Friday, August 15, 2008


Recording Interviews

When I landed my first assignment - some 30 years ago when I was a beat reporter on my college's newspaper - I carried my trusty notebook with me everywhere I went. When the time arrived to interview someone, I had it close at hand and using my own version of shorthand, would record her words, hoping a brilliant quote would tumble from her mouth.

But that notebook recorded more than the interviewee's words. The notebook was filled with sensory details: how the interview subject responded to a question, the crispness of the air, the feel of the chair I'm sitting in. These pieces of detail added a personal touch to my stories.

Until June, I still took notes during interviews. It was after a two-hour interview for a magazine profile that I decided I would invest in a digital recorder. It's been a lifesaver! The model I have is small enough to slip into a shirt pocket. It's simple to use and reduces the possibility that I miss a word during an interview session.

I still carry the notebook with me, and while the recorder does its job, I take note of the small details I notice.

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