Honesty in Editing

John Solomon did a great 11-minute piece on NPR called Pulling Back the Curtain, about the fact that their shows are heavily edited. (Hear it [Real Audio] or read it.) Once in a while I’m asked about how much editing goes on at IT Conversations.

  • Live-to-tape programs like The Gillmor Gang have very little editing. For most shows, even the intros and outos are done live-to-tape and unedited. The only edits I typically make are when someone enters or leaves the conference call and I want to eliminate the clicks and beeps. Steve will typically ask whoever was talking at the time to repeat what they were saying. Occasionally I’ll also edit other behind-the-scenes talk, but there’s very little of that once we start the show.
  • Interview shows such as Dave Slusher’s Voices in Your Head and Halley Suitt’s Memory Lane are only slightly more edited. Dave records his audio on his own computer and sends me that file. I replace the telco-quality audio of him I’ve recorded here in the studio with the one from Dave so he gets that ‘studio’ sound. I typically remove a few pauses, and depending on the guest, I may take out a few ‘umm’s and ‘ahh’s, but typically no more than a dozen edits in each program.
  • Conference presentations aren’t edited for content, but I sometimes spend a great deal of time with noise reduction, equalization and level normalization. When some impatient person has asked a question without waiting for a microphone, I’ll try to pull his level up out of the background noise, but often I’ll delete the question and perhaps the answer. Believe me, you wouldn’t want to listen to the pauses in the audio from a long-winded questioner that you couldn’t hear.
  • My own interviews, on the other hand, are the most-heavily edited programs on IT Conversations. I’ve been known to edit a 90-minute interview down to 45 minutes, re-order the questions and answers, and make over 200 edits. Call it ego if you like, but to me it’s just insecurity at the sound of my own voice. I also want to make my guests sound as confident and erudite as possible, and I want to make the interviews flow at a good pace to keep the listeners’ interest.

5 thoughts on “Honesty in Editing

  1. I do very minimal editing on my voice on podcast (www.icmraw.com), except that I produce the audio soundtrack (i.e. songs and promos) first, and then I record the voice over it …

    While I don’t, per se, edit my voice … I’ll often re-record what I say to say it “right.” You should hear the outtakes … I should end my show with them like Jimmy Jett does, hmm.

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  2. I typically pretty heavily edit my podcasts. I do a bunch of noise removal, remove pauses where I’m gathering my thoughts, remove stutters and stammers, ums, and the such, and sometimes reorder things for better flow… It’s all in the name of keeping it interesting for the listener…

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  3. I typically remove a few pauses, and depending on the guest, I may take out a few ‘umm’s and ‘ahh’s, but typically no more than a dozen edits in each program.

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