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Re: [ARSCLIST] Aren't recordings original sources?

My experience with transcripts is that they are often far from perfect unless someone who knows the material first-hand puts in _much_ time editing the transcript against the actual recording. This is never done in mass-transcription settings. Court transcribers are amazing but not always right -- I've been in courtrooms where a transcript is read back and it's not accurate. I had a time once where I gave a deposition in a case as a 3rd party on behalf of one of the parties. I am so glad I asked for a copy of the transcript and tape and said I wouldn't certify the deposition until I checked it against the tape. There were several key transcribing errors that messed up the intent of my sentences. How many people do this, I asked the lawyer? He said, you're the first!

The problem that Mike Beil was describing, though, is more shaded. YouTube is even less relaible than Whacky-Packia. Every PC -- Mac or Windows -- comes with video-editing software. So nothing on YouTube can be taken as a complete, unedited source. So O'Reilly's blowup could have been heavily or lightly edited before showing up on YouTube -- or it could have been a selective portion showing O'Reilly in the worst light (or the best light, for that matter). I agree that it's an unreliable source. If the producer or owner of the show were to produce a complete video that they would certify is unedited (not sure how this certification would work), then that's a different matter. As for using newscasts as an original source -- a newscast is by nature a secondary source, highly edited, highly interpretive, highly filtered. I agree the original audio is more legitimate than a written transcript of that audio, as long as both are used and checked against each other (for instance, if there is a paragraph in the written transcript but not present in the copy of the audio you have, there is a problem, Houston). For scholarly research, unless you are writing a critique of something like a newscast, or using the newscast to show the editing and filtering at work, it's much better to go back before the filter and try to find genuine first-person sources. I always prefer to find as many original-actors as possible, because you need to triangulate their stories to get a clearer picture of the event (memories are imperfect and even the first person has a heavy filter/interpretation on everything). Bottom line, it's nearly impossible to know beyond question the micro-details of anything you don't experience yourself. "History" below a pretty high macro-level is usually just a glorified mythology, a compromise of competing filters and interpretations.

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- From: "Marie O'Connell" <azile50@xxxxxxxxx>
To: <ARSCLIST@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Wednesday, October 15, 2008 1:22 AM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Aren't recordings original sources?

Another twist to this is the actual transcript of a sound recording.  Having
worked on hundreds of Civil Rights oral histories whilst working in the
South, I found that often the transcribers put a completely different
emphasis on statements and words, which in turn gave what you were reading a
completely different meaning.  It wasn't until I was reading the transcript
AND preserving the audio that I was able to put my finger on it.  Ofcourse,
I made notes clarifying this.

In several instances there was one interviewer I recall who actually added,
he did the transcribing aswell, complete questions and changed the answers
of the 'talent' for purposes unknown!  I found this unacceptable.  I believe
these transcripts were originally made where perhaps it was thought that no
one would listen to the actual recording 30 years down the track.

Therefore, who DO you believe?  If someone has only researched the
transcript, then, in my experience, I would only find it more believeable if
the audio had been listened to in tandem.

My 6 cents worth.

On Wed, Oct 15, 2008 at 5:44 PM, Michael Biel <mbiel@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

We've discussed in the past why Wikipedia is not a reliable source, but
I have just come across another reason why we in the recording field
should be outraged.  They do not accept a recording or a recording of a
broadcast as a reliable source of information.  What somebody writes
ABOUT the recording IS acceptable.  Back in the 1960s, Milo Ryan, the
man who saved the KIRO collection of CBS news broadcasts, which contains
almost the only source of CBS war coverage, in an early ARSC talk that
also appeared in the ARSC journal, cited a horror story where a student
at the University of Washington was given a failing grade on a history
research paper because he had used as the primary source the broadcast
recording of a speech rather than a transcript or newspaper story about
the speech.  It was a discussion of the outmoded academic distrust of
any source that was not on paper.  "Here are the recordings, where are
the scholars?" was the title of his talk. It seems that this asinine
attitude is still not dead.

Here is part of the discussion of what is suggested to be put in the
Wiki page on Bill O'Reilly.  (Let me first explain why I was looking at
Wiki in the first place and why this page of all pages.  Steven Colbert
had just stated that O'Reilly had won the Nobel Prize and he knows it is
true because it is on O'Reilly's Wiki page because he just changed it.
And that O'reilly had also been Pope.  Since I was sitting at the
computer I immediately went to the page and these changes had not been
made, so I went to the discussion page and saw that it had been put on
protection as soon as Colbert had said this on the broadcast.  It seems
that Wiki editors always watch The Colbert Report since he has talked
about making fake changes to Wiki before.)  Anyway, the discussion I'm
writing about concerned the blow-up O'Reilly had during a taping of
"Inside Edition" years ago.  They were wondering if they should include
a discussion of it.  Then came the idea that the recording of the event
itself was not an appropriate source.  Not just because it was on
YouTube but also because it is a recording and not a published written
description of the recording.

>>>>> Has a third party reliable source commented in the incident?
>>>>> If you cannot find such a reference, then the answer is no. Bytebear

>>>> Steven Colbert showed and spoofed it on his show, The Colbert Report.
>>>> This was in turn referenced at www.primetimepolitics.com here.
>>>> If you see any relevance, now you have a source to use.Aaberg

>>> (youtube)-Videos are usually not accepted in WP unless they are
>>> accomplished by a (written) 3rd hand reliable source (no blogs
>>> and forums, etc.). Scripts of a news show may qualify too.
>>> If you can provide one or more it may be included. --Floridianed

>> Don't be mislead; youtube is not the source, just the transport medium.
>> The primary source is the show itself (Inside Edition), but we can't go
>> introducing it as a primary source as doing so runs afoul of the
>> research policy. However, there has been a substantial amount of
>> coverage in print and broadcast that serves as ample secondary sources
>> which details of the event may be attributed. /Blaxthos

> It is Wikipedia policy that this kind of information needs to have been
> written about in a reliable,third party source. I'm not disputing that
> O'Reilly suddenly got angrybecause I know it is true, however if it did
> not gain considerablemedia coverage then it is of little relevance here.

As a long time researcher I have long ago learned not to trust someone's description of a recording or an article, but should reference the actual recording and the actual article myself. There are many books I have that I use mainly as a finding aid to the sources that they used. While we do have to worry that recordings on YouTube can be altered versions and that electronic versions of newspaper articles are not as trustworthy as photocopies or microfilm of the original newspapers, but if the recording can be confirmed as being unaltered, why shouldn't it be accepted as the MOST RELIABLE ORIGINAL source??

Michael Biel mbiel@xxxxxxxxx

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