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Three Examples of General Transcription

by Joanna Norman

When I decided to become a transcriptionist, the question I got the most was, and still is, “A what? Transcription? What is that?”

A transcriptionist listens to audio or video recordings and produces a written document or transcript of everything that was said. I think the easiest way to understand what a general transcriptionist does is by example. So here are three examples for you.

Close up black and white photo of a microphone

Example 1: You are producing a reality TV show about training cats. You have hours and hours of videotaped interviews with three of the best cat trainers in the world. Rather than watch those interviews over and over as you are deciding how to edit them into this week’s episode, you hire a transcriptionist to transcribe the interviews for you. The transcriptionist produces one or more text documents (transcripts) that type out everything that the cat trainers said during the videotaped interviews with time stamps to indicate where in the tape the words were spoken. Let’s say you want to find video clips about training cats to walk on a leash. You can search the transcript for the word “leash” and read what the interviewees said. Then you can easily review any clips you are interested in using the timestamp provided in the transcript, and now you have an idea of whether or not you can use that footage in your TV episode.

Example 2: Your company provides consultation to with other companies to help them identify problems with worker satisfaction and possible solutions to increase employee retention. Your staff has just finished running eight hour-long focus groups over Zoom with different groups of employees in the company, and you need to compile all this qualitative data into a report. Lucky for you, your staff recorded all the Zoom meeting focus groups. You can hire a transcriptionist to create a text document of everything that was said in the focus groups so that you can more easily review all the data and write your report.

Example 3: You have an awesome YouTube channel about the best hikes in your favorite national forest, but not many people are visiting your channel. It turns out search engines don’t “find” video content on the internet.  A transcriptionist can transcribe your videos so that all of the content in your video is in written text format. You can then include the transcript in the description of your video, and now your content is found by the search engines. 

There you go. That is what I do for a living. It is rewarding and fun.  Of the three examples above, my favorite type of work is transcription for qualitative research because I get to utilize my science and research training and I love learning new things. 

Transcriptionists – what is your favorite type of general transcription work? Reply in the comments below. I’d love to “meet” you and learn about your favorite work.

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