The Washington Post uses audio platform Soundcloud for end-of-the-year crowdsource project

Soundcloud may not be the go-to social media platform for journalists, but that does not mean some papers have ignored the tool that lets users upload and publicly share pieces of audio.

Los Angeles Times, The New Yorker, and The Washington Post all have tried out Soundcloud.

But to cap off the year, the latter did something special. The Washington Post uploaded a series of clips, each with someone sharing what he or she learned in 2014.

It collected the audio by asking the public to leave their name and a message on a voicemail.

The result is 35 messages, all of which can be heard on the The Washington Post’s Soundcloud page.

Those sending their thoughts were not limited to readers, as The Washington Post’s own Wesley Lowery shared what he learned.

Another contributor, Marlena Chertock, submitted her own 2014 reflection.

In a blog post, Chertock also critiqued the approach:

“This is a very audio-driven project, and further proof that audio has the potential to — and is — going viral. The paper also publishes an image quote with each voicemail lesson, which helps readers quickly synthesize the audio. The brutally honest nature of these lessons, and the fact that voicemails are typically short, may be helping this project take off.”

Chertock is spot-on, and while visual journalism has taken off, the audio element also adds an intimate feel that humanizes the reporters far more than an Instagram post of their food.

Disclosure: At one time, Lowery and I were both affiliates of the National Association of Black Journalists.

November brought a trend of journos’ Twitter gaffes

Perhaps some reporters should return to using Twitter as a reporting tool.

Last Sunday, Awful Announcing, a blog covering sports media, announced it “severed its relationship” with Steve Lepore, one of its writers. Sports blog Deadspin reports the move came after Lepore, on Twitter, treated women inappropriately by “[asking] what sort of photos they might be willing to pose for.”

His actions mark the third recent incident involving journalists’ Twitter use.

In another Twitter blunder, student reporter Marisa Martin came under fire after tweeting an insensitive “joke” about Jameis Winston, a Florida State University football player.

The Washington Post:

Marisa Martin, a student at the University of Alabama, tweeted the following on Wednesday night: “Reported gunman on the FSU campus. Maybe he is heading for Jameis,” a reference to Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston. When criticized by other Twitter users for her comment, she defended her Tweet: “Since apparently I cant make a joke in all seriousness I hope everyone at FSU is safe & that the gunman is found. But I stand by my opinions.”

Winston, who is facing sexual assault accusations, was the victim of another tweet that was not just insensitive, but potentially libelous. San Francisco Chronicle’s Ann Killion reportedly tweeted “C’mon Boston College. Beat the rapist,” before deleting the tweet and apologizing.

But at ESPN, one writer was punished for behavior on Twitter that was less offensive. ESPN writer Keith Law, according to Slate, took to Twitter to debate baseball analyst Curt Schilling on evolution. Per Slate, ESPN suspended Law from Twitter, but claimed the punishment “had absolutely nothing to do with his opinions on the subject.”

While journalists can benefit from humanizing themselves on Twitter, it is important for them to do so professionally. The debate on evolution did just that, but the other cases show some reporters struggle to strike that balance.