Saturday, December 11, 2004

POST-SAFIRE. Jack Shafer has some interesting speculation in Slate over who might succeed the New York Times' retiring conservative columnist, William Safire. Though the smart money is on John Tierney, Shafer has a few other ideas - including former Boston Globe columnist John Ellis.

Ellis wouldn't be a bad choice (indeed, Shafer quotes from a 1999 profile I did on Ellis to that effect), but the timing is pretty obviously wrong, given that his cousin is the president. Still, Ellis would be infinitely preferable to that hack Fred Barnes, whose name is floating around for reasons Media Log knows not.

HELP MEDIA LOG! After suffering through one near-disaster too many with a tape-recorded interview last week (if my victim is reading this, don't worry - we saved it), I've finally decided to break down and get a digital voice recorder.

Media Log Jr. thinks I can get a good one for $40. My gut tells me I should probably pay a little more than that, though I'm not looking to spend a fortune. My requirements:

  • It should hold two to four hours' worth of stuff; more would be even better.
  • It must be compatible with Mac OS X.
  • It's got to have good transcription software included, or at least available by download.
  • An input to record phone interviews is a must.
  • I prefer batteries over a charger, but can go either way.

I've already ruled out a plug-in for my iPod - the reviews are mediocre. So what should I get?


Brian McFadden said...

The folks at Boing Boing recommended one for OS X and a transcribing program earlier in the week.

It's not exactly what you're looking for, but if your laptop's light enough, it's one less widget to carry around. The transcription software might help you out with whatever device you buy.

Anonymous said...

Go to the website for Olympus/USA in Long Island. Good stuff cheap, sometimes via their Ebay store, unlike some Ebay sellers, these folks are legit, (like buying direct from Kodak or Canon). They make a few versions of what you want, great if you don't mind waiting for your target price to hit).

Anonymous said...

Fred Barnes? I think the vice president got the "I've never seen you before" m-o from Freddie and his claiming, he'd never met or even talked to Michael Moore. He also advised David Brock to "stonewall it" rather than tell the truth he was a gay GOP guy. NG on Fredie "the Beatle" Barnes for the NYT. John Ellis too.

Anonymous said...

Dan - Macs aren't my thing so I can't comment directly, but I'll post your request to the PubTech listserv (all public radio engineers)...these guys know all the ins and outs of portable digital recording. Should have a bunch of good responses within a day or two.

BTW - you may want to consider the Marantz flash recorders, they aren't cheap but they're really good. PMD-570 and PMD-670.

- Aaron Read

Anonymous said...


No words yet on the soldier who asked Rumsfeld those questions and the role the media played in it? You are a media critic and I find it hard to believe you've got no point of view on this...yet you have time for thumbsuckers on who will replace Safire???? C'mon!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Dan,

I bought an Olympus DS-330 over the summer, and am totally happy with it. It's got 5 1/2 hour recording time on long play, 2 1/2 hour on regular play, with nifty functions for new files, etc. Comes with transcription software that is compatable for Mac OS and Windows (vital for me, because I'm Mac in the office, Windows at home) and the files can be converted into sound files that just about any system can read. It has a USB, a plug for a phone adaptor and is battery operated, but has another plug for an AC converter. Great sound quality as well - I've never had a problem with too much background noise or voices that are too soft to be recorded. It cost me $125 in NJ - a bit steep, possibly, but given how much money saved on tapes, I think I've already amortized the cost.

The only downside to a digital recorder, of course, is that it's only 5 1/2 hours long, so if you're on the road sans laptop (as I have been on occasion), you either spend a lot of evenings in hotels transcribing, or you become very picky about who you tape. And you have to become really vigilant that you've pressed the record button, since you can't see the tape spooling (this knowledge has been gained by sad experience!).

Good luck choosing!

Rachel Alembakis