Image via Pexels: Accurately transcribing interviews plays a vital role in establishing and maintaining journalistic integrity.
While the term ‘fake news’ has been around since the late 1800s, it has become much more prevalent in recent years.
Viral misinformation can have severe consequences, particularly if it is used as a tool to shape global political discourse.
Journalism has long been open to manipulation, with some exponents of the art choosing to operate in an unethical manner.
However, many journalists still place value in maintaining integrity and work in ways where transparency underpins their output.
In simple terms, a journalist’s primary responsibility is to present factual information to their readers, regardless of the type of content they produce.
This must be done without bias, thus allowing the person consuming the content to make up their own mind about what they are reading, hearing, or watching.
This point is particularly pertinent when it comes to interviews, with some journalists guilty of twisting what a subject has said to suit their own agenda.
When it comes to maintaining journalistic integrity, accurately transcribing interviews plays a crucial role in achieving this aim. Read on as we take a closer look.
Introducing transcription in journalism
Before delving into why transcription is so important in journalism, we need to establish what it is and why it is necessary.
It involves making recordings on audio or video devices and converting those into written form to be used in news or features.
Transcription accuracy is vital, as this ensures that the information is presented in a manner that is both factual and unbiased.
While transcription allows journalists the opportunity to remove unnecessary words, it is imperative they do not change the meaning when undertaking this process.
The challenges of journalism transcription
Numerous elements present challenges to journalists when they are transcribing interviews including background noise and difficult-to-understand accents.
Background noise can make it tough to achieve an accurate transcription, especially if a journalist is interviewing more than one person.
However, it may not be feasible to conduct interviews in optimum conditions, particularly if the subject is breaking news occurring outdoors.
Despite this, obtaining clear audio or video provides journalists with the best chance of accurate transcription and presenting factual content.
High-quality microphones and cameras should be used wherever possible to minimize the chances of the content gathered being misrepresented.
Regional accents also present significant challenges, particularly if the journalist is unfamiliar with the terminology used in different places.
Incorrectly transcribing what has been said can impact a journalist’s credibility, damage a media outlet’s reputation, and may even lead to the interviewee seeking damages.
How technology is impacting transcription
Using top-notch microphones and cameras is not the only way journalists can use modern technology to improve transcription accuracy.
Software powered by artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly being used by journalists to eliminate some of the guesswork in transcription.
This can help to remove background noise, decipher regional accents and generally improve the accuracy of transcription processes in journalism.
However, while automated transcription software is undoubtedly useful, many journalists prefer to take a more hybrid approach.
By adding human editors into the mix, an even greater level of accuracy can be achieved when transcribing audio or video interviews.
The software can be used to accurately generate the full transcript, while the editor can identify the key parts of the interview the journalist needs to focus on.
This allows for the final content to be produced much more quickly than if the journalist was forced to listen to and then transcribe an entire interview.
Why accurate transcription matters in journalism
As mentioned earlier, any journalist who wants to build and maintain their integrity must accurately transcribe all of their interviews.
Misrepresenting or misquoting what someone has said can have serious consequences, both for the journalist and the media outlet they are working for.
Distorting what an interviewee says could spark legal repercussions, which can potentially cost huge sums of money if the damage is at the serious end of the scale.
There is also the reader, listener, or viewer to consider, as an inaccurate transcription can shape how they think or feel about a particular subject.
To maintain integrity, a journalist must transcribe an interview accurately to ensure all the facts, figures, and quotes are presented correctly.
Even a small error can dramatically change the context of news or features, which can be hugely damaging to a journalist’s reputation.
Publishing the full transcript of an interview alongside the transcribed content is an excellent way for a journalist to demonstrate integrity and transparency.
Accurate interview transcription – The final word
Any journalist who wants to build and maintain integrity simply cannot afford to transcribe interviews inaccurately.
While there are plenty of challenges that may prevent this from being achieved, it is undoubtedly feasible to minimize their impact.
The utilization of modern technology supported by a talented editor is the best way to ensure interview content is transcribed effectively.
‘Fake news’ is not only a threat to good journalism but also has the power to cause significant disruption to society as a whole.
The general public need to be sure that the media outlets they use provide them with factual and unbiased news and features.
By accurately transcribing interviews, journalists help to build and maintain the trust of their readers, listeners, and viewers.