By Mark Grabowski
What’s an audio slideshow?
• A combination of still photography and audio
• This content is posted to the internet and is
viewable through a web browser or on mobile
• It’s also known as “soundslides”
• Online news was initially static. Mainstream
media outlets simply posted content from
their traditional mediums online.
• Start-ups and non-traditional media began
offering news types of coverage and updated
their sites round the clock.
• The news media realized they needed more
dynamic website content to compete.
• One new offering was audio slideshows.
• Photojournalists often take hundreds of
photos and only one gets used in the
• This was a way to put that unseen content to
use and also a way to tells stories in ways that
weren’t possible in the newspaper.
• In 2005, interactive producer Joe Weiss and
instructors at Western Kentucky University
created a software program that had a short
learning curve and could make quick audio
Types of audio slideshow
• The audio slideshow medium lends itself to a
lot of experimentation with storytelling form.
– News stories
– Features (profiles)
TV news package
• This type of slideshow is just like a TV news
video story, except the images are stills.
• These are popular on websites for in
mainstream media outlets.
• The event speaks for itself: Audio from the
scene provides the soundtrack with images
laid over it. This approach works even better if
the sound and images are presented with
some kind of narrative thread (e.g., a
beginning, middle and end).
• 1 subject, 1 experience: Tell the story of an
event through the eyes of one person. Hear
that person’s voice narrating. This can also be
achieved by going back afterward and having
the subject talk about what is in the photos.
• Multiple subjects, 1 experience: Hear from
several people involved in a story. This has
similarities to a traditional broadcast report
except that it lets the people involved do all
• Profile: A self-narrated story about oneself or
one’s experience, or a story about someone as
told through others.
Paul Fusco, Magnum photographer was aboard the train
carrying the coffin of President John F. Kennedy from New
York to Washington, D.C and documented the nation’s
Keys to a good audio slideshow
• The key is that both the sights and sounds involved
should be interesting and important to the story.
There should be enough visual variety that you will
be able to have a collection of strong images to fill
the time without the images becoming redundant.
• For example, kids playing on a swing may get
redundant fast. But a day in the life of kids playing all
over, or a day in the life of a park playground might
better provide enough visual variety for an entire
Why not just do video?
• Sometimes some stories are told better in more
limited storytelling forms. For example, print is often
best for in-depth investigative reporting.
• Video is great for showing things in motion, and
sometimes watching the event just as it unfolded is
key. Other times, though, it can be more informative
to do without a lot of those frames and spend the
same 5 to 10 seconds looking at a specific stop-
action image from what happened.
Why not just do video?
• Sometimes you can’t always utilize a
particular storytelling form or forms. The
White House, for example, sometimes
restricts video recording or cameras.
Why not just do a photo gallery?
• A photo gallery enables the user to click through the
photos one by one, and it generally does not contain
audio. A photo gallery is good for things like awards
ceremony arrival pictures, where users want to stop
and stare at each image in their own time, or when
the order/timing of the pictures is not important. A
photo gallery is also good when the situation does
not have good audio possibilities.
Why not just do a photo gallery?
• On the other hand, the sounds of an audio
slideshow create a multimedia experience
that can transport the viewer into the time
and place shown in the images. Audio
slideshows are plotted out in a cinematic way,
meaning the timing and order of the images
and sounds can be adjusted to heighten the
effect of the storytelling.
•You will create and narrate a 1:30 to 2 minute
audio slideshow using photos you took.
•Plan for each photo to be onscreen for about 5
seconds. So, for each minute of slideshow that
means about 12 images, give or take.
•Upload to YouTube and make sure video is
•Instructions available on class website.
• Don’t just post your audio slideshow online,
whether it’s YouTube, social media, a blog
post or webpage, without some context.
• Otherwise, readers will have no idea why they
should click play.
• Include a title featuring keywords on what
your slideshow topic is about.
• Include at least a brief description on what the
slideshow is about.
Don’t just post
a title and
Why we do this?
• Learn a worthwhile multimedia storytelling
• Get wet feet with reporting and video editing
• Start building a portfolio
• Have fun!
• There’s a very practical use if you work in
• Many newspapers, from small weeklies to the
New York Times, use audio slideshows on
• Plus, there are many uses for audio
slideshows beyond journalism and our
• Online class lectures:
• Sorority/organization slideshow
• Commencement slideshow
• Or you can make audio slideshows for things
where you have a lot of photos and want to
• Set it to music and it beats flipping through
• There are many different types of audio you
can use with slideshows : narrator, natural
sound, music – or some combination.