the country -- this is the book for you. My only minor issue is that "Sound Reporting" could have been a bit shorter, but it's a relatively minor nitpick because the book is very readable and the author, Jonathan Kern, has a witty and even occasionally humorous writing style. It's well worth reading!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michael V. Marcotte on July 6, 2008
Format: Paperback
Jonathan Kern does the profession a favor by capturing and explaining the practices of the best broadcast journalists in America today. The book may serve the interests of many, but I see this as a practical manual for those of us still making radio news -- and trying to do it very well. Excellent use of actual examples. Comfy, readable style. Thanks, Jonathan! -- MM
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Format: Paperback
Sound Reporting is the best book so far on the subject of radio reporting. It's written by someone with years of top-level experience. It covers the entire process from field to studio; editorial to editing; writing to recording; and hosting and producing. Top tips from top professional in a very easy to read book. If you are serious about radio, then this book is a must!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Succinct and well-presented. This is a MUST guide for anyone working in documentary-style reporting. Remember, what good is a talking head when you can't hear the sound properly?
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By Jackie Valensi-Lauper on January 28, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Fantastic book! Very helpful. Would highly recommend this book for anyone interested in learning more about all things public radio!
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Upon starting classes to work on a radio broadcast and production certificate and being a fan of NPR I thought that would be a worthy read to understand the background work that needs to be done in order to put their radio shows on the air. This was a very complete and well written book that takes the reader in to the studios and the minds of the people who have decades of experience working at NPR. The book has a lot of information about what to expect in certain situations when reporting, editing and producing the different types of shows that NPR provides. If you are a fan of All Things Considered or Morning Edition you will enjoy the narration of the book because it is similar in nature to those shows. And that makes sense because the writer of this book was formally the executive director of All Things Considered.
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Once upon a time, most, if not all radio stations had news departments that strove to meet the high standards that pretty much only NPR does now. This book was a good reminder of what all journalists should be striving for.
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