Amy O'Leary of the NY Times on Making Audio Slideshows Work

November 10, 2010 in GPRX Blog by Jones Franzel

Amy O'Leary

Amy O'Leary is a news editor at The New York Times, where she edits online features and multimedia for the Foreign, Business, Sports, and Investigations desks. We were so inspired by her presentation on multimedia storytelling at Third Coast that we asked for a GPRX re-enactment (thanks Amy!).


The best advice I can give radio producers on working in multimedia, is to start out by collaborating with a photographer, and take the time to learn about each other's craft. When producing an audio slideshow, keep in mind these tips:

1) Start with lots of photographs. In the same way audio producers edit an hour-long interview into a 5-minute story, you'll want to start out with many more photographs than you plan to use. Professional photographers start with as many as 800 photographs for a three-minute audio slideshow! The more photos you have to choose from, the better story you can tell in the end.

2) Let the photos tell the story, too. Never use the audio to literally describe what you can see in a photograph. Let the photos show details and use your audio for a more emotional description. Think about how to use photos during periods of silence, as well — sometimes they can stand alone and tell the story, too.

3) Think about arranging your photos in scenes. Use scenes, comprised of several photos, to take viewers to different places. Don't jump around from day to night to inside and outside and back again. Stay in each place for a little while and give your viewers a sense of those places.

4) Keep it short. Audio slideshows need a lot of material to keep viewers' interest. You'll have a much greater chance of success if you keep your pieces short, generally under three minutes.

Here are some of Amy's favorite audio slideshows: