I have to learn to be faster, more precise and more prepared when I am gathering audio. I spent more than two hours at the polar plunge gathering more than 20 minutes of audio for the three short natural sound bites that I ended up using in the story. I recorded multiple heats plunges to ensure that I had the “best one.”
However, I quickly learned that it was very tricky to pick the clip with the best combination of screaming, yelling and splashing. I didn’t need to record more than 3 or 4. It would have ensured that I got the sound that I needed, but it also would have saved me a ton of time. After I had narrowed it down to 5 “good ones” from the 12 that I had recorded, I ended up arbitrarily picking one, because I didn’t care at that point anymore.
I also need to be better about asking detail-oreinted questions on the spot. At my story site, the wind was too strong and there was no nearby shelter. Doing an interview with someone one the spot would have been impossible. However, I should have asked some of the “fact” questions that I needed to know for the story. When I called a few days after the Plunge, they had all the details about the temperature of the lake, the money that was raised and the athletes that it goes to serve. However, if I would have asked somebody at the site, I could have saved myself some time.
This is especially important for weekend stories, because it is often hard to reach people until they return to the office on Monday morning.