How to capture sights and sounds

Find me a story. Use your ears.

Those were the basic instructions from Elaine Heinzman, an NPR producer who lead ONA’s audio workshop Thursday. With a brief introduction to the audio kits — complete with Miranz recorder and basic omni-directional microphone — Heinzman provided the basics, and she expected the room’s newshounds to go out, experiment and find some stories.

News minds from the more experienced Jeff Jones of Minnesota Public Radio News to Mark Hinojosa of The Detroit News enjoyed venturing out into the city on a gorgeous fall day. Among Heinzman’s initial tips: Every story has sound, open your ears; interview the NAT or “natural sound” by getting your mic as close as you would to an interview subject; use your surroundings to compensate for equipment or lack thereof. One example, she said, was reporters in loud press rooms crawling under tables or using their jackets as makeshift sounds booths. She also suggested blocking wind with your body when conducting interviews outside.

The ONA participants all came back with a story of some sort, and they all heard something different.

“If my recorder had been rolling the whole time, I would have people saying … ‘I’m just passing through,’” Jones said after the exercise. “The city [D.C.] has a lot of power, but it’s power over a lot of things that aren’t here. The sounds I heard today were mostly people expressing that.”

Hear Heinzman’s philosophy here: