Too few Web sites are taking advantage of audio
This column appeared in the March 1999 issue of The American Journalism Review.
By J.D. Lasica
We usually think of the Web as a visual medium, but sometimes we overlook the other senses.
Far too few online news sites take advantage of live audio and sound clips, lumping them in with the multimedia bells and whistles of animation, video and other razzle-dazzle effects that bring modems to a wheezing standstill.
It’s no surprise to see CNN Interactive and MSNBC making wide use of audio. But it’s heartening to see small and mid-size newspapers plunging in, too. Among the early adopters are three papers in the Midwest.
Count John Strauss among the ranks of the true believers. A reporter covering local government for the Indianapolis Star News, Strauss started working with sound files from home, then pitched the idea to the paper’s Web staff. After a small investment ($45 for speakers, a sound card and cables), Strauss was ready to launch his experiment.
When Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., revealed his marital infidelities in a story the Star News broke, Strauss tape-recorded the congressman’s extraordinary confession during a car-ride interview, then posted it on the Indianapolis Newspapers’ Web site. “It’s one thing to read people’s quotes in print, but there’s a great deal communicated through a person’s intonation and emotion,” Strauss says. “For the first time, newspapers can compete in that area on an equal footing with radio and TV.”