When I do my Google trainings for SPJ, one of the questions I get asked most often from reporters is, “What transcription tool should I use?”
Check that, what FREE transcription tool should I use? I keep a list of free and paid transcription tools on Journalist’s Toolbox, but I want to share two of my faves here:
The Ferrari of audio transcription tools is Otter.ai, which offers free and paid versions. I use the free version, but you (or your newsroom) may need a paid version depending on how often you use it and at what length the interviews are. It’s BY FAR the most accurate free transcription tool I have used. Feel free to challenge me on that by offering your suggestions.
It’s also simple to use. You can upload audio or video files to transcribe or record straight into the app or desktop tool. You can set up a free account using your Gmail and the Basic (free) account gives you more than 600 minutes of transcription time. The OtterPro account offers more file and upload options along with 6,000 minutes. Student and teacher discounts are available. A business account includes all Pro features plus time codes and additional security.
Google Docs Voice Typing
Google Docs added this feature not long ago that transcribe as you (or another person) is speaking. I’ve tested it a few times and found it to be useful and pretty accurate. It’s good for recording on the fly for a deadline story and I highly recommend it for teaching students who have technical challenges as it’s so easy to use:
1. Type in Docs.new to open a new Google Doc (cool hack, no?)
2. Go to Tools/Voice Typing in pulldown menu in the top toolbar
3. Start and record a conversation or dictate into the microphone
4. Edit after you are done with the interview. I recommend this over waiting. Edit while the interview is fresh in your head.
For more on transcription tools, read this Quill article I wrote last month.
Play this video for demos on how to use these tools:
Around the Web …
Some useful tools you can use for free …
Radio.Garden: One of the coolest tools I’ve posted here in a while. Zoom in on this Google Earth-like tool to find radio stations around the world.
Jimpl: Free online EXIF viewer and remover. It's useful to journalists for fact-checking, image location search, photojournalism. There are few other similar websites available, but some of them lack a secure HTTPS connection or the ability to remove EXIF data, not just view it.
Clipchamp.com: YouTube Podcasts: How to start a YouTube Podcast and how to promote video podcasts on social media to gain followers.
YouTube Audio Library: Find hundreds of rights-free music tracks.
In Quotes …
“Vigilance of public officials is, above all, the task democracy imposes on journalism…Over the course of centuries, journalists fought for that right. Our predecessors thought not only of their own freedoms but of ours, knowing full well that they would not leave us a democracy if they did not also leave us a free press.”
-- Marty Baron, Washington Post executive editor and SPJ Fellow of the Society
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