Transcription Services Make Interviewing Easier

By James McGrath Morris

So you land a terrific two-hour interview in the course of researching your next biography. What now?

If you want to obtain a full transcript of your interview, the Internet will link you to two providers that I have found to be well suited for our line of work. In the past, most transcription services were designed for legal use and were costly because of
the demand among clients for precision. The following two options are well within a writer’s budget.

The first is a new venture called Temi. Using speech recognition software, it will produce a transcript within five minutes at a cost of ten cents per minute. Of course, it is less accurate than a human-curated transcript. However, it comes with impressive features. When one places the cursor on a word, it will reveal the time stamp and on the upper-right hand corner of the screen is an audio player permitting you to listen to the passage and easily make corrections.

I don’t find this a burden. I will usually only quote from a small portion of an interview and, in any case, I have to review the entire transcript to make those selections.

But if initial accuracy is your need, then Rev is the service you want. It charges $1 per minute and promises 99 percent accuracy, and in most cases delivers the transcript within 12 hours. It does this using a network of freelancers. It’s a kind of Uber of transcribers.

I use both options in the course of my present researching, turning to Rev when I have an especially useful and rich interview of which I might make extensive use. Using either service, I have adopted the following steps. I save the original audio file and the uncorrected transcript in an electronic folder. Second, I then print out my edited transcript, from which I have deleted material of no use to my project and confirmed the accuracy of those portions I might use. The printouts are then placed in a binder ready for use. The electronic versions are filed away, as well.