Friday, November 25, 2011

More Google Voice examples: 'BackTalk' and soundcloud

I'm happy to share some more examples of how we're using Google Voice.
Click on the headline to view the project referenced.

Trentonian launches audio version of 'BackTalk' 
We call it 'Sound Off' here at The Oakland Press. At the Trentonian, it's 'BackTalk.'
It doesn't really matter what it's called, though — it is consistently one of the most popular items for readers, regardless of whether it's in print or online.
The way it used to work was that readers could call in and leave a voicemail sounding off on issues important to them. At The Oakland Press, we requested only that the caller leave the name of the community he or she resides in.
A clerk then manually transcribes the messages — listening and typing furiously to keep up — and editors select which messages will be published.
The Trentonian is using Google Voice to put a new spin on this project. They're using the Google voicemail account to capture messages, downloading them and then uploading to Soundcloud, which generates an embed code that you can place anywhere in a story file.
Pretty neat.
One note: Editor Joey Kulkin contacted me while working on this with a question about the embed codes offered directly through Google. By clicking on the down arrow next to the message — the same function you use to download the files — you have an option of generating an embed code for that individual message.
I haven't tested out the Google embeds myself, but Kulkin said they weren't working for him. Let me know if you find a way to make them work.

Can the Lions win against the Packers on Thanksgiving Day? 
We are all aware the answer to this question is no.
But before the game was played, we asked readers what they thought would happen.
Normally, I use audio files like this to accompany a slideshow, but we all know how holiday weeks can be — busy.
For this project, we uploaded the audio to our website using the same function you use to upload a photo. As long as the file is smaller than 5 MB, it'll work and play automatically. It is also automatically dropped at the very top of the story, so not exactly my favorite option to display audio.

Readers thankful for family, friends
Oakland Press Reporter Shaun Byron used Google Voice for his Thanksgiving Day story asking readers what they're thankful for.
It was not a hugely popular use of Google Voice with readers, though, and only two people called in.
Because we were having issues setting ourselves up with Soundcloud accounts before the holiday (we've fixed that problem now), we again had to use the media upload feature on our CMS.
Byron made it work by linking to a separate story file that contained the audio responses.
For instance, under a graf about so-and-so, it said something like: "Listen to so-and-so's full response." Then it's one click for the user and the audio begins playing.

Fans sound off about Suh's Thanksgiving Day performance
Michiganians love Lions' defensive star Ndamukong Suh, but no one seems to be loving the Thanksgiving Day play that got him ejected from the game.
Fans reached out in every way they could to talk about the penalty, including calling our Google Voice line.
With my Soundcloud account now up and running, I used that option today to showcase the comments called in.

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