Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Shorthand > scribble

I've been watching a lot of "Mad Men" recently and it's made me realize several things, like everyone cheats on everyone and I would love to work in an office where people wear three-piece suits and drink scotch at 10 a.m.

I also realized something that's relevant to work. There's a scene in Season 3 (or Season 4 .. they're all starting to run together) where Don Draper gets interviewed for an article in Advertising Age. Don and the reporter are at a restaurant and the reporter has a standard steno pad on the table. There's one quick shot that shows him writing on the pad, and it's all in very neat shorthand.

"Man, I wish I knew shorthand," I said to the dog asleep on the couch beside me. "That looks much easier to read."

I think all journalism students should learn shorthand. It's a lost art. I don't know a single reporter my age that uses shorthand (I'm sure they exist, I just don't know any). The closest thing I have is nearly-illegible scribbling that I can make out only if I look at it soon after writing. I'm sure I still miss tons of good quotes doing that way, even if I do get all the information.

Nearly all of my interviews are recorded now and I hate it. It's nice for an interview that I think is going to be especially long or something I need to save for the future, but it gets excessive when I'm recording post-game interviews because I don't trust my handwriting on deadline.

I think it's a mistake to just rely on recorders and technology for every interview. It's something I'm guilty of and am working on changing. It would be nice to have a short class in journalism school, or, if nothing else, make it a solid portion of news writing and reporting classes.

ShorthandI'm all for journalism moving forward with new technology, but knowing how to use the old pen and paper is important. With just a few shorthand classes, maybe I wouldn't be stuck looking at this:

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