Tape Recording

Sometimes you want to record exactly what someone says to you, so you ask if you can tape the conversation. Sounds easy. But the trade-off for accuracy is sometimes extra nervousness for both of you and a lot of time spent playing and transcribing what you've recorded. Many good reporters, even when they have a tape recorder as backup, take quick but careful notes in a steno-pad (small, flips fast, easy to write on your lap). It helps to devise a few shorthand tricks—abbreviations for common terms, initials where clear, and standard symbols like "w/" and "&." The notes taken right there also serve to remind you about what was said both during the interview and later; having the pen in your hand helps you jot out further questions as your subject is speaking. Even if you tape, make your pen and paper work for you.

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