How can journalists use Spext to Record & Manage interviews?


All of us love reading the newspaper and for many of us, it is one of the first things that we do in the morning. But how many of us understand the pains that the journalists have to go through everyday? Not only do they have to visit every place where an event or mishap has occurred, but they also have one of the biggest challenges – Quoting people – exactly, word by word!

Doing this is extremely difficult, because if you change even a single word, the person may file a case against the newspaper. But the challenge becomes bigger when they have to interview multiple people for a story, say a investigative or research piece.

Earlier, they had to:

1. Record the interviews and store them.

2. Manually transcribe them out word by word. A 45 minute interview, took around 6 hours on an average to be converted into text.

3.To start writing the article, hear the interviews again. Simultaneously take notes or highlight the transcript.

4. Compile the notes and then start writing the article

That’s how difficult it was. But now with Spext, this is history. The entire process has become much more smoother, faster and cheaper?

How? Well, that is what we are going to discuss in this blog.

How to record the interviews?

This is the most important part of the entire process. If you are manually transcribing, a poor quality audio is okay because you can understand your and your guest’s voice easily. However, if you save time of transcribing later, invest in good recording equipment, as good recording makes things much more simpler and easier, and improves the transcription accuracy drastically.

Here are the key points to keep in mind while recording:

1. Use a good quality microphone instead of just relying on your phone microphone.

Many journalists make this mistake only to realize the blunder they have made and the pains they will have to undergo later on. Phone microphones are good enough for taking phone calls and receiving sound from a close range, but from a distant range, often the sound gets faded out and is quite unclear. Such unclear sounds during transcription give inaccurate results.

This is why, it is always recommended to use a good quality USB mic while recording interviews to do away with the possibility of a poor quality recording. If the interview has to be done remotely, softwares like Skype and Hangouts are much better than regular phone calls. Again, calls from laptops with quality headphones are usually better. Proper recording hygiene will go a long way in using Spext.

2. Recording in a quiet and calm place

While it is not always possible to control where the interview will happen, always aim for a quiet and calm place, like a conference room or a meeting pod. The distraction is minimum, and so is the background noise level. If you have to meet at a cafe or a restaurant, ask the waiters for a quiet corner.  This helps in improving the recording quality drastically, which if uploaded on the Spext platform, improves the accuracy of the tool greatly. Lesser noises mean lesser editing after transcription and lot of time saving.

3. Always do a sample recording with your own voice before starting the interview

This is something that many journalists don’t do as they can understand their own voices, even if the recording is of poor quality. After reaching the place of interview, simply set your equipments up and do a 2 min recording. It can be any random thing, or even a simple “Hello.” recorded from various distances. After recording this, simply listen to the output. If it is good, then you are good to go. If something’s wrong, you can fix it then and there before the interview. Even softwares like Hnagouts, Zoom etc allow you to test your equipment before commencing the call. A simple 30 sec test can save 3 hours later.

That’s all about the recording part. Now, let’s go to the managing part.

How to manage the interviews?

After the recording has been successfully completed, it is now time for managing the recordings using Spext. Some tricks:

#1. Always listen to the audio once fully before editing any part

If you ask the journalists how they edit the interview recordings there will be 2 opinions – The first one is to edit as you listen. This is followed by more than 90% of the journalists. The second one is to listen once to the entire audio, note the time duration of the unnecessary parts, and then edit. This is followed by less than 10% of the journalists. So which one is better?

Of course, our instincts would say the one followed by the greater numbers.

But, the truth is, the second method is far more efficient and faster. If someone follows the second method, there is a much better chance of understanding the flow of the conversation and seeing which parts can be removed. So, try skimming through the audio first at 1.5x/ 2x speed first and then than a person who has never heard it before. You can easily do this when you upload on Spext and click the “Transcript Editor”.

#2. Use the Spext audio editor

Almost everyone who uses Spext, uses the Transcription Editor. The underused gem of Spext is the audio editor. The audio editor can be used to edit the audio using the transcript.

You can listen to the audio, and cut unnecessary words such as “umm”, “uhh” or long pauses by editing the transcript instead of using complex waveform based softwares. The result will be a smaller file, both in length and size. So, don’t let the audio editing worry you.
Try our audio editor – it is really easy to use.

#3. Transcribe the interview using Spext

Now that the audio is ready, and the quality is good thanks to the recording techniques we have already discussed, it is now time to transcribe it and get it ready for printing. Just simply upload the mp3 file and the tool will do everything for you.

The accuracy of Spext’s tool is more than 88%, and sometimes if the recording is of good quality, it can achieve more than 92% as well. Once the transcription has been done, you can proofread the content once. And voila!

You have successfully completed your entire interviewing process with minimum hassles, time and effort. Our reviews tell us that using Spext, most people are able to transcribe 1minute of audio in less than 1 minute. That is 60-80% less time than transcribing manually. Give it a shot here. Happy transcribing!

Anup is the co-founder of Spext. When not listening to podcasts, he can be found doodling ideas, reading esoteric books or trying to make puns – only half of which are decent.

About the author

Anup Gosavi

Anup is the co-founder of Spext. When not listening to podcasts, he can be found doodling ideas, reading esoteric books or trying to make puns - only half of which are decent.

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By Anup Gosavi