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Automatic Transcription Tools for Digital Newsrooms

5 Automatic Transcription Tools for Digital Newsrooms

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.

1. Trint
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.

2. Otter
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.

4. Descript
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.

5. Sonix
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.

Digital Publishing Industry

These 5 Strategies Are Revitalizing the Digital Publishing Industry

Bring together the leaders of news organizations, platforms, and foundations, and you’re bound to get some honest opinions on the state of digital journalism. Rather than focus on dire predictions for the future, the dozens of industry executives brought together earlier this year by the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard and the Lenfest Institute expressed an optimistic view of the future of digital publishing.

Publishing executives at the Shorenstein Center’s event agreed that reader revenue should be at the heart of sustainable business models for digital journalism, but they also acknowledged that newer strategies need to be explored in order for the industry to flourish. Revitalizing the digital publishing industry will require more than just the tried and true tactics for generating revenue online.

Advertising and reader subscriptions are still important, of course, but the industry group put together by the Shorenstein Center and the Lenfest Institute also came up with five new opportunities for publishers looking to grow sustainable businesses.

Let’s take a closer look at the areas of opportunity identified by this group of 63 industry leaders.

1. “Diversifying and strengthening revenue streams for journalism”

Despite the group’s instance that reader revenue should remain at the center of all sustainable business models, there was a lot of optimism around the idea that publishers can successfully drive support for their publications in different ways. There was also some acceptance among industry leaders that traditional revenue streams, including display advertising and reader subscriptions, are no longer enough to support digital publishing businesses on their own.

Diversification is something we’ve discussed quite a bit here at Web Publisher PRO. Our interest in diversifying digital publishers’ revenue streams is one of the reasons why we encourage our publishing clients to explore new opportunities, such as launching business directories, membership programs, and producing sponsored content for selected advertisers. Participants in the Shorenstein Center’s roundtable highlighted these strategies, as well as live events and direct public offerings, as potential solutions for digital publishing companies looking for long-term profitability.

2. “Field-building to grow a culture of philanthropy”

Interest in non-profit news organizations is growing, and philanthropic individuals are primed to support digital publishers’ efforts towards creating high-quality journalism. As display advertising dwindles, industry leaders are recommending that digital publishers begin exploring outside sources of philanthropic support. Accepting contributions from individuals and charitable organizations can create some challenges, and news organizations should keep a close eye on any strings that may be attached to donations from individuals that might have specific agendas.

3. “Finding and seeding growth capital for mission-driven journalism enterprises”

One of the hottest topics among attendees was about providing digital journalism startups with the resources they need to succeed.

Industry leaders say they have seen digital publishing startups struggle when they accept funding from firms with vastly different strategies for growth. One of the most substantial opportunities to come out of the Shorenstein Center’s roundtable involved the idea of an industry group creating a “Crunchbase for investors.” This website would connect investors and charitable groups with digital publishing organizations that have similar missions or goals.

4. “Growing the next generation of publishers in business acumen and leadership abilities”

Industry leaders agreed that it’s time for journalism schools to reimagine their curriculum, with a greater emphasis on business courses and financial education. One way to encourage this would be with the creation of more business-focused journalism fellowships, similar to Columbia Graduate School of Journalism’s Knight-Bagehot Fellowship in Economics and Business Journalism and UNC School of Media and Journalism’s business journalism program. Obtaining an MBA for journalism would give future digital publishers greater insights into how to turn around struggling companies and ultimately create the types of media organizations that could revitalize the digital publishing industry as a whole.

5. “Building products to increase revenue and engagement”

The final opportunity for revitalizing the digital publishing industry happens to be the one we’re most interested in here at Web Publisher PRO. That’s because we believe strongly that the key to growing this industry is introducing new products designed to increase revenue and engagement. Online directories, “best of” lists, community calendars, and jobs boards are just a few examples of the types of low-cost publishing tools that make sense for digital publishers interested in new streams of ancillary revenue.

If you’d like more information about the latest products we’re recommending for digital publishers of all sizes, we’d love to connect and offer some of our insights.