1. Welcome to SportsJournalists.com, a friendly forum for discussing all things sports and journalism.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register for a free account to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Access to private conversations with other members.
    • Fewer ads.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Jill Abramson doesn't record interviews thanks to almost photographic memory

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Alma, Feb 5, 2019.

  1. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    How I Get It Done: Merchants of Truth author Jill Abramson

    "I do not record. I’ve never recorded. I’m a very fast note-taker. When someone kind of says the “it” thing that I have really wanted, I don’t start scribbling right away. I have an almost photographic memory and so I wait a beat or two while they’re onto something else, and then I write down the previous thing they said. Because you don’t want your subject to get nervous about what they just said."
    flexmaster33 likes this.
  2. tapintoamerica

    tapintoamerica Well-Known Member

    Not shocking. This is what can result from this arrogance. (This story, by the way, is one of the greatest things I've ever read.)
    RonClements likes this.
  3. Azrael

    Azrael Well-Known Member

    Ms. Abramson got dragged pretty hard for this on Twitter yesterday, even though she wasn't offering it as advice. Rather, she was explaining how she does it.

    I record and take notes, as do most of my colleagues.

    But if you know shorthand, I can see the appeal of not juggling a recorder, too.

    Still, it's problematic.
  4. Azrael

    Azrael Well-Known Member

    There's an interesting history to be written of journalism before and after the development of portable recorders.
  5. LanceyHoward

    LanceyHoward Well-Known Member

    I have always wondered how it was determined that Ms. Abramson or anyone else has a photographic memory. Have they had interviews taped and then they test their memory against the tapes?
    Alma likes this.
  6. Azrael

    Azrael Well-Known Member

    Good question.

    There's some doubt as to whether or not such a thing as 'photographic' memory even exists.

    And in this case it would be 'echoic' memory - extraordinary memory for something she's heard, not seen. Different part of the brain.

    If she's going to claim some sort of stenographic superpower, she should know which is which.
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2019
    ringer likes this.
  7. rtse11

    rtse11 Active Member

    Good for her. I'll stick with recording. Hell, I've got local school superintendents claiming their quotes were taken out of context in press releases.
  8. dirtybird

    dirtybird Well-Known Member

    I used to work in a town with a small online outlet, and they didn’t use recorders or notes. One coach flat out said he wouldn’t do an interview if the person didn’t have one or the other.

    (I’ve watched older reporters masterfully survive without recorders. Granted, they usually get better quotes than I do)
  9. TGO157

    TGO157 Active Member

    I don't doubt her claim to having a photographic memory, but she should still record her interviews.
  10. Junkie

    Junkie Active Member

    I crossed paths from time to time with a prominent writer/columnist who never took notes. Or recorded. He would sort of tuck his notebook under his other arm and pensively listen with his chin in his hand. Then the next day, his story would be full of quotes from that interview. My recorder must have sucked, because it never picked up any of the awesome comments. He's written dozen or more books and is revered by readers and fellow media members alike (or at least to his face; I imagine their private feelings are more honest). He's a complete fraud, but the wool is so far over everyone's eyes that it doesn't begin to matter.
    Doc Holliday, RonClements and SFIND like this.
  11. CD Boogie

    CD Boogie Well-Known Member

    If she has a photographic memory, then she put it to ill use. Journalism? JFC.

    Seriously, once digital recorders hit the market, I got one, and would only mark in notebooks the time of a particularly good comment and a word or two as a reminder of what was said. Then I could speed to that quote, even if I was on deadline. That way I was listening to people's responses and thinking about follow-up questions, not thinking about transcribing them accurately. Good for Jill that she has such recall.
    Doc Holliday, Tweener and RonClements like this.
  12. CD Boogie

    CD Boogie Well-Known Member

    We ain't got time for 20 questions. Who is this person and why don't I have their career?
    2muchcoffeeman and RonClements like this.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page