Transcribing For News

Learn top tips for transcribing or “logging” interviews and live events under deadline, from Austen Bundy, a researcher for “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt.” Watch the video above or read some of Bundy’s remarks below.  

What does a typical weekday look like for you?

My shift technically starts at 9 a.m. I’ll start looking at my email and see what “Nightly” is going to cover. I will start looking at and reading all the news associated with that story. I know what the producer is going to expect me to find for elements – the sound bites, the visuals needed to get the news across.  

NBC News staff add a transcription to a news package

What’s a recent news story that required you to transcribe something?

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A package I worked on recently was a recap of the midterm elections, specifically referring to how President Biden and Democrats reacted to the Republican “red wave” not occurring. Late in the day, around 4 p.m., 4:30 p.m., which is pretty close to air time, I had the senior producer in New York ask me to log Kristen Welker’s interaction with President Biden at his press conference.  

I had to pull up the video feed really quickly, listen carefully to Kristen’s question and write down the timecode and what she said. Write down the timecode when Biden started speaking, what he said, and so on, for their four- or five-sentence exchange. Once I had that ready in an email, I replied back to the correspondent and the senior producer, so they could pick what they wanted from it. 

What can young journalists expect when they’re logging in a newsroom?

There are a lot more hands that go into logging than people realize. It’s not just one person. If there are a lot of logs to do, there are a lot of people who will help you, especially PAs [production assistants] and interns.  

If somebody offers to help you with a log, take the help. It helps a producer get things quicker. Better to divide a task up, as opposed to taking on something yourself and then not getting it back in a timely manner. Because then nobody wins, and the package and the rest of the newscast suffer.