The iPhone helps again

I’ve never much been one for recording interviews. But that might change a bit.

Using a recorder always seemed more time-consuming to me — I’d rather have shorter quotes than have to spend all the time playing tape back, searching for the right quote and typing it all up.

Plus, I remember my college  journalism instructors warning not to depend too much on recorders. Technology can always fail you, they said. If the recorder breaks, you could be left with nada for quotes if you didn’t take good notes.

But on a whim this week, I decided to use my iPhone to record a Q&A with some bigwigs.

Once again, I found my iPhone useful for reporting. This time, I used a voice recording app.

The event was a gathering of military leaders, who talked about the military’s role in restoring the health of the Chesapeake Bay.

Following the opening speeches, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley held a “media availability.” In other words, they let us reporters pester them with questions for a few minutes.

Those Q&As can be tricky, especially when you ask a pointed question and the person answering doesn’t give an exact answer. Or sometimes, they wander a bit as they talk. Getting down a good quote — especially if you’re trying to keep eye contact — is difficult.

So as we waited for the shindig to start, I decided to download a free voice recorder app for my iPhone. (I couldn’t find the stock voice recorder, which I had hidden away in a folder because I never used it, haha.)

I didn’t have a chance to test the app too much, so I did my best to take very good notes, just in case.

When I got back to the newsroom, I popped on my headphones and used the recording to verify some of my quotes and to get down longer versions of the quotes than what I had written. Since it was digital, it was easy to move forward and back through the recording quickly.

So now I’m sold on digital voice recording — probably a decade later than everyone else. I don’t expect to use it all the time, but certainly I’ll pull out the phone to record comments on the run or maybe for really important interviews.

See, an old dog can learn new tricks after all.

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