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‘Nat’ sound shines in PRI award winner on green buildings

The Fiesta Inn in Mexico City is one of the buildings that Jason Margolis highlights in his award-winning piece for PRI on green buildings.

Jason Margolis of PRI’s “The World” radio program won a first-place award from the Society of Environmental Journalists for his segment on green commercial buildings.

In announcing his winning entry for Outstanding Beat/In-Depth Reporting, Radio, SEJ said, “This piece stood head and shoulders above the competition for the reporter’s skill in taking a simple and increasingly familiar concept — greenhouse-gas emissions — and helping the listener understand it in terms of the spaces so many of us inhabit during our workdays.”

The segment takes readers to Toronto and Mexico City, using “descriptive audio” to help the audience see what these changes mean.

The audience hears the machinery as Jason goes into a building under construction, and the street noise during an interview and on what he calls the longest avenue in the world.

Today’s Tip: Use natural sound in your audio segments.

Jason Margolis, reporter for public radio's "The World"

Jason Margolis

Along with using “nat,” or ambient, sound to appeal to listeners’ ears, “writing to the five senses is important,” says Mel Coffee, assistant professor of journalism at University of Kentucky in Lexington, who teaches a radio and television reporting class. “Write and put it out there in such a way as to let the listeners experience what the reporter experienced on site.

“It’s not so much about use of adjectives, but descriptive writing without adjectives.”

For more tips on creating audio reports, see this self-guided training by Mark Moran, news director of public radio station KJZZ in Phoenix, on how to produce a podcast.

Also, check out the tutorials at the Knight Digital Media Center on the nuts and bolts of creating a variety of multimedia.

About the Author

Rosland Gammon is a former business journalist turned college instructor. Her newsroom experience includes reporting for The Philadelphia Inquirer, and reporting and editing at Bloomberg News. Gammon currently teaches communications at Alverno College in Milwaukee. Follow her daily posts. | E-mail: Rosland Gammon

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