My apologies for the absence this last weekend, oh loyal viewers — wherever the five of you may be.
I took a little time for myself following the Honors Conference (both my panel and a few friend’s panels I attended on Saturday) to focus on the last few assignments I have to complete before the semester is over. Next week.
I’ve also spent a good chunk of the weekend letting the existential dread of realizing that “this week is my last full week of college” drape over me like a heavy blanket.
Seriously, what? That’s not real. Who allowed this?
To be fair, I may go back to school one day and get a Masters or teaching credential so I can be a teacher in my later years. Seems like that would be a cool way to give back after I make a name for myself.
But that’s not really a matter for here and now. I’m mostly just nervous about the incoming inevitability of having no excuses to not go after that name.
But not really, because Amazon isn’t paying me. If anything, I’m paying them — or at least my family is.
I will say the re-listen has been pretty worth it. Not only does the audio book make it easier to reacquaint myself with differences between the written and cinematic versions while doing other work, the act of listening is that much more fun because Wil Wheaton is reading it.
Wheaton’s reading leads to some beautifully meta moments, because he is personally mentioned in the story.
For instance, Wade Watts (the story’s protagonist) talks about Wheaton as a great representative of user interests on an elected council in the virtual reality world of the OASIS.
He says those lines without a shred of irony or winking to the audience, and it’s great.
But yeah… That has basically been my life. Everything y’all missed over the last couple days, other than helping a few friends through their own stressful life situations and watching Kill Bill with my family. Alyson had never seen it, and we needed to rectify that.
I know it’s a hot take for me to say it, but that movie is genuinely still incredible. A visual splendor.
If you need a little stress relief, like I have with all this impending graduation fatigue, go watch yourself some Tarantino. Or play a little Don’t Starve.
That impossible choice wound up landing on Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, my favorite game in the turn-based tactical RPG. So far it has been a great one, as I’ve had a ton of fun analyzing how Sacred Stones is arguably one of the most replayable games in the series due to its unit variety, random stat distributions, intentionally restrictive player choice options, multiple pathways and Permadeath concessions.
All wrapped up in a polished, 32-bit handheld bow that I adore.
Perhaps when all three parts of the paper are finished, I’ll try to compile everything and post it on the old blog here. Seems like something that would fit.
I’ve also spent time working on my essay for Cognitive Psychology, which involves analyzing a study that corresponds with the presentation I gave in-class last Thursday.
While the paper was easy to pull together, having a 3-page maximum limit, I’m still kind of struggling with the finishing details because of how confusing the professor has made certain instructions.
Something that has helped me work through all of this essay writing is a brand new investigative reporting podcast I recently discovered called: The Dropout.
Helmed by Rebecca Jarvis, the Chief Business, Technology & Economics Correspondent for ABC News, this podcast discusses the rise and fall of a company called Theranos and its female CEO Elizabeth Holmes — which basically defrauded millions of dollars from investors in promising a miracle medical test, also putting millions of people at risk.
Sounds like an ad, I know. But it’s not an ad.
Though… It could be an ad?
Hit me up, Rebecca. I’m sure you’re dying for these 10+ views/day.
Seriously though, it’s a fascinating story. I’m about three episodes deep and really looking forward to finishing the rest during my next couple commutes.
Because I could listen to Nando and DJ discuss movies on Mostly Nitpicking or Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman discuss celebrity news on Hollywood Babble-On for hours. But sometimes the real, raw journalism is far more of a fascinating subject to absorb.
Everyone always talks about the book being better than the movie.
But where do most people stand on the audio book compared to the book?
That’s pretty much what I’m going to be sussing out for myself in the next couple days as I listen to the Orson Scott Card classic Ender’s Game on Audible.
Not an ad for Audible, but could be an ad for Audible?
Hit me up, Audible. I could stand to listen to more books and it might help if I had extra motivation.
Anyway though. I will be listening to Ender’s Game over the next few days.
I’ve actually read the book before, years ago — sometime just before or after I blew through my Dad’s big physical collection of the Hitchhiker’s Guide series (condensed into one publication).
I was having a hell of a space phase back in Middle School/early High School, apparently.
