Archive for July, 2008

This Just In—from

Posted on July 29, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

A blogging friend forwarded this email today from

Global citizen journalism website is looking to for Middle East correspondents and we were wondering if you could spread the word to the bloggers you feature on your site. We think it would be a great way for both us and them to reach out to a wider audience, and all our contributors receive a share of our ad revenue. is a global news outlet with on-the-ground coverage.  We welcome original text news articles and photographs and are especially interested in firsthand accounts from international bloggers.  Our mission is to democratize the media. If you have any questions, please contact us at

Well, what are you waiting for?

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Digital Audio & Video Editing

Posted on July 23, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

There are two main distinctions between editing digital audio and video and analog audio and video (you know, magnetic reel-to-reel tape and celluloid film).

The digital editing process is:

1. Nondestructive
2. Nonlinear

Editing both audio and video comprises a sequence of decisions that will produce an infinite number of unique variations that vary according to the author’s voice.

There are three discrete parts in the post-production process:


Source files/clips are imported to a storyboard or tracklist.


Then, a rough cut is assembled via cutting out unnecessary data and arranging the clips according to a storyboard or script. Next, we apply transitions and effects to the rough cut, reflecting our tone and/or style.


Once we have finalized the piece, we prepare it for sharing, i.e., distribution and/or archiving at places like and

First, we’ll loosely follow along with this audio tutorial shared by Mindy McAdams on her amazing blog Teaching Online Journalism, which has been posted to the blogroll.

Then, we’ll work with your video clips in Windows MediaMaker, according to instructions shared in Journalism 2.0, a resource made possible by the Knight Citizen News Network that no online journalist should be without—and that some enterprising Arabic speaker should translate to share the wealth.

Below I’ve transcribed the audio of the photoessay we saw on Monday, Continuous War: Cluster Bombs in South Lebanon, to give you an idea of how many words (267) fill 1 minute and 44 seconds of airtime.

Rasha Zayoun is a 17-year-old teenager from Maraka, south Lebanon, who lost her leg to a cluster bomb. One that was tangled in a bush of wild vine and unwittingly brought home by her father. As Rasha started sorting through the herbs, she was attracted by a bell-shaped object. She thought it was a toy. She picked it up. It vibrated. She dropped it. It exploded. Rasha still has nightmares about the incident but she puts on a brave face. Inside she’s very upset. She wants to be with her friends, to walk, to go to school, to see the world. But she’s ashamed of her leg, so she stays home. The young boy she’s in love with stayed by her side and that made her love him more. More than the whole world, she says. Rasha feels that everybody is more concerned with how she lost her leg than they are about her. From when she was young, Rasha always wanted to be a dressmaker. Without the limb, for her, that would be difficult. The limb is her ticket to independence. To not feeling ashamed. To not feeling different. She’s scared of the future. Of being able to get a limb. So many thoughts run through her mind. What if the limb costs money? They have no money. That would be totally crushing. I might as well die, she says. In the future, when Rasha has children, and she hopes she will, she won’t let them out of her sight. She’ll keep them close to her, to try and protect them from a fate like hers.

Finally, anyone who wants to know more about producing and writing for audio, should visit Transom.

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Editing Adham with Audacity

Posted on July 22, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

Adham Najdi

Adham Najdi

Adham Najdi is a young Lebanese man who was severely injured by a cluster bomb that exploded near his grandfather’s house in Srifa, Lebanon, after the July War of 2006. I interviewed Adham on several occasions. The sample audio file we’ll use comes from one of these interview. I edited Adham’s interview down to about 1:44 and saved it at three different bit speeds so that we can evaluate the trade-off between sound quality and download speed. Here are the steps I took to edit this piece with Audacity 1.3 on a Mac. I’ve also listed steps of how to do it on 1.2.6 for Windows. The photo is of Adham and was taken by Gabriela Bulisova.

