Some of what journalists do is tedious, repetitive, time-consuming and expensive to outsource. Transcribing interviews, for instance, can take up a lot of time that reporters don’t have.
Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (MTurk) is a tool that can help journalists better manage these kinds of time-consuming tasks. It’s sort of like eBay for work: Post a task, decide how much you’re willing to pay and gain access to thousands of workers worldwide.
I talked to a few journalists who have used MTurk to transcribe notes, search for data and verify URLS and other information. ProPublica helped start this conversation when it published a guide for journalists looking to use Mechanical Turk.
Using MTurk for transcriptions
Andy Baio, a journalist/programmer in Oregon who created Upcoming.org, first used MTurk in 2008 to transcribe a 36-minute interview. The audio was transcribed in less than three hours and cost him $15.40. Baio blogged about his experience and provided a tutorial on how to do this yourself. Read more