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taking notes

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by ScooterP, Dec 29, 2006.

  1. i've said this before on here, but one result of using a tape recorder all the time is that your stories can end up too quotish. i can for the most part tell from reading our prep guys' stories whether they used a tape recorder or a notebook because you get these overly long quote passages with redundant quotes and often too many words. editing quotes is important - especially now, when a lot of us are getting tighter word counts.

    another drawback i see with tape recorders is guys who are in pack interviews but aren't paying attention as long as the tape is rolling. writing down what I hear keeps me involved in the interview. but you have to balance that with frequent eye contact so the guy you're talking to isn't constantly looking at the top of your head
  2. Huggy

    Huggy Well-Known Member

    I use one of the older tape recorders - it's a Sony model that's never let me down (knocks on wood). I always make sure the tape is rewound to the beginning (it's not like we're doing loads of interviews) and as Norm said, as long as I can see that little red light blinking I'm happy.

    One piece of advice I picked up off an earlier thread like this was to set the digit counter to "0" and make note of the count at any pertinent quotes. Has speeded things up considerably for me.

    It's usually just me and the guy from our paper doing post-game with the coach. The paper guy takes notes and when I compare the quotes in his gameover to mine it's almost as if we weren't in the same room. He misses loads of good stuff, IMO, because he's too busy scribbling. I think his writing leaves a lot to be desired, maybe his notes do too.
  3. That speaks more to their writing ability, or lack thereof, than their note-taking ability.

    There's nothing worse than paraphrasing a coach as a lead-in to a quote, then using his exact words in that quote -- e.g. Coach Haywood Jablome said his team was too hurried on offense, which led to several turnovers.

    "We were too hurried on offense, and that led to several turnovers," Jablome said.

    I can't tell you how often I see that happen.
  4. Eagleboy

    Eagleboy Guest

    That's what I do, and it works well for me. I use a digital recorder and write down the counter at all of the important points, then write a couple of words after the time that spell out the gist of the quote. Usually, by the time I'm done, I have a list that reads something like:

    015 Proud for our performance today
    057 Defense was stifling and wouldn't let up
    120 Brown taking strides on offensive game

    At the very least, should the recorder give out, it will jog my memory. When I'm on deadline, I'll even put arrows or asterisks next to the most important quotes so that I can just go back, type those two or three lines out and move on.
  5. ColbertNation

    ColbertNation Member

    I'm trying to get my reporters to take notes, but they're very stubborn. They spend a good half hour efter every game just transcribing their notes sometimes. A good way to transition, though, is to use a recorder and take notes (this works especially well if you're not on deadline). Hold the recorder under your notepad. Do this until you can develop a decent shorthand and get through a story just on your notes.
    That said, I use my recorder on occasion (i.e. when I'm doing long interviews with multiple sources)
  6. RFB-Boy

    RFB-Boy Member

    I've found the recorder slows me down a lot on deadline, so I scrap my digital for that and stick to the scrawl. I'd second that it's always best to use a fresh page/pages for each person you talk to. I think the recorder's good for previews/features, and especially when you're interviewing someone with a very specific or different way of wording his/her phrases. Or when you're dealing with a sensitive topic where how things are worded are important. (Like the difference of being fired/put on administrative lead, little stuff like that.)

    I always keep a small notebook and a recorder with me, because I never know which one will serve me best. I've got the tendency to be quote-heavy with the recorder too, which is why I tried to ween myself from it fairly early. The nice thing about the recorder though is it can remind you of the inflection/feeling in the person's voice you may have missed while rushing to jot down notes.
  7. MC Sports Guy

    MC Sports Guy Member

    I used to use a recorder, but on nights when I also have layout responsibilities it just became too difficult to make deadline.

    Basically, I just write as fast as I possibly can while really listening to what's being said. Then usually deciphering some squiggles in my notes will trigger the entire quote in my head. That may not work for everyone, but it does well for me. Of course, the key to this is getting your quotes out as soon as possible. For instance, if it's for a feature story, don't wait a couple days to get to them. Then it gets really difficult to figure out what the hell I was thinking about.

    My question is, would it be anywhere near proper for me to insist that the writers under me not use a recorder? I've seen it cause deadline problems and it irritates me pretty bad, but if this person doesn't feel comfortable without one, I'm not sure if I should force him not to. Thoughts?
  8. ColbertNation

    ColbertNation Member

    I struggle with this, too. I'm trying to ween my guys off them. I don't think it's fair to suddenly demand that they stop using their recorders when that's all they've known for so long. But I really believe that once you get your shorthand down, it's much easier to take notes.
  9. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    No recorder?
    Try illegal wire tapping
  10. joe king

    joe king Active Member

    FYI, it's spelled ``wean.''
  11. not always

  12. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    I agree with this. The advantage of notes over tapes is you subconsciously edit the crap out of the quote.
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