Keeping True To The Source

When working as a transcriptionist, I consider that my role is to capture what is being stated as accurately as possible.  If an interviewee is gracious enough to share their time, insights, and perspectives, then it is my duty to record those statements honestly.  This is not my interview, therefore my transcription should not reflect any of me if possible.  That said, I try to record exactly what I hear, including pauses and grammatical deficiencies.  If I am at all unsure about what I hear, then I make a note of that.  I do not try to interpret what the interviewee may or may not have meant, because I might get it wrong and that would do the interviewee great injustice.  Maintaining absolute accuracy not only demonstrates respect for the interviewee, it also establishes my own credibility as a transcriptionist and interviewer.


2 Responses to “Keeping True To The Source”

  1. 1 mal2013 February 17, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    So, what did you do to maintain accuracy when transcribing an interview that wasn’t “yours?”

  2. 2 Kari Jolly February 17, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    I think it is important to just relay what I hear, as verbatim as possible. Yes, there is some interpretation involved (ie: is that a pause or is that an end of a sentence?), but I must not lose sight of what my job is. My job is to provide as closely as possible an authentic transcription of the interviewee’s words. So what I do is listen and type; make a note if something sounded unclear. At the end, I proof read basically for my own spelling errors; I deny the urge to reformat grammar.

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The Williamsburg Documentary Project (WDP) strives to collect and preserve the rich past of Williamsburg, Virginia. By conducting oral history interviews, building physical and digital archives, and creating online exhibits, the WDP interprets Williamsburg’s recent past. The WDP works towards developing a better understanding of Williamsburg by bringing together individuals, local groups, Colonial Williamsburg, and the College of William & Mary.

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