Top 5 Journalism Hacks (You're Welcome)

It seems like everyone needs a good life hack now and again - and Journalists are no exception. Tight deadlines, stressed out editors, huge swathes of information to wade through and buckets of coffee are common features of a typical day. So here are a few tips to help you get through that day, meet that deadline, realistically switch to decaf...

5. Wake up to your transcription.

The problem with lengthy interviews is that you'll have to spend three hours transcribing the text afterwards. But what if your deadline's tomorrow? That doesn't leave much time for writing the actual piece... plus you might need to go to sleep at some point. Our top tip here is outsource your transcription to someone on the other side of the world. That's right - find an Australian transcriber for example. Go to bed. Wake up to your transcription. Sites like Fiverr are awash with transcribers willing to type out your interviews for $30 or less.

4. Make a note of your time stamp.

No time to send out your transcription to Australia? A trick that many journalists (who often record their interviews on a dictaphone but also take notes as back-up) use is to pay attention... that's right. Don't rely on the dictaphone and that you'll have time to listen to 50 minutes of audio later on, before your deadline. If your interviewee says something pertinent, glance at the time stamp on your dictaphone and write it down. Then you can fast forward to it later.

3. Charge up...

Obvious huh? But I don't mean charge up your laptop battery and phone as normal, I mean charge up spares and take them with you. Imagine you're stuck at a press conference for hours (unfortunately a regular occurrence), so you catch up on some work to while away the time. Head to the press room after the conference is finished to file your story and voila... all the plug points are spoken for and your laptop is heading for the grave. I still haven't met anyone who likes filing their articles on smartphones (cue tired fingers and thumbs). Whip out your spare, fully-charged battery, however, and you can work from any seat in the house.

2. Use Evernote.

It's just the best note-taking software ever. Synch up 'to do' lists on your phone and laptop, return to the office and don't spend 15 minutes searching for a piece of paper in the depths of your bag (which will unvariably already be full of notes, paper, press releases and leaky pens...).

1. Use this too.

Messy notes? #shouldhavebeenaDoctor. You could spend money on OCR software to scan in your notes; and maybe the text conversion will be successful. But what's going to be more successful and infinitely cheaper, is to use the audio-to-text conversion feature of WhatsApp. Press and hold the audio icon on the keyboard next to the space bar, and read out your notes to find them magically converted into text. Now you can copy-paste and email your notes to yourself. Ta daa.*

*Thanks to brilliant freelancer Emmanuelle Landais for this tip.


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