NWNL Transcription Guidelines

NWNL Interview Guidelines

The ethical goals for each NWNL interview conducted, transcribed, edited and published are to incorporate honesty and clarity and to be guided by respect to both the reader and the interviewee. NWNL interviews are conducted to help raise awareness of watershed values, threats and sustainable management solutions. In converting our NWNL interviews with scientists, stewards and stakeholders into readable documents, our primary guiding principle is to preserve the integrity of each interviewee’s spoken words.

There is no universal standard in preparing interview transcripts for publication; so to establish trust with our readers, NWNL hereby clarifies the approach and standards of our interview editing process. Our objective is to capture and convey perceptions and informational content, rather than to provide an opportunity to study the mechanics of their speech, grammar or ethnographic diction. NWNL edits are meant to balance the meaning, character and flavor of spoken expression with the need for readability.


• Unintentional repetition, over-used conjunctives, misspoken words, non-words, small talk, miscellaneous filler and subject/verb disagreements are usually eliminated.

• The order in which subjects are discussed within an interview may be changed to create sequencing clarity for the reader.

• The wording of the original NWNL question may be adjusted for sequencing clarity or context.

• Discussion not pertinent to questions in the transcript may be withheld to keep the conversation focused or saved for future interview transcripts on separate issues.

• Information added later by NWNL for clarity will be in brackets: i.e.: a feature that no longer exists, such as a waterfall flooded over by a dam reservoir.

• Contractions heard on the tape are usually maintained to reproduce real speech and character.

• Phonetic spellings for dialect are not used.

Upon request, interviews are available in their entirety, with the only edits being elimination of comments that the interviewer requested be kept “off-the-record.”

Resources consulted in the process of establishing NWNL Interview Publication Guidelines:

American Journalism Review http://www.ajr.org/article.asp?id=1340

The Canadian Journalism Project: http://j-source.ca/article/ethical-guidelines-editing-audio

EHow: How to Edit a Print Interview http://www.ehow.com/how_2305925_edit-print-interview.html

Florida Voices http://www.fcla.edu/FloridaVoices/transcribeInterview.shtml

Holmdel Schools, English Department http://www.holmdelschools.org/schools/satz/eng_dept/Writing%20styles/Journalism/how_to_write_up_an_interview.htm

Miller Center, UVA, Oral History Guides http://millercenter.org/oralhistory/styleguide

MN Historical Society http://www.mnhs.org/collections/oralhistory/ohtranscribing.pdf

National Institute of Health http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1400594//

NPR (National Public Radio): Ethical guidelines for editing audio http://j-source.ca/article/ethical-guidelines-editing-audio

Washington Monthly, Publish the Transcript! http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2007_10/012267.php