Every minute counts in the fast-paced world of digital news publishing. Every dollar counts, too. For publishers running lean operations, automatic transcription tools are a game changer.
The best automatic transcription tools are just as accurate as manual transcribers, and they cost a lot less money. They also require less time to complete than manual transcription, which means reporters and editors can get their stores online faster and move on to the next breaking news events.
Here are our picks for five of the top automatic transcription tools for digital newsrooms.
Trint is often cited as one of the best automatic transcription tools for journalists, and that’s for good reason. Trint offers automated transcription of audio and video files, powered by artificial intelligence. Reporters upload files into Trint, and the service converts those files into searchable, editable interactive transcripts. These transcripts are “glued” to the audio, which makes it easy to verify the accuracy of any part of the transcript without leaving the online editor. A vocabulary builder tool provides a way for reporters to upload custom lists of words—like brand names, uncommon names, or technical terms—for Trint to learn. The service can also be setup to account for multiple accents in audio files. Trint offers a pay-as-you-go service for $15 per hour or a Basic subscription that costs $40 per month for up to three hours of uploaded content.
Otter bills itself as a “smart note-taking and collaboration app,” but it’s the 600 minutes of free transcription each month that digital publishers really appreciate. Otter’s transcriptions are very accurate, and for reporters with fewer than 10 hours of recorded interviews per month, the service is totally free. Interviews can be recorded on a phone or computer, or they can be imported from another service into Otter. Some things to remember: Otter transcribes captions of audio recordings within a minute, but you’ll have to wait a bit for an even more accurate version of the transcript. Heavy users of the service can “train” the app to recognize voices and learn special terminology, which improves the overall accuracy of transcripts over time. Otter’s service is available via an app and through a website.
3. Happy Scribe
While Happy Scribe’s online transcription software isn’t perfect—and the company warns users to avoid uploading files with heavy background noise or heavy accents—it’s still one of the most useful automatic transcription tools on the market today. Happy Scribe converts audio and video files into text, which can then be exported into Word, PDF, TXT, and a number of other formats. Happy Scribe doesn’t limit the size of the files that users can upload, and completed transcriptions are usually ready within minutes. Once those files are ready, text documents can be edited and collaborated on from within Happy Scribe’s Interactive Editor. One of the more unique features is “heatmap mode,” which shows where the algorithm struggled and where users might want to compare the audio recording to the finished transcript. Pay-as-you-go pricing starts at $12 per hour, and monthly subscriptions start at $30 per month for up to three hours.
Combining both automatic and human-powered transcription, Descript boasts incredible levels of speed and accuracy, at a much lower price point than comparable services. Reporters drop their audio files into the Descript platform, and those files are uploaded to the server and immediately transcribed. Descript grades its accuracy with each file. While most transcriptions are nearly perfect, newsrooms can pay extra for White Glove service, which promises 99% accuracy in an average of 24 hours. Once files are transcribed, reporters and editors can comment and collaborate on the documents from within Descript’s cloud-based system. Basic plans are free, with 30 minutes of transcription and pay-as-you-go transcription that costs 15¢ per minute.
Powered by AI, Sonix’s automatic transcription software offers reporters a straightforward way to transcribe, organize, and search through their audio files. The web-based system works very quickly. A 30-minute audio file can be transcribed within three to four minutes. Because it’s difficult to achieve 100% accuracy with automatic transcription tools, Sonix has developed its own editing studio where users can polish their transcripts and compare them to the audio recordings. Every word that’s transcribed through Sonix is automatically indexed, so editors can refer back to specific interviews at any point in the future. Pricing for single users starts at $10 per month. Newsrooms with multiple users can sign up for subscription plans that start at $15 per user, per month.