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What Is Media Transcription?

By Marlene Garcia
Updated May 16, 2024
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Media transcription converts audio and video recordings into text formats, which can be used as reference tools in the future. A wide range of media might be transcribed, including radio or television shows, podcasts, business meetings, and interviews. Basically any event recorded via audio or video equipment can be transformed into a text document through media transcription.

The legal system routinely uses media transcription to obtain text documents of depositions or interviews with witnesses. A police audio interview with a suspect, for example, is usually transcribed, with each juror in a trial receiving a copy of the transcript. This allows jurors to follow the conversation in written form while listening to the audio version.

Media transcription might prove especially helpful when a person speaking on an audio tape talks with a heavy foreign or regional accent. It also makes a conversation easier to understand if a speech defect makes words unintelligible. In instances where several people join a discussion, the transcript allows the listener to differentiate between individual speakers.

Another form of media transcription involves podcasts, which might allow sharing information with a larger group of listeners. Some podcasts are converted to text and posted on Web sites with links to the audio versions or video clips. This preserves written records of each show.

Transcription companies typically provide these services, converting analog or digital recordings into documents. Many companies create documents in various text formats, including PDFs and word documents. Transcripts of business conferences, meetings, documentaries, political candidates’ speeches, and feature films make up some of the services offered by media transcription companies.

Time codes or time stamps might be inserted into each line of text if the customer requires those details. Films or television show transcripts might describe the scene, indicate the music used, and include cues used in the production process. They typically include the credits in text form.

Raw video footage, such as reality television shows that are not scripted, might be more difficult to transcribe. Media transcriptionists usually add a description of a scene or the person speaking to improve accuracy. They attempt to capture every spoken word in each scene, which might consist of several people speaking at once.

Media transcripts might be useful for business or educational purposes. Students might find transcripts of university lectures helpful as a study tool. A journalist might seek a written record of interviews to ensure accurate quotes, especially when working on in-depth investigative articles. Some psychologists use transcripts to create written material to share with colleagues during lectures.

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Discussion Comments
By anon301664 — On Nov 05, 2012

Very interesting article! Thanks for the information. I have always been curious about production transcripts. This gave me some insight into the industry. Thanks again!

By orangey03 — On Jul 15, 2012

I work for a newspaper as a graphic designer, but I recently got to try my hand at writing. I was given the task of interviewing a musician who was about to have a CD release party in town, and I wanted to remember everything that was said in the interview.

So, I brought along a small tape recorder. I got the whole conversation on tape, and this made my job a lot easier.

I was able to transcribe the interview and get down every word. I didn't have to rely on my memory, so no words were rephrased, which could have resulted in a change in their meaning. Transcription is the way to go when you are doing an important interview.

By JackWhack — On Jul 14, 2012

@lighth0se33 – It must be nice to be able to type that fast! This sure would have come in handy in my college classes.

Just about everyone brought their laptops to class, but almost no one was fast enough to record everything that the professors said. One guy was able to do an almost perfect transcription every day, though.

He started selling copies of the transcription to students. These copies made great notes. I don't know if there was anything illegal about all of this, but they were really helpful when it came to studying for tests.

By feasting — On Jul 13, 2012

I'm always annoyed by websites that post only videos and no transcriptions. Some people, like me, have limited data internet plans that only allow for a certain number of gigabytes per month, so we are stuck reading articles instead of watching videos.

I am grateful to sites that always provide both a transcription and a video. I hate it when major news sites post the video only, because I really want to know what happened, but I can't afford to find out!

Sometimes, though, if I do a search for the headline, I can find a site where someone has transcribed the video. This is only if the news is big enough to be national, though.

By lighth0se33 — On Jul 13, 2012

I have always been really good at typing. I can type faster than anyone I know, and I actually enjoy it.

So, when my friend told me that he had recorded a novel that he had authored rather than writing it out and that he was looking for someone to transcribe it for him, I jumped at the chance. All I had to do was listen to a tape of his voice and type as it played.

Of course, I had to pause the tape periodically to catch up. However, I'm sure I was the ideal person for the job, because other people would have had to stop a lot more often than I did. My friend was astounded at how quickly I finished the job.

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