Picture this: You are a freelance journalist with a story due in 6 hours. You have just completed your last interview, and it is two hours long. As you sit down at your desk, ready to transcribe the audio into text, you realize that there is no way you will make it on time.
What would you do?
Being a freelance journalist is a one-person job, and so delegating is not an option. Asking for an extension seems unprofessional. Listening to the entire recording and converting it into text will certainly eat up over two hours of valuable time.
Before you completely give up, however, there is one more option.
You can find a range of automated transcription tools online, where you can just plug in your audio, and within minutes, see your transcribed text appear on the screen. Seems like a dream, right? Wrong.
Converting audio to text is a mundane task every journalist knows too well. It was only a matter of time until the digital age came up with a solution. Inevitably, there is a tradeoff between efficiency and accuracy. Human transcription picks up some words online tools might not, but isn’t transcription only a starting point?
Once the journalist finds the quote they want, or the topic they are focusing on, they can go back to that specific sentence and listen again. That’s a timesaver.
You Can’t Spell Freelance Journalism without Productivity
Every freelance journalist knows that productivity is key. While juggling deadlines, stories, interviews, clients and time zones, time management is not a choice, it is a necessity. Embracing automated transcription tools and handing over the reigns to artificial intelligence for this mindless task is a no brainer.
This way, you can complete an interview, upload it to the tool right away, and by the time you make your cup of tea in preparation for a long night, the transcript will be ready. This is the type of efficiency that helps freelancers satisfy their clients, and as a result, earn more jobs.
Sifting Through the Noise
Interview subjects often go on tangents when responding to a journalists’ questions. Rarely is the answer right there, served on a silver platter. Another perk of having a tool transcribe endless minutes of interview audio is the searchability element.
Once you have the text, most of these transcription tools allow you to search through the document for a specific word or phrase. This way, you can sift through the noise to find meaning in minutes, or even seconds.
Let’s say you are writing a story about birdwatching, and your expert source starts talking about the time she overslept and missed a birdwatching trip. You can just search for keywords such as ‘hummingbird’ and it will take you straight to the relevant parts of the interview, skipping over the unnecessary details.
Expand your Toolbox
When looking for the right transcription tool, you should consider accuracy, services provided and cost. While their overall function is the same, the differences are in the details, and your decision depends on what exactly you are looking for. Here are some of the most popular automatic transcription tools available.
This tool transcribes audio and video files into editable and interactive transcripts. The outcome is still attached to the audio, and so it is easy to cross-check different parts of the text against the original interview. There is even a tool where you can insert custom words such as brand names and industry-specific terms for the platform to learn and incorporate.
For freelancers on a budget, this tool offers 600 minutes of free transcription every month. Otter also accepts a range of file types as input and is known to provide really accurate transcriptions. This tool can be trained to recognize voices and specialized terminology which further improves accuracy in the long run,
This tool combines artificial intelligence with human-powered work, resulting in really accurate transcriptions. Descript also offers additional plans for those using the tool more regularly and seek further accuracy. This tool is known for its incredible speed, offering instant results at fair prices.
These are only three of the countless services provided, each with its own perks and advantages. Just a quick online search will expose you to all the tools available.
Time is money in a freelance journalist’s world, so why spend valuable minutes on a task that new tech services can do? It is time to embrace what the tech-world has to offer and stay ahead of the curve.
Read more about how Journalism has evolved in the 21st century here:
Afterall, as a freelance journalist you have one main priority: to meet your deadlines, and automated transcription services can help get you one step closer to the finish line.
Freelance reporters are self-employed and report news stories and other information on an as-needed basis for various organizations. They must find, develop, investigate, and write their own stories. Freelancers must be business-minded and competitive, with the ability to find work on a regular basis.
While formal education isn’t required, freelance writers often have a bachelors degree in English
In theory, anyone can call themselves a freelance journalist because there are no rules or qualifications for entry. Generally, though, talent will prevail and those with the appropriate experience and skills are most likely to succeed.