Digital Voice Recorders In Journalism

Journalists use digital voice recorders to capture sound bites during press statements

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With all the hoo-haa surrounding the Julia Gillard vs Kevin Rudd showdown in Parliament recently I have found myself glued to the TV and twitterstream (in particular the fantastic work by @latikambourke) for news and updates on the goings on in Canberra. One thing I find myself doing when a press conference is on or a politician is hijacked as they leave Canberra Airport is watching the press pack thrust various microphones and digital voice recorders in the face of said pollies.

So what are the types of digital voice recorders that journalists use to capture that all important soundbite for later reference, broadcast or replay on Soundcloud? Digital notetakers are the norm for this kind of scenario, they are small, power up instantly but more importantly can capture the crisp clear bleatings of our elected representatives [earlier blog post – what is the difference between a digital notetaker and digital dictaphone].

These types of digital voice recorders are not expensive (between $100-$200 AUD) and are designed for just this type of media melee, generally running off one single AAA battery and Mac and Windows compatible with no need for software they are the perfect choice. Often I notice the budget VN series recorders from Olympus but more often that not the journos who know what they are doing grab themselves a WS series digital voice recorder.

Some of the key features of the WS series recorder are the record quality settings (high bitrate MP3 ranging from 198kbps to 256kbps) or even high quality, uncompressed PCM .WAV files although .MP3 files are preferred as they tend to be smaller in file size making them quicker and easier to move around the Internet. Some recorders also sport a zoom mic, handy for the less physical journo unable to fight their way to the front of the press pack. The zoom mic acts like a laser pointer, without the small red dot appearing on the targets chest, to narrow the field of audio pickup and to concentrate on the speakers voice alone.

When you combine one of these small high quality digital voice recorders with the Olympus TP-7 (telephone pickup) microphone you also have the ability to record phone conversations from anywhere – your office, out in the field, from home etc. as the TP-7 can be used with any telephone and plugs straight into the mic jack on the voice recorder – link to earlier post re: Olympus mics – look for the TP-7, sample recording included in the post.

So next time you see journalists jostling for position to record the speaker at a press gathering you will have a better idea of what it is they are probing with.

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