I’ve been working at our student newspaper for four years now, and in just that short amount of time, the way we record interviews has come a long way. When I was a freshman, I can remember literally using tapes – as in, little boxes with magnetic strips in them – to tape speeches and conversations and turn them into articles. Back then, transcribing long convos or frantically looking for that one last quote on deadline meant enduring an ear-splitting screech in your headphones. And after long nights when, early on, I used to try to get every single word people said for fear of missing something, I can only speculate as the terror I’ve wrought on my eardrums.
It must have been late sophomore year when I got my first digital recorder, which, at the time, was an enormous improvement. I could archive dozens of recordings in one tiny device. It even came with a little button that let me speed up, or slow down, playback. No more piles of tiny green tapes, no more jamming erasers in the little white wheels when the strips came undone. And, thank God, no more brain-scrambling screech.
But these days, most don’t even bother carrying a recorder around – an iPhone works just fine. The iPhone, or whatever other smartphone variety you’re loyal to, is everything – phone, camera, camcorder, Netflix venue.
It’s also a remarkably convenient tape recorder.
Along with having easily twice the sound quality, recordings on the iPhone’s Voice Memos app are archived according to date, are easily accessible and a breeze to transcribe. I usually upload my recordings onto iTunes, where I can label important interviews to keep track of them.
Another feature I like, which comes with uploading recordings on my laptop, is the ability to drag around within the recording to find the quote I’m looking for. Much, much, easier than the old-fashioned tape method.
Using an iPhone e to tape interviews has become the new normal for the modern journalist – one more way to incorporate smartphones into the news gathering process. It’s a huge time-saver, and a giant leap forward from the old days.