Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Tape Recording Interviews and Oregon Law
One of the first questions student journalists ask each term is whether they can or should use a tape recorder or digital recording device when they go on interviews. Yes, I always tell them, but be careful.
First, you can't always count on your batteries or the quality of the recording, which means you should always take notes as well. Second, you may not always have time to listen to the transcript, so it's good to become a faster note-taker.
Most important, get permission from the speaker if he/she is not in a public setting where they may expect that somebody in the audience is recording their remarks. The same goes for telephone interviews. In Oregon, reporters, and anybody else for that matter, must get the permission of the person at the other end of the line before recording the conversation.
For a copy of the Oregon law, see the useful state-by-state guide provided by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
At her "Teaching Online Journalism" Web site, Mindy McAdams has a useful guide for reporters on recording telephone calls. It includes a list of new gadgets you can get to enhance the quality of recordings so they too can be posted.
(Photo credit: "Talking on Phone" by rd76pag, courtesy of Flickr.com.)