This week, the news was riddled with stories about religious events. The head of the Catholic church, Pope Francis, made his first visit to the US. Many Catholics received him joyously. On the other hand, it was a sad day for the families of many Muslims making the pilgrimage to Mecca as 717 people were killed in a stampede. Each article takes a very different tone, one cheerful and one somber, to suit the events that are being covered. The article about the pope is in an audio format, which can be an effective method for hard news reporting. The Hajj/ Mecca stampede article is in a more traditional format, utilizing images and text.
The article about the Pope puts a political spin on the event, discussing the Pope’s speech to a joint meeting of Congress. The audio format is suited to this article because it includes clips of the Pope speaking interspersed with a reporting talking about the event. Although audio-only news stories can become tedious for some listeners, this article was brief enough that I believe it could hold a listener’s attention. This article did not have the audio start immediately unless the listener clicked on the audio player, which is a good thing because when articles automatically start the audio it can be a disruption.
The Mecca article uses a slide show of images in the beginning but no audio. In some ways, audio free news articles are better for readers because many readers want to learn the news at work or school and audio would not be appropriate for that environment without headphones. The reporting was relatively straightforward, although it was attempting to understand why the stampede happened.
It appears that audio can be helpful in adding another dimension to a news story, but it is not the preferred mode for some news consumers because when it is not accompanied by other media, it can be difficult to follow along.