Is there anything worse about being a reporter than transcribing? Well, maybe, but listening (and relistening) to tape from an interview is one of the most mind-numbing tasks in journalism. Actually, your mind can't even turn numb, because you need to be at attention the whole time. Added to the fun is hearing your voice on tape, which at first makes you wonder why you haven't been punched in the face more for your bizarre inflections. Once you get to the top of the journalism heap, though, you can just get American Apparel models to transcribe for you! As long as your husband hired them to intern at his legendary literary magazine, anyway. Even if you yourself aren't actually writing for that particularly legendary literary magazine!
Lost in the short-shorted confusion of yesterday's item on Perrin Drumm, the American Apparel model who interned at The Paris Review, was this line from her interview: "Larissa McFarquhar did a piece about Barak Obama for the New Yorker, and I did the transcription for that interview."
McFarquhar is married to Paris Review editor Philip Gourevitch. Gourevitch emailed Doree Shafrir to assure her that McFarquhar paid Drumm for the transcription work, which is Paris Review policy for outside work by interns—but as Doree says, one would hope the New Yorker could provide transcription services in-house for their own staff writers.
Of course, having someone else transcribe your interviews is not always the best idea. Parts of the taped interview could be off the record or for background only. Having someone else listen to the tapes is a violation of the sacred trust of the journalist-subject relationship. And transcribing interviews is an important, if torturous part of the reporting process. Because transcribing requires your total attention, rehearing it offers more insights than reading it ever could.
But most importantly, journalists love to complain. And if you pay someone to do your transcribing, all you'll have left to bitch about is the job market.