However, as a part of the curriculum for Gaming in American Culture, I must read the book again. Apparently it fits in well with the themes of video game use by the military, our discussion for this upcoming class.
As much as I enjoyed the book years ago, and certain scenes continue to stick in my head (mostly the bursts of graphic violence and groin kicking oddly enough), I don’t exactly have a lot of time to sit down and read ~350 pages in the span of three days.
Midterms have stolen that from me.
So I’m going to be listening to the story instead. Work it in during my drives in place of podcasts for a while.
I don’t listen to audio books too often, so it should be interesting to see how the experience lives up to my time with the original book. Will I retain more? Will I notice things that I never have before? Will I use that momentum to finally go ahead and listen to/read the sequel novels past the quarter of Ender’s Shadow I read back in the day?
When I was picking up my sister from school, there were so many butterflies going around that I thought they were leaves at first.
It was nuts.
But I also don’t have a lot to say on it considering I didn’t take photos or videos of the phenomenon. So that LA Taco article will have to do.
Beyond that, all my time today has been devoted to the gym and homework. So… Yeah, disregarding butterflies, listening to the audio book for a book I have already read is the most interesting part of my day.
Purely due to the more philosophical questions I’ll be considering about the difference in media consumption over the next few days.
So hey, maybe I’ll come back to this topic at the end of the week.
Or even if I don’t, maybe I’ll have some more interesting blog topics from here on out!
Remember yesterday when I was gung-ho about going to the DMV if for no other reason than to have something interesting for my blog?
Funny how naive I was in thinking that the DMV could offer any sort of interest.
To be fair, it’s not like I had a particularly negative experience there today — unless you count PTSD flashbacks to failed driving tests or the generally oppressive air of bureaucracy washing over hordes of upset numbers in the government’s labyrinthine system of rules and policy.
If anything, renewing my license was a quick and painless experience. The kind of trip through the DMV that left me saying-
-after I left, but would not have been my “fun activity” of choice over going to the class I missed.
Thus that did not blossom into a subject to fill my entire post. Nor did the lovely lunch I had with Mom afterwards, as much as I enjoyed it.
When I decided to scrap the idea, I half-considered writing about my unusual blog traffic today. Analytics are usually a fun subject for me, and for whatever reason a bunch of people looked at my blog today before I even wrote anything:
However I don’t exactly have a reasonable way to explain why I got more traffic today than I have in recent days, so it would just be mindless babble.
… As though the rest of this wasn’t already mindless babble. I know, I can hear you all saying that to your screens amid a slow eye-roll.
I’ll get to the point.
I went in to CSUF for my late class, Comm Law. So far my favorite course of the semester because of the professor.
Today’s conversation broached into SCOTUS decisions which have affected obscenity and porn laws. It was a conversation full of amazing conversations and references one would not expect to hear in a classroom.
One such conversation involving that innocuous fair use butterfly photo I used for my Featured Image.
However, the way I see it I’ve just found myself increasingly interested in Pornhub-related subjects specifically. As niche a wheelhouse as that may be.
While talking about porn in class, I specifically brought up the yearly Pornhub analytics in reference to her joking about the existance of fetish websites for everything. In response, she told us about a podcast which dives deep into the way Pornhub has changed our society — for better and worse.
As someone who drives long distances back-and-forth, I’m always on the lookout for new podcasts.
So even though she warned us that it gets depressing after a certain point, I was curious and downloaded all seven episodes of the series.
That episode features interviews with the Belgian boy who brought the website into popular consciousness, as well as the technical guy from Canada who worked on things like search engine optimization and mobile user logistics.
With promise of going into all the nitty-gritty, uncomfortable stories about society changing, the challenges to that industry with a massive and free entity in their midst, and so forth.
If you’ve got the time for it, why not take a chance and listen through some niche podcast programming with me?
I, for one, am clearly excited enough about it to share if nothing else.
It also made me feel better enough to justify spending extra time getting into writing on the old blog here!
Which completely defeats the purpose of my giving myself the out yesterday… But hey. I did say I have messed up priorities there.
I would also argue that going to the gym tonight helped me burn off some of the stress. Which yes, I know makes this into just another post-gym posting for me.
