Basic Audio Editing

Creating a News Wrap from Pre-Existing Material

Most news broadcasts are made up of a series of short news stories like the audio segment in the last lesson.  These stories are told by a reporter and include a few quotes by experts or bystanders.   In radio these are called news wraps.  They don’t last for more than a few minutes.  Most news wraps are between ninety seconds and two minutes long; anything longer than four minutes is generally considered a news feature.  News wraps are focused and require a certain amount of discipline.  Understanding how a news wrap is put together will make anything you produce for the Grassroots DC easier.


  • Students will learn basic audio editing.
  • Students will edit together a news wrap using pre-existing material.

Materials needed


The instructor should play audio from an event or of an interview(s).  There should be enough audio to create a news wrap, but not so much that just listening takes up the entire class.   Using actuality from the audio they heard, students will create their own news wraps.  First, students should write out the the lead (five Ws and H) for their story.   The instructor may have to fill out information that’s not provided in the audio.   Note that if they were creating their own original news wrap and not creating one from previously recorded material, they would have to research the story on their own and should have the basic facts needed to construct a lead before they start making any recordings.

Students should then be assigned a computer and go through the adobe audition tutorial.   Once they have a basic understanding of the audio editing software, students should open a new project and upload the audio that they listened to earlier.  Students should then choose actuality and load it into the multi-track view of their program.

Choosing Actuality: Reporters either choose clips that align with the point that they want to make in their report or they choose the best clips and decide what the focus of their story will be based on their choice of actuality.  Either method will work.  If, having just heard the audio, you don’t have a solid idea about how to focus your news wrap, simply pick the best clips and go from there.  Every time there is a cut that stands alone clearly or moves the story forward isolate it and copy it into your multi-track view or timeline.

Bear in mind, news wraps are similar to headlines in that they are short and focused.  The inclusion of actuality allows you to go a little beyond a basic headline by answering not only who, what, where and when but also very succinctly why or how.  There may be lots of answers to the questions why or how.  Why a politician refuses or agrees to support a bill?  Why to community is against the construction of (fill in blank)?  How a problem could be fixed?  Which answers you are able to provide depend almost exclusively on the actuality that you choose and your one- to three-minute time limit.

Once you’ve chosen the best actuality, narrow your selection down to two or three clips based again on those that help to answer one specific why or how.   They may not be the best clips, but they should all be related to the why or how that you’re trying to answer and therefore easy to connect.

Writing Around Your Actuality: Once you’ve chosen your clips, write the narration that wraps around your actuality.   Generally speaking the who, what, where and when of a story come out at the beginning and are part of the reporter’s narration.   Once the lead is completed, write the narration that connects your clips together.  Remember to include the names of each speaker in your news wrap.  This is called attribution.  It lends credibility to your report and is a requirement for a lot of news outlets, so it’s a good habit to follow.   Try to end with a clear definitive statement– what are the implications of what you’re reporting; what is likely to happen next in the case; what question is left unanswered.   Use the Radio Grammar Guidelines when you write your copy.   The final tape should be one seamless flow into and out of the actuality you’ve chosen.  Once your copy and the actuality flows together on paper, record the narration along with a tagline and add it to your project.

When everyone is finished listen to the different news wraps.  Note the similarities and particularly the differences in each report.   Students should check each others reports for accuracy and the sense that each report, despite their differences, is fair and balanced.  Despite starting out with the same materials, each reporter will produce a different report.   Discuss what that reveals about the “objectivity” of the reporters.   Discuss also what it means  for a reporter to be objective and what it means for a reporter to have an objective.

Finally, the instructor should provide each student with a news wrap worksheet.  It’s nice when you have time before an event to find out what it’s all about and think through the story you want to put together, but as often as not you get a last minute call, “can you cover this event.  It’s really important.  Please!”  And you go, not really knowing anything about what’s going on.  You have to ask a lot of questions just to get the background information that will end up in your lead and then hope you ask enough follow up questions to put together a coherent story that gets to the point of why your activist friend wanted you to cover the event in the first place.  Sheesh!

The questions in the worksheet provided are very basic, but it will prove helpful if you can put some thought into them before you go to an event to gather audio.  Even if you don’t have much prep time, filling out the worksheet to the best of your ability will help to insure that you get the audio you need to edit together a coherent news report.