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Your method for recording quotes

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Boobie Miles, Feb 2, 2007.

  1. Boobie Miles

    Boobie Miles Active Member

    Interested in what method people use when doing interviews. I'm not necessarily looking just for recorder/notebook, because at least for me the situation dictates it and I'm interested in the ways you guys do it to see if there's a better more efficient way of doing things.

    For example, when I'm doing a story that I'll have plenty of time to write I go strictly recorder and don't usually take notes. I know this can be risky because of mechanical error, and I was burned once when I did a 20 minute phone interview on speaker and realized after that the recorder died about five minutes in. Luckily I discovered this right after and was able to remember most of what the athlete said.

    When I'm on deadline, and say it's a press conference, I'll use the recorder but I'll also take notes and if there's a good quote I'll make a note of the time on my recorder so it'll be easy to find. Unless I'm really up against it I always listen to the recorder to back up my notes because I've found that I either can't write fast enough or I miss something while doing so.

    That's generally how I operate, but I have a few questions that I'm sure some of you experienced scribes can answer. For those who strictly rely on the notebook, how do you make sure you're getting the quote right? I've stood next to reporters who seemingly only write down about two or three words to a coach's answer and don't have a recorder. Are you just relying on memory? Is it something that comes with experience? How exact are you able to get the quote?

    And my other question is for really long interviews, like going to lunch for an hour with someone, what do you do then? Just set the recorder down and pretend like it's not there? Let's assume that it's going to be too long of an interview even for the recorder, then what? Have the notebook out and take a few notes? Or just have neither and go strictly on memory.
  2. John

    John Well-Known Member

    I use stone tablets. I tell people to talk real slow.
  3. There's some good suggestions on this recent thread: http://www.sportsjournalists.com/forum/threads/36693/
  4. Boobie Miles

    Boobie Miles Active Member

    Thanks, I never checked that thread because I don't use a digital recorder.

    My questions still remain to some extent though. If you're just writing, how accurate are you able to get the quotes.
    And if you're doing a long interview (and I'm thinking one where you get SI access are with the person for a long time) how do you record it? Seems impratical to use a recorder the whole time, especially if you're not actually interviewing them the whole time you're with them. And even notes seem tough because, again, it's not really an interview. I'm sure plenty of people have experience with this, Jones for sure.
  5. John

    John Well-Known Member

    I use a recorder for long interviews, marking the time at specific points when something important is said. I also take notes the whole time.
  6. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    I just make it up. Talk to them, listen to what they say, and then just guess when I sit down and write.
    No matter what, they will say they were misquoted if they don't like the article.
    During blowout games, I used to write down in advance what the coach would say. And most times it would be pretty close. Plus I got pretty good at asking questions that would give exactly the response I was looking for.
    Most coaches are as predictable as the sun rising and setting.
  7. I'm going to pretend that I didn't read this post ... I need to get some sleep.
  8. Norman Stansfield

    Norman Stansfield Active Member

    Great sig, WB!
  9. Thanks, apparently the last one was freakin' some folks out so I politely acquiesced and found a new one ... I guess it doesn't hurt to make people smile once in a while.
  10. sheos

    sheos Member

    All depends on the situation, who you're interviewing and what you're writing about. Assuming deadline isn't involved, if you're interviewing someone of somewhat minimal importance, you don't necessarily need a recorder to get everything word for word. And if you're writing about something you completely understand, the recorder isn't always that important. When I work on a story about a topic I know little about and don't totally get, I record everything because I need to be quote-heavy and let the quotes tell the story.
    Hope that helps - I saw nobody was helping in their responses so i thought i'd give it a try. There's not always a clear cut answer. If I'm hungover, I also like to use a recorder because writing everything out by hand hurts.
  11. tyler durden 71351

    tyler durden 71351 Active Member

    I usually rely on my notebook. About the only time I use a tape recorder is if it's a long interview and/or I have a bit of time to write an article. I hate transcribing tapes and I find you end up taking up a lot of time making sure minutia is correct...the sorts of things you would paraphrase or clean up for clarity or grammar.
    I have shitty, shitty handwriting, so my notes get cold quick. The only thing that's probably kept me from being sued for libel or getting drummed out of this industry is that I have a very good memory. When I'm done with the interview, I type in what I remember first. If something made that much of an impression on me that I remember it right off the bat, it's probably newsworthy.
    I had an old boss who told me to write stories first without going to the notebook, then go to the notebook to make sure your quotes and facts were accurate. He figured that kept you from over-reporting and bogging a story down with b.s. I never could quite do that....
  12. There's some great suggestions here - except for the whole Jay Farrar "I make it up" BS (Don't do that) :mad: - in the end it's what you're most comfortable with.
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