Posted tagged ‘Marble Park Cemetery’

Learning how to create podcasts

October 31, 2010

Reporter Gerald LaVaute edits audio for a podcast.

My ideaLab report for October is dedicated to podcasting, which I and my staff have learned to do with instruction from Eastern Michigan University College of Education assistant professor Michael McVey. The Saline resident joined me Oct. 20 at Marble Park Cemetery in Milan, where we gathered audio clips at a Trick-or-Treat Tour put on by the historical society. Members of the group, dressed in period clothing, shared first-person stories of some of the local leaders and people of significance buried there.

While we used McVey’s fancy audio recorder to gather the audio, it can be done with the iPhone, as well, using “utilities” and “voice memos.” The sound quality won’t be as clear, but it will work. The phone is actually quite functional because you can also shoot photos for a slide show to accompany the podcast, as well as video to complement your written piece.

On Oct. 28, I invited my staff over to my home for podcast training. Everyone either brought a laptop or used a couple that I provided. First they had to download free software at audacity.sourceforge.net. Each reporter was given a clip, such as local historian Martha Churchill playing the role of the wife of Milan’s first village president, Nathan C. Putnam, and Lance Smith portraying the town’s late police chief and historian, Warren Hale.

The training went well, as McVey gave individual attention to each reporter, helping them eliminate ambient noise and edit the clips down to under three minutes. They were then converted from .wav files to mp3 using audacity editing software. I will finish the project by embedding the mp3 files and photos in a story and uploading it to our website using our content management system, which allows one to embed mp3s under the “media” section, where photos are uploaded.

Eastern Michigan University professor Michael McVey helps reporter Jodie Mason edit audio for a podcast.

With that training under our belts, November will see us move on to a more complicated but socially and historically significant project as McVey and I work with the Saline Area Historical Society to record the histories of 10 local historic sites and share the stories behind them. I will shoot current-day photos and the historical society will give us older photos to use as part of a slide show to accompany the audio. My goal is to have this project completed no later than spring. I’d like to have a drop-down menu on our website or a button that can be clicked on, where the podcasts can live forever. After Saline, I’d like to add 10 historically significant sites in Milan, Chelsea, Dexter, Manchester, Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and Belleville, which are all part of our coverage area, collected by the reporters covering each community.

Here’s my official ideaLab report for October:

Goal: The goal of this month’s project was to explore podcasting and incorporate it into our news gathering tool belt. I’d like to see our reporters either use audio recording equipment or the ideaLab iPhone to gather audio to incorporate with their news stories online, just as they would gather video or photos to accompany their articles. Podcasting can also stand on its own or may be incorporated in a photo slide show.

Allies: My ally on this project, hands down, was professor Michael McVey. He has been very generous with his time, meeting me several times at a coffee shop to go over the details and logistics, and helping to brainstorm the entire project. To learn more about podcasting, check out his podcast on podcasting called “The Considerate Podcast,” which can be downloaded from iTunesU. He also offers tips on the College of Education’s website.

Obstacles: Obstacles would be resources. We don’t have any audio recording equipment, but we do have the ideaLab iPhone until next summer. I plan to explore the possibility of purchasing at least one digital recorder for staff to use.

Training Needed: We had our initial training with McVey and can do some follow up with him, if necessary, but the audacity software appears to be easy to figure out and you can download a manual.

Resources Needed: Resources needed would be a quality audio recorder with a microphone and head set with microphone for editing.

Accomplishments: The accomplishment is the training we received and using viable audio that we can incorporate online. The podcasting project from the graveyard tour, once I get in posted online, will be a nice accomplishment, with the crown jewel being a historic walking tour podcast series that we create for each community.

What you’ve taught: With the help of professor Michael McVey, we’ve taught reporters how to edit audio and convert it into mp3 files for upload on our website to accompany articles or photo slide shows.

What you’ve learned: I’ve learned how to gather audio on a recorder and the iPhone, edit it using free software from audacity.sourceforge.net, and upload it to our website.

Metrics: We won’t have metrics until I get the audio online and see what the response is from readers. Of course, we will promote it on social networking sites and in print.

Narrative: My narrative is above.

Sharing local history through podcasts

September 21, 2010

A chat at a local coffeehouse last week with one of my volunteers working on ideaLab Heritage has netted an exciting project that can be incorporated into my ideaLab participation with the Journal Register Co.

Since my goal is to get technology in the hands of staff and have them incorporate the latest and greatest tools available in their reporting, this project fits nicely.

Michael McVey, a Saline resident and assistant professor in the College of Education at Eastern Michigan University, and I were chatting and I knew he produced podcasts, so I asked him about them.

Initially, I wondered if there was any value in having one of my reporters read individual stories for a podcast we could make available on our website so people could listen to the news rather than reading it. I thought they could click on the daily headlines and opt to click on a podcast report rather than read the story online. This thought was inspired by my daily workouts at Liberty Athletic Club in Ann Arbor, where I see a handful of people trying to read the newspaper while running the treadmill or exercising on the stationary bikes.

McVey, however, said he didn’t think it would catch on based on his own experience, but maybe we could try something else. That’s when we came up with the idea of historic walking tours of the Saline and Milan communities. The idea is to feature a historic building or deceased mover and shaker every week or two, with two- to three-minute-long stories shared by a member of the local historical society.

We would build on our podcasts over the years and end up with a wonderful archive of each community’s history featured in a drop-down menu on our home page.

If this catches on and enough interest is generated, my staff and I could tackle all eight communities that we cover.

I still have a lot to learn about podcasts, as I know nothing at this point, but McVey said we could incorporate photos and video. He sent me some links to his work, as well as a link to a podcast on podcasting, and we talked a little about equipment, which is really just a good microphone.

We also talked about getting all of the stakeholders involved, from training staff to engaging the historical societies and local libraries.

We hope to start this project in October and Milan has offered a great opportunity. The historical society will be leading a tour of Marble Park Cemetery with a talk on deceased prominent residents at dusk Oct. 20.

My next move is to reach out to both historical societies, check out McVey’s podcast on podcasting and look into buying a microphone. My next meeting with him is Sept. 30, so I’ll update you on my progress at that time.

In the meantime, I welcome your comments and input. Do you have any experience with podcasting?