Except this time the topic I wanted to delve into is only related to going to the gym.
While working out tonight I spent some time listening to the Nerdsync podcast. I’m positive I’ve talked about them before in one of my “YouTube Recommendations” posts, but in essence Nerdsync is a YouTube channel that I came across while getting more into the comic book scene over the summer which really thrives on intellectual takes on subjects in (mostly) superhero comics.
After getting through all of the video content there I discovered there was a podcast starring the channel’s main head Scott and his friends Chris and Bryce. Since then I’ve been listening through the ~130 episode backlog during my daily commutes.
Episode 89, which I happened to be listening to while lifting weights, was one of their recurring Trivia Challenge podcasts where the three guys make up quizzes for one another based on obscure comic book or pop culture stuff.
Through the episode I discovered something so hilarious that it not only killed off more of my stress, but also probably added a few years onto my lifespan.
In the golden age of DC Comics, around the 1950s, there was a series of stories under the title of “Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen.” It’s one of Scott’s favorite things and has become one of mine as well because it’s quite literally the goofiest stuff you’ve ever seen Superman involved with, to the point that most of it doesn’t even sound real.
That’s the case with this particular Jimmy Olsen comic, Volume 113 from June of 1956.
In essence, this was a story in which Superman tried to convince Jimmy he was in a dream after the reporter accidentally got a photo of Clark Kent changing into the superhero attire. He did so by doing ridiculous things like duplicating eggs.
If that wasn’t already wild enough, take a look at the cover in which everything is exactly the same… Except Superman is upside-down.
Yet even if that’s a trustworthy source, I still cannot believe that this is an actual thing that exists. Not only is it a ridiculous premise, but the fact that they decided Superman being upside-down was whacky enough to grace the cover of the book is astounding to me.
He flies! It’s not weird that he can turn upside down!
Everything is just… So good about this.
So, so good.
After hearing that this excited I needed to share it with the world. Because hopefully it can help you all feel better about life as it has for me.
Yesterday I was late on delivery with my blog post because I was busy all afternoon with my friends. Today, while I’m not on the cusp of midnight like before, I’m also a little later than I want to be.
But not because I was completely distracted. More because I found it a little hard to get my energy going.
That’s not to say I haven’t done anything at all today. I actually did get some serious work done interviewing an aerospace design engineer for Gladeo and transcribing that interview. For once it wasn’t a two-hour ordeal of a discussion to write out. Only a half hour.
It was actually very reasonable and easy to go through in comparison.
Even if, like I said, I wasn’t very motivated to get through it too quickly. So it still took me some time to transcribe out.
But I did get through the whole thing by the end of the day. I just have to go through what I got and decide how to lay out my Spotlight. It’s probably only going to be a Spotlight too, as a design engineer is sort of ambiguous to fit under one branch of engineering specifically.
You could be a designer for mechanical engineering, or environmental engineering, so on and so forth.
I don’t know exactly what category this interview might fit under, but that’s also not really for me to decide. I’m just the reporter, yo.
Doing that interview was about the only significant thing I did today, outside of helping clean the house where I could and playing some Enter the Gungeon on my Switch.
Another excellent Switch roguelike game, I might add.
Hopefully I’ll have more to discuss tomorrow, but for now I think I can essentially just leave this where it is.
The only other major thought I can think to expand upon right now is more of a simple housekeeping point. I think it’s about time I go through all of my social media and update it.
See I have a somewhat bad habit of just letting my Internet life exist in the void. Obviously my Twitter and Facebook are just megaphones for my blog posts here 90 percent of the time. Out of design mostly, as I prefer to let my thoughts fill a larger space than social media tends to allow.
As a result of that I don’t often go through and change my personal information. My Twitter Page still says I’m a news editor for the Daily Titan, for example, when I haven’t technically been in that position for close to a year.
Same problem on my Facebook page, where a lot of my interests listed are still things that haven’t been touched since like… Senior year. Of high school.
But probably the most egregious offense comes in my much more newly assembled LinkedIn page. That’s really the one that’s tripping me up right now because it’s the place people connect with me for more work-related endeavors — and it currently suffers the same problem as my Twitter page.
So over the next few days I think I’m going to go through and make them all perfect.
