Editing: Blood, Sweat, and … Ethics?

This was an assigned reading for DMAC 2008. There’s also an audio version available at http://www.onthemedia.org/yore/transcripts/transcripts_123104_curtain.html

I’m curious as to how the instructors at DMAC will respond to this reading/episode as a way of kicking-off the workshop. The text explores the ethics involved in editing radio stories. Part of the problem, as the shows producer and guests point out is that people tend to trust radio more because the editing is so much more seamless than other forms of media like television or newsprint. This episode focuses very much on interviews, and what responsibilities interviewers and producers have to their subjects.

I’m not sure if DMAC instructors will use this piece to open discussions about ethics, or to get participants thinking about how much actual work is involved in the editing process. What might seem simple, like editing a couple of minutes of audio, can actually take hours, depending on what you’re starting with and what your text-time restrictions are (as opposed to production-time restrictions).

My guess is that the conversation will focus on the “sweat behind the scenes” aspect of digital editing. But there’s a real opportunity here to get at what it is that makes a story, narrative theory, rhetorical editing, the relationship between concision and momentum, etc.

I also want to note that there’s an opportunity here to talk about the difference between conveying these ideas through the audio feed vs. the transcript. This opens the discussion towards affordances (Kress, etc.).

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