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The Journalist's Guide To Deepgram

Just before the second presidential debate, we at Deepgram announced an initiative to give accredited journalists free access to our powerful speech search engine until Election Day (November 8, 2016).

The response, quite frankly, has been amazing! We’ve signed up journalists from dozens of national and international outlets, and have really enjoyed speaking with them over the past week. Our initiative has been covered in TechCrunch, and we were named one of the "Five Tools for Journalists To Enhance Election Coverage" by The Columbia Journalism Review.

Here, we’ll discuss some possible ways to use our platform that go beyond searching for sound-bites, and extend an invitation for feedback on how to make Deepgram more useful.

Deepgram Makes Journalistic Research Easier

Deepgram lets people search for keywords within spoken audio data like speeches, interviews, and personal voice memos. For journalists, we assumed the main utility of Deepgram was searching for damning soundbites from politicians. (After all, our initiative to give journalists access to Deepgram was inspired by the Trump tapes brought to light by David Fahrenthold on Friday, October 7.)

But after speaking with many journalists about how they do their work, we think Deepgram is useful for more than just soundbite search. Our platform can make the entire process of researching pieces easier. Instead of transcribing or manually listening to tens or hundreds of hours of audio content, Deepgram helps journalists search through that audio directly. We also make sharing and searching through the result of all that research easier.

Making The Need For Full Transcripts A Thing of The Past

Some journalists have asked about using Deepgram to create transcripts of spoken-word audio data. We do offer a transcription feature, and in many circumstances it can be pretty accurate. But, Deepgram helps journalists process interviews and search for quotes more efficiently by eliminating the initial step of transcribing audio recordings.

Deepgram helps journalists and media organizations turn the typical research workflow on its head. A speech search-first workflow lets journalists and research analysts identify the key segments of audio that may need to be transcribed by hand later. Deepgram saves journalists and media organizations time and financial resources by letting them find key words and phrases within tens or hundreds of hours of audio, with no need to transcribe or annotate it all up front.

Embedding Interactive Media

We built media sharing directly into Deepgram. At the bottom of any file in our platform, there is a unique HTML iframe element that journalists (or a web developer they work with) can paste into almost any content management system.

By default, we let users embed searchable audio media. We can create searchable videos as well, but for now that service is only available by request. (Our contact information is at the end of this post.)

Embedding searchable media makes pieces more interactive and engaging. For example, if a journalist were writing about a political candidate’s speech about tax policies, they might quote the candidate once or twice, but by embedding a searchable version of the speech and some recommended keywords (like "loopholes," “carried interest,” “estate tax,” etc.) they can invite readers to dig deeper into the candidate’s position themselves.

We demonstrated this to great effect in our blog post originally announcing our "Free Deepgram for Journalists" program by embedding Donald Trump’s acceptance speech at the DNC. Here’s a screenshot of the video and our suggestions to readers.

DG Trump Demo

A Quick Note About Transcripts

If you really want to use Deepgram for generating transcripts, you should know the following. If the audio recording is high-quality, the speaker’s pronunciation is crisp, and there isn’t a lot of background noise (like music, crowds clapping, etc.) Deepgram can transcribe words from spoken audio as well as specialty computerized transcription services.

But those services aren’t as accurate as human transcribers. For now, you’ll probably still have to copy-edit our transcriptions for punctuation and word accuracy. That being said, we’re constantly improving our transcription capabilities.

Remember: Deepgram Is Free For Accredited Journalists Until Election Day!

If you’re an accredited journalist and want to use Deepgram in your work, remember that it’s free to use between now and Election Day! Just email us and we’ll be more than happy to give you Deepgram credits (worth 75¢ per hour of audio content) for free!

Help Us Help You

We are committed to helping journalists search (and research) smarter. We would love to hear your feedback and suggestions for how to improve Deepgram for journalists and media organizations. We’d also like to hear about how you’ve used Deepgram in your work.

Feedback, suggestions, and requests for embeddable videos and Deepgram credits for accredited journalists can be sent to: Press@deepgram.com.


Cover image by Esther Vargas via Flickr, licensed under CC 2.0.

With contribution from Jason D. Rowley.