  1. Project–>Import Audio, located the adham-short.wav file
  2. File–> Save Project As…
  3. Click on: Copy All Audio Into Project (safer)
  4. Click on magnifying glass, then next to track beginning to enlarge waveform.
  5. Select all, and duplicate track in case anything goes wrong. Mute and minimize original track. Adjust gain to +15dB.
  6. Insert cursor at about 2:51, “What were you studying in school?” Edit–>Select…”start to cursor.” When the selection is highlighted, Ctrl+X.
  7. Save
  8. Edit–>Move cursor to track start.
  9. Zoom in with the magnifying glass to see the shape of the waveform. If you zoom in too far, hold the CTRL key down to zoom out.
  10. Tap the space bar to play and pause and play again.
  11. Where you hear an “uhhhhhhhh,” select that area and zoom in. (Use edit–>Select…move cursor to end of selection to try something new.)
  12. Play again, noting precise times and where to cut.
  13. Use hand selector tool to refine your selection.
  14. Cut the section between about 6 seconds and 22 seconds.
  15. Start again around, “Why were you studying that?”
  16. Cut from about 10.8 to 14.8.
  17. Edit–>Split New 44.837 to 53.46. Save.
  18. Select Tariq’s “umm” response with shift+arrow key. Cut.
  19. Zoom all the way into 1:53:827 “ghalaT” to get the last bit of the T. Insert cursor.
  20. Edit–>Select to end. And cut.
  21. Select the last region and Edit–>Split New.
  22. Delete unnecessary tracks.
  23. Select a bit of the end of the first track. Go to the Effects menu and choose Fade Out.
  24. Fit in window to get a sense of where we are.
  25. Zoom in again.
  26. Select timeshift tool. <–>
  27. Move second half of track to where the first half will overlap it a bit. Select a bit of the initial audio. Go to the effects menu and choose Fade In.
  28. Go to the Effects menu and select Fade In. Repeat if it’s not sounding quite right.
  29. We need to even the volume out a bit. But first let’s condense the two tracks into one. Select them both by shift+click. Then go to Tracks–>Mix and Render.
  30. Select the volume envelope tool. Create and drag points to adjust the volume where necessary.
  31. Listen to the whole track and make sure you like it.
  32. Save. Go to File–>Export to MP3. Set your streaming speed by clicking on Options. Save several times to compare the quality of different bit rates. That’s it!
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Journalism Is Changing (in Arabic and English)

Posted on July 21, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

Here’s the slideshow I gave on the first day of the workshop. The notes I wrote to go with it are “below the fold,” but surely they differ somewhat from what I actually said. Feel free to use the slideshow/notes for education purposes. I’m kicking myself for not recording the presentation so that we could have uploaded the interpreters’ Arabic. But having a presentation with Arabic is a great start. Not sure if there’s another one out there. If there is, and you know about it, please let us know. I will add the links at the end of the workshop (July 25, 2008)—no time now.

I was especially pleased with the discussion that we had about Arab journalism today. For instance, I didn’t know that Arab journalists often don’t work with a style guide, like the ones beaten into many U.S. journalists by their copy chiefs.

I learn so much from the participants in these workshops. I hope they feel the same way.


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We’re Learning About Image Sizes for the Web

Posted on July 21, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

100 pixels wide

200 pixels wide

300 pixels wide

100 pixels square

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What Arab Journalists Say It’s Their Job to Do

Posted on July 20, 2008. Filed under: Arab Journalism, Teaching | Tags: , , , |

Recent survey results say Arab journalist believe in their role as agents of social change

What Arab journalists say it's their job to do

A recent survey of 601 Arab journalists revealed that about three-quarters of them believe it is their job to encourage political reform. Sixty-six percent think it is their duty to educate the public, and 60 percent consider it right to use the news for social good.

The survey was conducted by Lawrence Pintak, director of the Kamal Adham Center for Journalism Training and Research at the American University in Cairo. Pintak, along with psychology professor Jeremy Ginges and graphic designer Nicholas Felton, recently wrote an op-ed for the New York Times about the results. The paper included a one-page PDF with the questions and response percentages along with the article on its website. While the study was intended to reveal a mindset that could be used to change Western perceptions about Arab journalists, I wonder if it might not also give Arab journalists themselves some good news?

This week, Magda Abu-Fadil of the Journalism Training Program at the American University of Beirut is hosting its second five-day workshop in online and citizen journalism. Workshop participants are expected to come from a variety of media outlets from across the Arab world, including Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Morocco.

In the intensive course, we will cover concepts of online and citizen journalism and look at the Web 2.0 tools that are transforming news production and distribution. Then, we’ll take a look at several journalists’ blogs and the range of blogs in the Middle East and North Africa region to get an idea of how people are using these new technologies.

Next we’ll dive in to the how-to of being an online or citizen journalists, setting up blogs, learning about the range of digital file formats, and capturing and editing audio and video as part of producing our own independent multimedia packages. We’ll wrap up the week with a session on ethics and presentations of what we’ve achieved during the course, as well as get a grasp on what’s next.

It’s our belief that these days there’s no journalism that not online journalism, so it’s crucial to extend online training to as many journalists as possible, from cub reporter to veteran correspondent, so that they have an opportunity to fulfill the expectations they have for themselves and their societies. In addition, with so many nonprofessionals contributing to the conversation, we think its important to share the standards and ethics of journalism, so that professionals and nonprofessionals alike can develop the credibility for their reporting they deserve.

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