Journalistic skills are key to effective audio slideshow storytelling

It’s now easy and popular to create an audio slideshow, but it takes training and expertise to create a good audio slideshow story. To best leverage the narrative power of audio slideshows, one needs both production and journalistic skills:

  • production skills: how to use audio recording devices; how to use a camera; how to use audio editing program; how to use slideshow authoring program
  • journalistic skills: how to find a story that engages audience; what questions to ask and how to ask questions; what photos to take and how to frame photos; how to arrange and edit photos in the slideshow

In Audio Slideshow Storytelling, a free online course I offered this summer, course contents are centered around these two skills and participants were asked to work on a final project – a profile story – by following these guidelines:

Mandatory requirements: slideshows not meeting both requirements are considered incomplete

  • a minimum duration of 90 seconds, but not longer than three minutes
  • a minimum of 18 photos

Production guidelines: A slideshow that fails to meet at least half of the eight guidelines is considered incomplete

  • audio recording is clear and noise-free
  • has ambient (natural) sound
  • audio interview demonstrates interview techniques (open-ended questions, interviewee repeating questions, no closed-ended questions)
  • all photos are properly framed (composition, noseroom, headroom, etc.)
  • has a proper mixture of shots (wide, medium, close-up, etc.)
  • demonstrates sequence editing
  • has photo movements (pan, zoom)
  • demonstrates proper pacing (segments of moving/still photos)

Samuel Okocha, a course participant from Nigeria, created a profile story about an artist who uses disposable materials for his artwork. Samuel won a free copy of Soundslides Plus, a $69 value, provided by the software vendor in sponsorship of this free course. Samuel’s slideshow is being embedded below:

About Mu Lin

Dr. Mu Lin is a digital journalism professional and educator in New Jersey, United States. Dr. Lin manages an online marketing company. He also manages MulinBlog Online J-School (, a free online journalism training program, which offers courses such as Audio Slideshow Storytelling; Introduction to Social Media Marketing; Writing for the Web; Google Mapping for Communicators; Introduction to Data Visualization; Introduction to Web Metrics and Google Analytics.
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