Then I’m going to do my best to update them more regularly. Because even if I don’t care about them THAT much, it’s important to remember that those are my forward-facing impressions to the world of 2018 more often than not.
So I haven’t really done this sort of thing for a movie that isn’t brand new yet. But a combination of not having too much else of note from the day and thoroughly enjoying this flick has led me to the conclusion that, yeah, I could stand to talk about some more filmography around here.
When Baby Driver first came out, all I heard was praise for it across the board. Yet I was never really interested in seeing the movie just off the trailers alone, so I passed it up.
Now that I’ve seen the movie, it has occurred to me that perhaps that was a mistake.
Despite it being about a year old now I don’t necessarily feel obliged to spoil the film for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet. After all I hadn’t seen it until now and feel spoilers may have still… Well, spoiled the experience. So I’ll try to be sparing with my plot details.
That said, for the context you’ll need, Baby Driver is the story of a kid named Baby who got himself into trouble with a crime boss and is forced to serve as the getaway driver for a number of robberies to repay his debt.
Just based on that description alone you must imagine the movie has a cliché premise. To be fair, it kind of does, right down to the way it winds up tackling the ‘innocence to hardened edge’ and ‘love over all else’ story arcs.
But even if the premise was clichéd, that doesn’t take away from how brilliantly it’s presented and handled by Edgar Wright and everyone else involved in the production.
Ansel Elgort, as Baby, makes for a lead that truly pops in every sense of the word.
His interactions with just about every other character in the movie offer him the chance to display a range of emotions. He goes from being a fun-loving, dancing fool with his deaf guardian to a silent, demure and downright prodigal criminal assistant to, as I mentioned before, a hardened badass. Yet, he never loses the good-natured core you see all throughout the movie.
He’s a truly lovable character to root for in spite of the concessions that tend to come alongside a criminal child prodigy story.
Though I would also be lying to say that his prodigal driving, a somewhat clichéd idea on paper if you replace that talent with basically anything else in an action movie setting, isn’t wildly entertaining.
In fact, every action scene in the film is thoroughly engaging. The driving stunts are insanely well choreographed and feel as distinct as the character himself.
Part of this comes from the way music is integrated into the movie. Only my sister knew this coming in, but most of the movie is actually paced alongside the soundtrack. The driving scenes and most of the on-foot action, both actually action-packed and mundane (things like laying out money in stacks), all follow the beat of whatever piece is playing over it.
The effect is well-done when imagining the scale of the job it took to capture scenes with very specific motions and tempos. However, it’s even better when seeing just how well that musical overlay is intertwined with Baby’s character on top of the scene direction.
There are lots of moments where the film makes it obvious that the music playing out is being listened to by Baby in real-time, which ties the character’s thoughts and actions directly into what you can see him doing on-screen.
Perhaps that’s hard to explain through text, but I’ll just say it helps to bolster the already strong engagement I had with the protagonist by seeing the movie around him play beautifully to his character.
The musical overlay representing real-time listening also opens itself up to other neat tricks.
Similar to John Krasinski’s “A Quiet Place” from earlier this year, the film uses its sound design to represent a main character’s disability in key moments. Baby’s tinnitus, which he tries to hide with the music he so often listens to, becomes the film’s sole soundtrack at a point where he can no longer listen to music.
Frankly it’s a brilliant moment that requires no explanation in the film itself because of how much they develop his character naturally leading up to it. It’s the kind of thing that happens and allows the audience to go ‘oh hey, I see what they did there!’
Sound design is the thing to talk about when talking Baby Driver, in my opinion. The action scenes are also great, but mostly because of how the audio plays into them.
However, there are other great qualities to talk about from the film. The characters are all well-acted, and the ultimate antagonist of the film isn’t quite as predictable as one might expect walking in (which is, thankfully, a nice surprise).
It’s also a very pretty movie, using lots of fancy swipe cuts to transition scenes and similar effects that create a cinematic style that stands out in its own right.
While I could go into more, I feel it would only be right to say that you should go see the movie yourself if you haven’t already. I had not been interested prior, like I said, but all of the wonderful things you’ve probably heard everyone say about Baby Driver is definitely true.
