Transcribing interviews takes time - a lot of time if you do it yourself - or money if you outsource it. You already have an audio record of what was said, so is it really necessary to convert that to text?

The short answer is yes.


The extra benefit far outweighs the investment in time and money. Here are five reasons why transcribing your interviews is essential:


Looking at a written record of your interview gives you a chance to analyze your style.

For example, do you cut your interviewer off mid-sentence with interjections such as ‘That’s interesting!’ or ‘I know what you mean’. These encouraging words actually stop the natural flow of thought from your speaker. This in turn may prevent interesting pieces of information from being spoken.

A review of your written transcript may also show that you aren’t asking concise questions. If you notice multiple incidences where your interviewee asks you to repeat the question, you may be guilty of not being as clear as you possibly could be.

Looking at a transcribed interview and doing a self analysis of your interview style could actually make you a more professional interviewer and can ultimately get you the right information for a good story.


In simple terms, you can skim and scan the written word much faster than streaming hours of audio.

It is likely you are relying on several interviews to build out your story or write your research piece. Looking at different sources as a whole instead of isolated interviewees makes it easier to notice trends or a reoccurring theme. Connections can jump off the page and grouping ideas becomes faster.

This is a near impossible task if you are just listening to audio clips.


More than anything, journalists and researchers must have accurate facts.

When listening to audio our brain is more likely to fill in gaps. If you can’t quite hear what a interviewee said your brain might unknowingly make a connection based on the context of the sentence. But this may not be what was actually said. Seeing the interviewees words in black and white makes this harder.

As an extension, when you pull out a direct quote from an interviewee to use in your story or research paper, you will need to be 100% accurate both with in the actual words and the context of how it was said. This is crucial to avoid defamation accusations. It also provides a written record should one be given.


On average, a 1 hour interview takes 5 hours to manually transcribe. An automated translation company such as Happy Scribe, can save you up to 70% of that time.

If you still feel that is unnecessary, read on.

Did you see a quote that you’d love to use in your piece? With a written transcription you can just cut and paste it into your story. Again saving you additional time.

Do you vaguely remember your interviewee saying something important you want to use in your story, but can’t remember where in the interview they said it? Finding that sound bite is a lot more challenging through audio. With a written transcript you can quickly find the words you were looking for. All you have to do is a keyword search.


Have you ever tried emailing a large audio or video file? Lots of new software applications do make it easier, but it can still be time consuming and clunky.Written transcripts are far more easier to distribute and store.

A written text also provides a way for collaborators to highlight key sentences and make comments and annotations with marking tools.


Transcribing interviews is a a necessary part of the journalists' and researchers' writing process. However, it doesn’t have to be tedious.

Outsourcing services like Happy Scribe can do the hard work for you by providing a written transcript of your interview in minutes.

Saving you time to go grab a coffee or text your mum.