FIN:2. Different methods of transcribing

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When you transcribe your interview, you usually start with some form of recording, like sound, video or simple notes that you took during the conversation. Often you will want to transform these recordings in some way in order to release an article. You should also make sure that the alumni that you interviewed are ok with the changes you made, and consider their wishes when they ask you not to publish a certain part of the interview.

Unedited transcription

Even when publishing an unedited interview there is some choices that you have to make and things you should be aware of. You have two major options:

  • Release the source material. This is probably the least edited form of an interview. You can chose between releasing your entire source file(s) or making a selection, as in cutting the sound files/video or releasing only a section of your notes. Be aware that this selection is already a form of editing.

  • Transcribing your source material. You can also transcribe your source material. When doing so, there is several choices you have to make. You should also be aware that there is no such thing as an objective transcription: Every form of transcription is already a form of editing and as such subjectively influenced. While transcribing you also have to make a couple of choices. Try to be aware of the effect these choices will have on the reader:

  • How organised will your transcript be? Do you correct spelling mistakes you made, do you use proper punctuation? Do you include erms, ums, etc.? If so do you do so in an organised fashion? An example of a transcript that intentionally does not pay attention to these things would be Andy Warhols novel “A, a Novel”. You have to be aware that less corrections mean less readability, but tools like this can be used as a formal point for example.

  • Do you correct syntax? For example, do you exclude fill words like “like”? Do you correct grammar mistakes that people make? Again, think about whether you want to make a formal point or whether you want to create something that is readable. As a reader it can be very difficult to follow an unedited transcript of spoken language.

Edited transcription

In order to create a more enjoyable experience for the reader, it is probably a good idea to edit your article. Of course, while doing so you should try to stay as close to the original meaning. There is several different ways of transcription, which will also greatly affect the outcome of your article.

  • Filtering unnecessary information

  • This is probably the most common way of transcription. While going through the interview you consciously pick certain parts of it in order to make the article more concise and to the point. This can mean cutting a video/sound file or filtering out certain parts of your produced texts.

  • This also gives you a lot of chances to create interesting content from a journalistic point of view.

  • There is a lot of different techniques you can use: You can leave out things, sum things up in spoken language, or even only write a summary of the events.

  • Differentiating interviewer from interviewee - type weight, colours, paragraphs..

  • Listen to the recording once and take notes on the important topics discussed then go back to the interesting parts and transcribe them.

  • Listen to the recording and write down bullet-points of the facts that occurred so that it becomes a third person narrative.