It’s worth a view, or even a few. It feels like the kind of movie that could be watched over-and-over if caught on cable in the middle of the night.
Trust me, for my family that’s probably the highest form of compliment that can be bestowed on a film.
So this post comes in response to what I wrote the other day about the dichotomy of transcription, why it’s a terrible thing to do but also why it’s the best thing one can do when practicing journalism.
I know there was a gap where I talked about videa gaymes because of timely E3 business, but these extended thoughts kept nagging at me.
There was another ‘con’ to the act of transcribing that I considered going into while sitting in Starbucks with mom, working on the first post. But I decided not to include it because the more I thought about it, the more the problem felt like one example of a larger, personal idiosyncrasy of mine.
The idea of being subjected to total silence as something potentially uncomfortable to endure.
Now, to preface this discussion with myself, I’d like to say that I don’t actually feel like I’m the only person on the planet who might just be uncomfortable with silence. If anything, I think it’s an inherent part of being as social a creature as humans are.
There are likely hundreds of scientific studies out there on the matter, covering things like our tendencies to fill dead air in a conversation by changing topics or inserting speech fillers like “um” or “ah.”
But I’m going to be looking at the subject from an entirely personal perspective. None of those silly “empirical tests” and whatnot to murk up my subjective torrent of words.
I’ve always been a rather introverted person growing up. Ironic for someone going into a field where they need to constantly talk to people, I know.
My passions have always leaned toward personal activities like reading, writing and video games rather than group activities like partying and sports. I had my groups to do things like play video games with of course, but you get the idea.
Because of that I’ve generally considered myself the kind of person who enjoys, if not thrives in more silent environments. Sitting sheltered off in my room to do work, for example, which has in the past led to my parents deeming it “the cave.”
Yet the more I reflect on my past, the more I’ve come to realize that perhaps it’s more the isolation in which I thrive, rather than the quiet. I say that because more often than not I’ve always tried to fill the silence with other noises even when I’m not with other people.
Video games themselves are the perfect embodiment of this. I’ve been playing them my whole life, and the songs and sound bites from a number of titles are just as iconic to me as some images, just as likely to help recall certain events or moments from my life.
As a quick example, I’ll never be able to disassociate the opening theme to Pokémon White 2 from the specific Target (right across the street from the South Bay Galleria) where I started to play the game for the first time after having put it down unfinished when it first came out.
The idea of making sound ever-present in my life goes much deeper than that, however.
As much as I love driving as an activity, I find my commutes to-and-from Cal State Fullerton nearly unbearable when I can’t listen to a podcast or a video as I go.
When I’m falling asleep, I can never just lay back and go to sleep. I have to do what I consider pre-dreaming, where I start to imagine some sort of scene in my head – a scene that includes some sort of dialogue or musical score – in order to really lull myself into unconsciousness.
While reading tends to be one of the exceptions to this rule, as sometimes ill sit silently just imagining the pages play out in my head, sometimes particularly boring novels for class can get so unbearable that I need something else running in the background to help me get through it.
More often than not I have my computer somewhere in the bathroom as I shower, that way I can continue to listen to whatever video series I have running while standing under the relaxing spray for arguably way too long.
The list, as I’m sure you can assume, goes on-and-on.
Having gotten far off-track with that background information, let me tie everything back to why I believe feeling uncomfortable with silence is one of the reasons transcribing audio is such a terrible thing for me. As counter-intuitive as that must sound.
Sound. Audio puns. You know the drill.
When I imagine audio that fills all of the dead space in a moment, it’ll often be the sort of things I’ve discussed already. Podcasts. YouTube videos. Music.
Hell, more often than not my family has the TV on, but it’ll be on a mindless channel like the Food Network just to create background noise while we do other things.
However, I don’t consider work audio, something I’m transcribing, to be in the same category of unencumbered noise to distract from the uncomfortable void.
Part of that could be distilled down to the psychological difference between doing something for pleasure versus doing something for work, I suppose. But I think it goes deeper than that.
When transcribing an interview, you aren’t simply jamming out or getting engaged with an adventure someone else is describing. Unless of course your interviewee is describing an adventure… But again, semantics.
