Later I was working with the reporter as she edited down her video. We were working out some audio problems when I suggested she take out an awkward “umm” that her subject said. That got us to talking about the ethics of taking out certain parts of what people say. In this case, I did not think it was a problem because not only was it an “umm” that did not change the content, it was at the beginning of the audio clip she had selected, not in the middle of a quote.
Is it okay to take out the “umms” and “ahhs” and dead silence that we get when interviewing people? How judicious can we be in selecting quotes and sound bites from what our interviewee has said? Is that any different than choosing specific quotes for print?
I actually happened to listen to a NPR segment on just this topic (but for radio, not newspaper audio/video) on my drive to Minnesota. The piece was made by a long-time NPR fan who later got a job doing production. Before working there, he always marveled at how slick sounding the shows were. It was not until he had to put a show together that he realized just how much editing goes on to create such a seamless dialogue.
Another ethical question came up when one of the editors was creating a video for the Fourth of July fireworks celebration. He added a music track to accompany the sound of the fireworks. The Santa Cruz Sentinel took a similar approach (same song), using still photos instead of video. Are there any ethical differences when overlaying music to video as opposed to still photos? Does it matter that there was a band playing at the Fourth of July fireworks in St. Cloud, though Mr. Knaak, who put together the video, was likely too far away from the park to hear them? Would it have been different if he had recorded the music at some parts, but then took it out and overlayed the other song?
These are the questions that keep me up and blogging at 5 AM…