I miss my landline! Interviews and how you record your source.

This might sound silly, but one of my biggest questions about journalism (and biggest concerns for that matter) was HOW to gather quotes.

Yes, I know it involves asking questions and making sure you understand, but how do you record them? Do you write them out word for word? Do you use shorthand? Do you record them?

When I started CreComm I felt like we were very much encouraged to write everything out. Voice recordings were acceptable, but I felt like they were shunned upon.

I use nothing but voice recordings now, and I would never look back. But the key is to use them properly. I cringe when I have to sit down with a pad of paper and a pen and try to write down all of my quotes. But it serves me right considering I either didn’t double check my battery power or just straight up forgot my recorder.

I made the mistake of simply letting my recorder run through an entire political forum last year and didn’t take a single note. You only do that once. After that I learned to mark down the times of important tidbits of information, or else I have to sit there and listen to an hour and a half of recordings for about two minutes of content that I’ll actually use.

When I started my summer job I was simply calling people up and writing out what they said to me. There’s nothing wrong with that if you can keep up, but my shorthand sucks. It always has, but it’s something that I need to learn how to do. (Future class topic perhaps, Duncan?)

Interviews were awkward, I spent more time focusing on what I was writing and asking the source to repeat themselves over and over. The rest was awkward silence as they waited for me to write. But I learned from my co-workers the magic of a phone jack that allows you to record your phone conversations.

My interviews improved tenfold this way because I could actually focus on the conversation at hand. 

I never looked back and learned that I still almost relied on it too much.

Now I’m out of the office and living on my own with no landline. My wonderful little phone jack doesn’t work with a cell phone. This is leaving me to awkwardly to try and talk on speaker phone through my cell phone and record the conversations. But now my hands aren’t free to take notes and nine times out of ten the source says they can’t hear me through speaker phone. So now I’m talking, and then move my ear off the phone and put my recorder to the phone so it can pick up a VERY faint audio clip of what’s being said.

It makes for a sad sight.

What do you do to get your interviews done when they’re not in person? Am I the only one who fumbles around like this? Or do you have your own stories about your techniques. I’d love to hear them!


2 responses to “I miss my landline! Interviews and how you record your source.

  1. I like to set garage band to record, input mic turned up, put my phone on the keyboard and set it to speaker. Haven’t had any trouble yet. But make sure you know it’s recording first!

  2. I can tell you recording and then transcribing is both a major blessing and a horrible curse. I like, you, started recording absolutely everything. Problems included: sifting through all the tape to get to what was actually important, overloading reports with quotes and becoming over-reliant on the tape. I have a rule now. For features and long form-stuff, I’ll go and transcribe every word of it. For daily, I just listen and make notes with the tape simply rolling for insurance.

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