Rather than having the chance to just mindlessly enjoy something and absorb what’s happening, transcription is a much more heavy-duty job. You’re listening to someone talk in the same way, but instead of just absorbing it passively you’re very actively listening to that audio, translating it and jotting it down before going back to make sure what you’ve jot down is accurate.
You become more like a wall or a mirror than a sponge, bouncing that information off to a different place rather than just taking it in. The activity is much more taxing, and it becomes easier to lose your interest.
But on top of that, the requirement to constantly repeat things for accuracy leads to a whole host of other internal issues inherent to the process. While transcribing is a “listening” activity, large portions are spent in total silence. Silence is needed to finish copying down the sentence you just heard before the subject moves into their next thought. Silence is needed as you go back in time to listen to something again, and one can’t even have any other sorts of sounds going on the side because the copying needs to be as accurate as possible.
Then let’s not forget the fact that when one is transcribing audio, they can’t necessarily think about anything else other than that audio, either.
While a mind can wander while going to sleep and fill empty space with memorized sounds, transcribing requires a person to repeat what they’ve heard over-and-over again in their head to make sure they don’t forget what they’re writing so they have to go back and hear it again.
That reminder of the sentence is noise to break up the silence, yes, but again it plays back to the mundane, repetitive nature of transcribing that makes it somewhat unbearable as an activity.
Imagine constant switching between total silence and hearing the same sentences on repeat for a few hours. That’s what transcription is at its core.
Whether or not everyone else in the world feels the same way about silence and how it effects things like transcribing is hard to judge since I’m just going off of my own thoughts.
But if nothing else, simply reflecting on those thoughts and trying to imagine why certain things make me feel the way they do, even if I don’t come to any sort of substantial conclusion, is something else that’s inherently characteristic of being human.
The ability to reflect on one’s own situations, and even reflect on the ability to reflect in the first place. That’s the kind of meta that I find fascinating.
Especially when it comes off of an essentially pointless “deep thought” that winds up boiling down to me complaining about my job, if you think about it hard enough.
After spending large chunks of the day working on transcribing an hour-long Gladeo interview (arguably procrastinating a lot but that’s a different story), I find myself reflecting on the art of transcription as a whole.
… And the fact that it is simultaneously the most helpful but also the worst, least enjoyable part of my job as an aspiring journalist.
It might seem like hyperbole to use such radical opposites to describe the dichotomy of such an important part of the job, but I can almost guarantee that anyone who works in the field will likely agree.
But from where does this dichotomy stem?
Transcription is an ever-present and somewhat unassuming part of the job. If you’re going to be interviewing and quoting a subject in print, you need to have their spoken words written out to be able to print them. It’s just what needs to be done.
On one side of the argument, transcription is mundane, boring and at times even seemingly superfluous. Many times in the past I’ve found myself working on transcribing an interview thinking “oh I’ve heard this before.” More often than not it’s because I have heard this before, as I heard it the first time when I conducted the interview.
However on top of that basic, unavoidable problem of just hearing repeat information, transcription is also a pain because it feels like busy work when going through the motions. You are quite literally copying down the words someone is saying onto a sheet of paper. There aren’t too many tools out there to assist with the job, either.
Because you want the most accurate wording possible so your piece comes out as accurately as possible, it behooves you not to rely on something like Siri to hear the audio and write it out for you because the computer can’t tell the difference between minutia when it comes to speech.
Ever tried to tell Siri to tell someone ‘you’re here for them’ and she instead tells them ‘you hear them’? Not the kind of mistranslation you want at any level of professional publication.
In recent semesters the Daily Titan staff has discovered a web browser-based app called oTranscribe which is honestly a godsend for the job. Not only does it allow you to slow down or speed up the audio you’re listening to, but it can be adjusted to do things like automatically time stamp, and there are other keyboard shortcuts that allow you to pause the sound while typing. Only it will go back about three seconds automatically so you can review the last sentence you transcribed.
oTranscribe is seriously awesome and has helped my job immensely. But… It doesn’t exactly address the problem of getting bored while listening to the same audio you’ve already listened to. That’s unfortunately an issue that will remain into the foreseeable future, up until some device that transcribes perfectly for you is invented.
