Leaving in the Pauses

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Ellen Weiss, NPR’s vice president of news

“Don’t be afraid to leave the pauses in,” my editor told me. “And it’s OK to have an ‘um’ or two in there.” I had spent a week editing audio for a soundslide highlighting a talk that National Public Radio’s vice president of news, Ellen Weiss, gave last week. To trim the audio, which included the voices of many, I edited out the “ohs,” the “ums,” the “wells,” to shorten the length of the audio. But it came out sounding rushed and choppy. So I edited. And edited. And edited.

I ultimately started over and let the natural cadence and flow of the conversation stand as it was. In listening to the final product, I could appreciate the breaks in conversation, the moments of contemplation, the little imperfections that make us human.

The fact that I tried cutting the ums and silences made me think about how often we do this in our day-to-day life — not the uming, but the cutting. We charge through life, pushing past the pauses, not giving ourselves time to stop and think. Rush, rush, rush through the rigmarole of life. Sometimes, it’s OK to slow down.

So, here’s the final product of the edited audio, pauses and all. My colleague Billy Kulpa took the accompanying photos and put the soundslide together.

Published by Mallary Tenore Tarpley

Mallary is a mom of two young kiddos -- Madelyn and Tucker. Mallary absolutely loves being a mom and often writes about the need to find harmony when juggling motherhood and work. Mallary is the Assistant Director of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin, where she manages the Center's various programs related to distance learning, freedom of expression, and digital journalism. Previously, she was Executive Director of Images & Voices of Hope and Managing Editor of The Poynter Institute’s media news site, Poynter.org. Mallary grew up outside of Boston and graduated from Providence College in Rhode Island. In 2015, she received a certificate in nonprofit management from Duke University. She now lives in beautiful Austin, Texas, with her kids, husband Troy and cat Clara. She's working on a memoir, slowly but surely. You can reach her at mjtenore@gmail.com.

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