Wick Communications

Rethinking recordings

In Writing techniques on 7 Aug 2014 at 4:20 pm

recording pic

For the longest time, I was never a fan of tape-recording interviews when working on news stories. Oh, I did it plenty of times. I have often taped interviews that are planned to run more or less as is in a Q&A format. I’ve also recorded interviews when talking to someone really important. I do it when I want to make sure I get the quotes exactly right.

But it was always a pain, right? Back in the day you had to be sure you had enough battery power in your tape recorder (and when I started reporting, those recorders were nearly the size of a loaf of bread), and then you had to transcribe your recording. Oh, yeah: First you had to find the danged recorder!

Then came cellphones. Now I’m much more apt to record an interview, because I have a good, well-charged recorder right in my pocket at all times.

A recent Ponyter post suggests that even the new tools come with existential angst. If you use a mobile app to record a conversation you want to read the terms of service carefully. Seriously. Some or many of these third-party apps store your conversation in the cloud. Some, like Facebook, even own your content after you post. Both of those scenarios could be a problem in a court of law. …

I have an iPhone and I prefer the Voice Memos app that comes with the phone. It can record a relatively long interview (it seems to take about half a megabyte per minute), and it doesn’t store the conversation anywhere other than the phone unless you designate your memos be stored in the iCloud. I’m not familiar with Android platforms but perhaps someone will comment with info on the Android version of Voice Memos.

Before you record anything, know the law. In many states, only one participant in a conversation needs know that it is being recorded. Elsewhere both parties must know they are being recorded. In practice, I would be very, very careful with any kind of secret recording. I almost can’t imagine doing that. I always ask my subject if he minds if I record the conversation. It’s just common courtesy and common sense.

Mobile apps can make your reporting job easier and your notes more readily available. Explore what’s out there and report back if you find something cool.



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