The senior editor in the features department of Xinhua News Agency discourages reporters from using digital recorders during interviews, Elva reports. The editor, Ms. Huang, believes that reporters will fall into the trap of merely taking dictation and not try to rearrange the information from the interview in an interesting way.
Personally I think it is a good idea for the reporter to rely on taking notes because that in itself helps filter out a lot of unnecessary information and makes the reporter focus on what is being said.
At the same time, I think it is a good idea to record interviews in order to capture specific quotes that are especially interesting. It ensures that you, the reporter, are not putting the other person’s words into your own words. The recording helps make sure that the voice you capture in your written piece sounds like the voice of the person. The digital recorder is a good backup.
When I was working in England, I found that most journalists learn shorthand as part of their training. Almost no one does this in the U.S., and it is too bad that we were not forced to learn the skill. We all develop our own system of abbreviations and so on, but shorthand would help you capture more, miss less.
Karen has two posts: on the dangers of communications technology and social media as portrayed in the BBC’s series “Black Mirror”. And she comments on a Financial Times article about how Chinese singles are seeking life partners in Weibo.
How to pronounce “sybyzghy”
The assignment to create a slideshow with sound sent Cameron in search of good examples, and he found a really good one. On his recommendation, I watched several of the slideshows in an eight-part series on the music of the Kazakhs and the Kyrgyz, two ethnic minority groups from the Xinjiang province in China’s far west. The music and the reporter’s narration provide the sound. We get to meet a 9-year-old prodigy on the stringed dombra and one of the few females (perhaps the only one) who has been taught to play the Altai flute, called a sybyzghy — without the narration, we would never know how to pronounce it.
Nicole writes about how more middle school students from China are trying to get into high schools in the U.S. as a way of getting a head start on their careers. There is an entire industry that has sprung up in China to help students and their parents with the application process, filling out the forms and so on. It has also led to some fraud. This could be a great subject for an investigative story.
I always enjoy reading Daniel’s blog, perhaps because he named it after me, but also because he has interesting things to say. His most recent post analyzes the issue of poverty and how it is measured. He points out that figures obtained from gapminder.org, a site that he recommends for any of us looking for data on almost any topic, can be interpreted in many different ways. Indeed. That’s what we have to do; analyze with a skeptical perspective.