Eight ways journalists can use SoundCloud

by Jessica Weiss
Oct 30, 2018 in Multimedia Journalism

Audio is an engaging way to bring readers and listeners deeper into a story, and it’s never been easier to tell stories with sound on the Web.

The best part: You don't need prior radio experience or access to expensive tools. SoundCloud, a Web-based audio program that allows users to create, share and collect audio clips, lets journalists and news organizations post, share and comment on audio with its free, user-friendly tools.

Launched in 2007 as a musician's resource, SoundCloud now has 20 million registered users, and is increasingly used for the spoken word. ReadWriteWeb recently described it as “a hub for radio-style journalism and commentary with an interactive twist.”

Here are some of the ways SoundCloud is being used around the world:

1. To post news programming

Traditional news outlets such as France 24 post their regular radio news programming on SoundCloud. This makes the news ripe for social sharing and available to a new audience. Listeners can also submit comments directly onto the audio track. The site lets users upload a total of 120 minutes of audio at any one time, but yearly subscriptions with more space are available for a fee.

2. To report from the field and post audio from interviews

A word or time limit in traditional media often forces reporters to leave out valuable quotes and material. SoundCloud is a place to post it all. As ReadWriteWeb notes, social media blogger and Columbia University's chief digital officer Sree Sreenivasan uses SoundCloud to post audio from the interviews he conducts with business and tech experts.

This feature can be especially useful during major events, such as elections, because it lets the storyteller include a number of voices and opinions. During the French presidential elections earlier this year, Al Jazeera reporters asked people which candidate they would vote for and why. In the U.S., California’s KQED public radio created “Voices of Young Voters” to explore youth views of the upcoming presidential election.

3. Record, edit and upload a recording from an iPhone

Reporters in the field can use the SoundCloud record feature on the iPhone for simple audio. The site also recently added trim and edit features to its mobile apps.

To edit more complicated audio packages using multitrack recording, you can use VC Audio Pro, which allows you to record, edit and post directly to SoundCloud. Other apps with edit features include FiRe 2 – Field Recorder and iRig Recorder.

Using these more complex tools, The Times (UK) uses SoundCloud to produce short audio dispatches and interviews, such as these clips from the Olympic Torch relay.

4. Embed audio onto your news site or blog

SoundCloud allows audio clips to be embedded onto other sites as well. CNN embeds SoundCloud clips on its CNN Radio Soundwaves blog. It includes some that were produced by other news organizations. PRI’s The World, too, embeds audio on its story pages, such as this one on the sound of Earth's "security blanket".

5. Invite listeners to talk

In 2011, National Public Radio encouraged its listeners to submit audio recordings about summer music memories. They embedded the SoundCloud dropbox widget on the NPR site, which allowed users to upload their own audio.

6. Produce a daily or weekly audio roundup

International tech news site The Next Web produces a daily roundup of the previous day’s top tech stories and delivers them to followers via a short morning update called the TNW Daily Dose.

7. Search for sources

Journalism.co.uk recommends that journalists use SoundCloud to look for quotes or audio from a news event to supplement reporting. To do so, you can use the site’s advanced search function. There is also an option to search for content licensed under Creative Commons. For instance, here are the search results for "Arab Spring".

8. Post other audio that might interest your audience

PBS NewsHour recently posted the entire audio clip of Bill Clinton addressing the Democratic National Convention. Do you have audio that users might enjoy or find interesting?

How are you using SoundCloud? Please share and post your links in the comments.

Image provided by SoundCloud