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The skinny on recording apps, devices for journalists

Recording apps

Finding the right recording app can be a challenge for journalists.

Recording phone interviews got a whole lot trickier when journalists stepped out of the office and started using cells as primary contact numbers. As a freelance journalist, I fought my husband for years on giving up our home office landline because I didn’t want the poor-quality recordings that clunky suction mics produced.

That was 10 years ago. You would think that, given the leaps and bounds we’ve made in communications technology, we would have come further. Yet most cell recording options for roving journalists are still a bit “meh.” Bottom line: Almost none of the recording apps are free (no matter what they advertise), most recordings they produce are a somewhat muffled and many are cumbersome to operate.

Some options, though, are better than others. Here are a few that Kip Program — and journalists we know — have luck using.

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Digital, not personal. It’s a bot time.

Recent news that the Associated Press will begin using computers to generate stories on sporting events was received in the journalism community like a high-and-tight fastball.

This wasn’t just a courtesy brush back. It was meant to send a clear message — we are replacing you.

Count me among those unsuspecting (former) sportswriters who was knocked to the dirt only to get back up ready to defend my honor. Where’s the integrity in the news game?

AP has made it clear it doesn’t need humans for these basic jobs anymore. It’s hired Automated Insights, a company it invests in, that has given the wire service a sophisticated algorithm using the English language and statistics to fashion text. The company’s defense is that it can keep tabs on thousands of college and high school games without the burden of staffing.

AP also has let bots, using Wordsmith, write basic business stories, such as those announcing quarterly earnings. Meanwhile, Narrative Science writes business copy for a number of business publications and the Los Angeles Times.

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Journalism ethics of reporting suicides

The jubilation of a football victory over arch rival Michigan and a looming Big Ten championship had barely set in for this year’s highly ranked Ohio State Buckeyes when the team and university community received the tragic news that a senior player had taken his own life.

missing-osu-player-1201-art0-glhvcsdk-1karageorge-mugDefensive lineman Kosta Karageorge had gone missing on Wednesday, the eve of the Thanksgiving holiday and a few days before the season’s final home game against the Wolverines. His mother had reported her concerns to police. The family’s worst fears were realized on Sunday when Karageorge’s body was found off campus, death by an apparent gunshot wound.According to information released by the family prior to his discovery, the 22-year-old, who also wrestled for the Buckeyes, had suffered a number of concussions during his football playing days, one as recently as last month. His mother said he had bouts of confusion. The effects were reportedly getting worse. He ended a text message to his mother saying, “I am sorry if I am an embarrassment . . .”

The decision to report on suicides has always been a tough ethical dilemma for journalists. The death of Karageorge is another in a continuing line of self-inflicted deaths that call on the media to act responsibility with their coverage. But the line of responsibility isn’t etched in stone. It’s not as easy as it seems; in my 35 years as a journalist the policy has been all over the place, usually created by editors, subject to change.

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