Monday, August 13, 2007

Podcast your world

If your student newspaper hasn’t already started podcasting, put it at the top of your to-do list for the new school year. And if you do occasional podcasts, think about new ways to use this powerful and fun medium.

Podcasts, or digital audio files published on the Web, are a great way to build user interest in your news products – online, broadcast and even print -- in an integrated media operation. You should publicize your podcast offerings in your print edition and refer back to the newspaper in your podcasts.

Among the ways to use podcasts:

News Podcasts. A number of student papers feature podcasts that recap the top stories of the day or week. One example is The Battalion Radio News, regular audio news reports from The Battalion, the independent student newspaper of Texas A&M University. Kudos to The Battalion staff for keeping up podcasts through the summer.

Sports Podcasts. Other papers offer podcasts that focus on sports coverage. Some good examples can be found at The Towerlight at Towson University.

Event Coverage. Take an audio recorder to a lecture, conference, rally or other news event and you can create a podcast of the event.

Q&As. This format works great for interviewing student government candidates, campus officials, noted visitors to campus and other newsmakers. For some examples check out Purdue University’s Exponent. The Daily Eastern News at Eastern Illinois University, where students have interviewed college sports figures, musicians, the departing university president and even a recovering methamphetamine addict.

The Arbiter at Boise State did a moving two-part interview with Vietnam veteran Tom Titus about the life and death of his son, Brandon Titus, who was the sixth soldier from Idaho killed in Iraq. Check out this and other podcasts out at The Arbiter’s extensive collection here.

Interviews with Reporters. The Oregon Daily Emerald at the University of Oregon runs an interesting “In the Newsroom” podcast featuring interviews with staff reporters and special guests about stories in the news. These not only offer the back story on issues of the day, but also create a window that allows readers to see how the newspaper works.

Group Discussions. The State Hornet at Sacramento State University has been experimenting with podcast discussions of film, sports and sex. “My favorite was a short one in which the sports editor interviewed several stars from our championship women's golf team,” adviser Holly Heyser wrote in an email to me. “It was the kind of interview that was really fun - sometimes serious, sometimes silly - in audio, but would have been lost completely in a written story.” If you want a laugh, be sure the check out the “Sex Ed(itors)” discussion of “Mistakes Women Make in Bed.”

Speaking of podcasts, the American Civil Liberties Union has extended to Oct. 4, 2007 the deadline for its Third Annual Stand Up For Freedom Contest. The contest encourages students to get creative about defending American’s civil rights by producing a video PSA or an audio podcast about how the government is abusing its power. Prizes include $2,000 for Best PSA and $1,000 for Best Podcast with additional awards for originality, production and humor. For more information see the contest Web page.

Do you have other great examples of student newspaper podcasts? Share them in a comment here or email We'll post more on podcasting later this week.

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