Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Tools of the trade

Someone just gave me a style guide for the music review Web site they write for. In regards to interviews, the editor requires a person to use a tape recorder.

Fair enough -

But the writer sluffed it off, saying he was glad tape recorders were required because that meant no note taking.

If you're a reporter, you should be laughing - or at least snickering. I kept thinking of the great reporters I read about in Gay Talese's book The Kingdom and the Power. Much of the events Talese documented happened before 1960. The most prominent journalists we learn about in journalism colleges usually had to rely on their notetaking abilities.

I've had my share of recording screw-ups. Be it batteries that fail, or beginning a recording with the end of the tape or those phantom happenings where it records, there's plenty of tape, but when you play it back, you receive absolutely no audio. Tape recorders are invaluable, especially when you're dealing with fast-talking subjects. However, I try to use it only as a supplement.

Sort of like the Internet -

I'm not a knuckle-dragging, anti-techno crusader. I inevitably use the Internet when I'm doing stories. Still - all you have to do is conduct a random search on something you want, but you can't seem to find (e.g. lyrics to Neko Case's "The Needle Has Landed"). You look at all the information that's available and the Internet probably documents less than half of all the stuff you need as a reporter. In some ways, it's more accurate than interview sources because you can easily double and triple-check information. Still, you think of people who are extremely knowledgeable on any topic - and most of them probably don't have the capacity to post a blog because computers "aren't their thing."

Some folks believe the Internet makes reporters lazy. I agree with this to some extent. Tight deadlines and reduced budgets force reporters to remain in the newsroom and not outside - where stories are happening. But doing stuff the "long way" doesn't necessarily make a person hard-working either.

Current listening selections:
Neko Case - Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
Wire - Pink Flag
Verve - The Complete Verve/Remixed Boxed Set


Post a Comment

<< Home