Saturday, March 3, 2007

Quality vs. Quality

Sitting in a room with mostly young public radio reporters from different midwest affiliates (myself included - young, but not employed by a midwest NPR affiliate), I had an epiphany.

Public broadcasting is doing an excellent job churning out sound artists who also happen to do news. At least, that's what I came away with.

But as I sat through the listening session, I was struck how the younger reporters spend so much time on the sound integrity on their stories, that they forget basic newsgathering.

Take the gentleman who did a sound rich, plucky story on why a public library in Cleveland was considered the best in the country. Well, I heard inside the library, how it's changed...but I had this nagging question at the end of it: Why is this library number one in the country?

Don't get me wrong. I love sound rich stories. I think reporters, whether you work with sound or not ( and increasingly, every reporter works with sound, even the print guys who are kicking and screaming into the world of digital journalism), need to get outside more. Meet people. Hang out. Listen. Watch. Absorb. But don't forget it's not all about the sound quality. It's still about the news, isn't it?