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Transcription Tips for Digital Journalists: 3 Rules for Transcription Process

transcription tips

Rule #1: How to transcribe audio manually?
Rule #2: Use the right transcription software
Rule #3: Create an ergonomic workspace

Journalists are transcribing machines.

Once they’ve covered an interview, the next thing they do — before their news goes live—is to transcribe their audio file into text. And then go on to edit and polish the content for the audience. Unfortunately, some journalists err in their work.

They spend the entire day battling to transcribe a piece of audio content.

Amy Rowland, a novelist, transcriptionist, and former editor at The New York Times Book Review offer some great transcription tips for digital journalists.

“There is basic equipment required: a headset, a Dictaphone to play the tapes that must be transcribed, and patience,” she says. “[Also,] a willingness to become a human conduit as the words of others enter through her ears, course through her veins, and drip out unseen through fast-moving fingertips.”

In other words, to conduct a speedy, effective transcription job, you need to follow basic transcribing rules. Fortunately, this article covers three simple rules.

Three Rules for New Journalists

Let’s discuss each rule in detail.

Rule # 1: How to transcribe audio manually?

Manual transcription is painful. It’s slow, bitter, ineffective, and an outdated method of transcribing audio interviews in the modern-day era of journalism.

While to some extent, that’s a valid point, it’s important to note that the majority of both beginning and veteran journalists still like to manually transcribe their original audio files. Because, they believe that, machines haven’t yet beaten human brains.

Digital transcription tools aren’t perfect; they make mistakes. So, as a professional journalist, putting all your efforts into manual transcribing fills your soul with pride and joy.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you’ll do everything with your voice, a pen, and a sheet of paper.

You’ve to use other tools—like foot pedal—to help speed your work without compromising your energy and health. With foot pedal, for example, you don’t need to use your fingers 24/7.

foot pedal example
Foot Pedal

The tool helps you stay focused on typing; your feet control audio playback.

In fact, “foot pedal is often used in medical transcription] because it enables you to control dictation playback with your toes,” Dummies’ Anne Martinez says. “You can play, rewind, and fast forward by tapping different sections of the pedal with the front of your foot.”

Another alternative to foot pedal is Correction tools, such as Autocorrect on Microsoft Word or QuickCorrect in Word Perfect.

These are also great tools that increase your manual transcribing accuracy and speed. Talking about speed…In the digital journalism industry, we all know the value of reporting news on time.

If you want to keep your credibility and your job, you have to transcribe that interview content fast. And you can only do that by investing in the right technology.

Let’s talk about that next.

Rule #2: Use the right transcription software  

There are numerous transcription software and programs online—from free versions to paid versions.

All you need is to download the app, roll up your sleeves, and kick-start transcribing your audio interviews, right? Wrong. Not all transcription tools are good for you. For example:

— OTranscribe is good, but it doesn’t support a lot of media files.

— Express Scribe is good, but it doesn’t support a lot of media files either.

— InqScribe is good, but it’s not AI empowered.

If you want a modern transcription tool that speeds your work tenfold, you’ve got to subscribe to Audext transcription software. The program is not only simple to use; it’s also efficient:

— It allows you to select the playback speed you want

— It supports a lot of media files, such as MP3, WAV, WMA, etc., and

— It’s AI-powered.

What that means is that it quadruples your audio transcription speed. All you need is to log in to your Audext account, upload your files, and, boom! You get your audio transcribed in minutes.

audio to text converter

And don’t worry:

Audext automatically adds the name(s) of speakers on the files you’re working on, saving you more time, making your life simpler and fun.

Rule #3: Create an ergonomic workspace

Some journalists thought that to increase their transcription speed and efficiency, all they need is to spend money on “quality transcription apps.”

While it’s true that you’ve to have quality transcription programs to perform your tasks, the majority of those expensive transcription tools are not that great. You have got to try a few and decide for yourself. 

But here’s one important thing that you need to invest in:

— Ergonomic workspace. As a journalist, you need a clean and organized environment to perform optimally. That’s because your work hates distraction, clutter, and clumsy atmosphere.

If you don’t have a comfortable workspace, then even Audext can’t help you with that.

You’ve got to invest in your work station. It will help your focus, allow you to have the silence you need to do your best work.

You’ve got to invest in a well-balanced chair. It will help your positioning, allow you to work freely.

You’ve got to invest in the right keyboard with small legs, not a laptop keypad. It will improve your transcribing project, makes your transcribing job easier.

— Also, a professional voice recorder would be a great investment. It will increase the quality of your recordings which makes the transcription process even faster.

The goal is to build a safe and conducive environment that will accommodate your work.

Transcription tips make journalists life easier

You don’t just sit to transcribe an audio interview into an informative text. Professional journalists follow rules—transcription rules.

— They use manual transcription methods to keep their work original.

— They use powerful transcription technology to speed up their transcription job.

— They also install ergonomic workspace to ease up their transcription tasks.

In addition, professional journalists take things easy. They don’t suffer themselves. They don’t type until they bleed, because transcription is not a do or die affair. It supposed to be a passionate and fun task.

After all, “[journalists] transcribe interviews while drinking coffee,” says Erin Myers. “Drink coffee while coordinating interviews. Conduct interviews over coffee.”

Katrin Deres


Katrin runs her own podcast show, and interested in best ways to transcribe audio recordings into text.

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