WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Unnatural Audio & Video

Feb 2, 2016

Shop Talk panelist Jasmine Crighton said a student in one of her classes acknowledged mixing into a story a piece of sound that was not recorded at the scene.  That is sometimes referred to "unnatural sound."

Crighton said she had to explain to the class that while it might not seem like a big deal, it’s considered unethical to use sound (and video) in this way to enhance a story. 

And Crighton said it sometimes happens in the professional broadcast world.  For example, she said 60 Minutes once ran a story about an electric car.  An editor mixed in the sound of an engine revving, which observant viewers pointed out is wrong because electric cars have silent engines. 

Panelist Jonathan Ahl said the situation reminded him of a television story about the North Pole.  Part of the video accompanying the story showed penguins – which don’t live at the North Pole.

Ahl said journalists are always under scrutiny so it’s important they hold themselves to the highest ethical standards.

Panelist Rich Egger said the use of unnatural audio or video misrepresents what actually happened.  He said the use of unnatural sound is no different than using a sound effects record to enhance a story – something most journalists would frown upon.