In the real world, there are some factors that tend to alleviate the mundane boredom of the act. For example, it becomes much faster and more engaging to transcribe something when you’re, say, transcribing something live as a meeting’s secretary or rushing to get the words together for a deadline article that required a source who could only talk in the penultimate hour before publication.
I’ve done that before. Makes the process go way faster in my experience.
Without the “luxury” of a rapid turnaround to help enliven the process, transcribing can drag immensely.
Say, hypothetically, you have an hour-long interview to transcribe. An hour’s worth of the same person talking about the same thing you’ve already heard that you’re just writing down to help you later. Then add onto that the fact that there is no hard, set deadline to hit.
Someone could procrastinate forever on that kind of assignment. By doing things like writing an overly embellished blog post about the fact that you need to do it but can’t help getting distracted.
With all of that said, let’s look at the other side of the argument: Why it’s worth transcribing audio despite the heartache that comes with doing so.
I’ve had to handle stories in both ways I’m about to describe.
Some stories have been on such a last-minute deadline that I’ve had to rely solely on my brief written notes to find a time stamp for the quote I definitely need to throw in my story. It’s an effective system in that it’s fast — one of the more useful things it can be on deadline, but there are some problems.
More often than not, in the midst of an interview a reporter will be thinking about half a dozen things all at once. Not only is the necessity of the content their story requires and the deadline for which they have to get that information weighing heavy.
They’ll also be thinking about their next three follow-up questions that will give them the information needed. Except wait- the subject just said something really important an interesting. I better slot in another question to get more details about that.
Oh, and don’t forget to be checking the audio recorder to ensure it’s still taping. At the same time as you’re taking hand-written notes that are detailed enough to rely on in case the recorder breaks yet brief enough to make sure you don’t fall behind while the subject talks at a mile a minute.
See what I’m getting at?
Interviews are a serious juggling act, so much so that the overtaxed mind of the interviewer is likely to glaze over some details throughout the course of the talk. While those details may not necessarily be important, they could be. Hell there could be a perfect end quote for the story at minute 37 of one’s interview, but they were so busy jotting down notes from the previous statement that they forgot to mark down the fact that something good was just said.
In that first kind of deadline situation, the reporter might lose that quote forever because they’re in such a rush that they can only use things they’ve jotted down and know are necessary.
But let’s imagine a second situation. One in which the reporter has a few days or even weeks to work on a story. Be it a larger enterprise piece, a profile or even just an event story where they got a background interview in advance.
Should they suffer through the lengthy slog of transcribing that interview, suddenly a whole host of new doors open up.
When writing the article, now said reporter can have the transcription up in a window just to the side, allowing them to have all their information in one place that they can copy over without having to re-type everything or struggle to understand what’s being said on a pressured deadline.
Personally I’ve also found this method extremely helpful in that I can mark off what information I’ve already used by highlighting the transcript. It may seem like a small thing to remember what statement has been used versus which one hasn’t, but having the information laid out in a clear, concise way honestly frees up a lot of brain power to focus more on other thing, like where to go next or what statement jumps off the previous one best.
Then there are other benefits to having a written transcript, like being able to share it with an editor or fellow reporter who has offered their assistance in crafting/improving a piece. That way they can glance through the written words I just a few minutes versus having to listen to hours worth of audio just to catch up and know what’s happening.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. For as huge a pain in the ass transcription is, going out if your way to do so makes the entire writing process that follows monumentally easier. I can pinpoint specific stories where I wish I had transcripts of my audio, as they would have made those pieces leagues better.
The piece I had to do a few years ago on a presentation that was given entirely in Spanish comes to mind… But to be fair the issue there was arguably more about that language barrier than specifically the lack of transcripts themselves.
As unrelated an example as that may seem, it does actually highlight the chief reason I think transcriptions are essential for any and all journalists. You may think it’s mundane and worthless to listen to your interview twice-over, but the more you repeatedly look at something the more engrained that information becomes and the more you understand it.
In an industry where our job is to understand a person and what they’re doing intimately enough to convey that information to an audience presumably ignorant on that subject, the better you can understand the words you’re working with, the better you can convey the spirit of that subject through their words.