Making a difference through audio journalism

Less than a year ago, Adobe Audition, the audio editing software, stressed Kadija Baldé out. 

“I just could not figure out Adobe,” said Baldé, a junior journalism, French, and international relations major at the University of Texas. “But once you get through the hard part of learning it … it’s actually really fun.”

Now, Baldé is part of the first cohort of interns at The Drag, an audio production house. She’s editing audio, writing scripts, marketing podcast episodes, designing graphics and even getting to be on an episode of “Request Pending”, a podcast about internet culture and communities.

She said she never expected to do graphic design. 

“I’m really liking it,” Baldé said. “I’m just so grateful that I was able to do something like this.”

Instead of graphic design podcasting, Baldé expected to spend her summer more than 5,000 miles away from her hometown of Hutto, Texas, living with a host family and attending the University of Lyon in France. However, her summer took a different turn when the coronavirus pandemic hit. 

“It lowkey threw me off,” Baldé said. “But having to come back home because of COVID is kind of a blessing.”

The newly freed-up summer allowed Baldé to intern at both The Drag and at Business of Books Mastermind publishing company while also taking online summer classes at UT and working at the YMCA in Hutto, Texas. 

“I like experiencing new things,” Baldé said. “If I’ve never done it before, please sign me up to do it.”

Working at The Drag has been one of those new experiences. Baldé says she chose to intern with The Drag because she wanted to dip her feet in every part of journalism, such as print, video, and audio.

“There’s so many different [facets of journalism],” Baldé said. “It’s not just print writing; it’s not just editing. You can do video journalism, you can do audio journalism. So I was like, ‘Oh no, I’m not going to skip through this [opportunity].’”

In addition to studying journalism, Baldé studies French and international relations and global studies as a precursor to going to law school; she hopes to be a politician active in global affairs. 

Baldé’s interest in global affairs stems from her parents, who were born in the West African country of Guinea. Although she was born and raised in the United States, her first language was Fulani, one of the many native languages of Guinea, and she has always been surrounded by West African culture. 

“I just want to be able, some time in my life, to go back to Guinea and contribute how I can politically because the political state that the country is in is horrendous,” Baldé said.

Growing up in the United States, Baldé felt as if she had an obligation to her family to get an education and use it to help people. 

“I see the different lives my cousins [in Guinea] and I live even though we’re the same age,” Baldé said. “It’s crazy how different our lives are just because of where we were born and the privileges I was lucky to have. And I feel if I’m here, sitting in the US not using my privileges to make a difference, that would be a waste.”

For Baldé, making a difference starts here at The Drag.

“The team at The Drag is so supportive,” Baldé said. “They’re there to help you whenever you need it. I feel comfortable enough to test out my [journalism] skills. I’m learning and actually enjoying it.”

Mikayla Mondragon is a rising junior Journalism major at UT Austin and is pursuing a double certificate in Creative Writing and Elements of Computing. In her free time, she loves doing colorguard with the Longhorn Band, reading and sewing.

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