Journalist entrepreneur revolutionizes transcription process

audio video text

Join host Sheelagh Caygill as she explores the obvious - and less obvious - trends and influences in communications, PR, and marketing. Also explored are writing and upping your game as a creator of prose. In this essential listen, she interviews senior comms pros and thought leaders to reveal insights you can incorporate into your work.

Jeff Kofman
Jeff Kofman working as a journalist in Libya in 2011. Today, he is CEO of Trint

Trint transcription service

Technology continues to impact  journalism, but one thing that’s been stuck in the 1970s until now is retrieving content from a recording.

For decades, any journalist who’s recorded an interview has had to hit play, stop, and then type, and then go back and hit play and stop and then type away. Journalists can’t get a lot done until they have found that quote or sound bite that’s just right and captures the essence of a story.

Jeff Kofman, an Emmy award-winning journalist and foreign correspondent, is solving this problem. Read part two of this interview on podcast transcription, and then part three on Jeff’s journey from journalism to entrepreneurship.

Journalism audio transcription

In late 2014, Jeff left his illustrious career as a broadcast journalist to work full-time on developing a high-tech solution for journalism audio transcription. Today, Jeff is CEO and co-founder of Trint, a start-up which offers an audio and video-to-text transcription service that condenses a journalist’s workflow significantly.

Trint glues audio & video seamlessly to an automated transcript.

Trint’s key innovation is its machine learning-powered editor, which stitches together the text to the audio, making it incredibly simple to search, verify, and, if necessary, correct. It’s all untouched by human hands. And it’s a truly disruptive technology that’s already been adopted by NPR, Thompson Reuters, ESPN, and other organizations, including universities and publishers.

It transcribes in 13 languages, including English, and in three English accents: North American, Australian, and British.

Next week, we’ll talk to Jeff about podcast transcription with the Trint Player. The following week, about Jeff’s transition from journalist to entrepreneur.

Audio and video transformed seamlessly to an automated transcript

Jeff, many readers outside the world of journalism (or transcription) may not understand the significance of Trint and the breakthrough it heralds. Can you put this into perspective for readers and explain how Trint resolves the challenge?

We live in a digital age and that means that most of the communication we exchange is in the form of recorded talk, whether it’s audio or video. At least 80 percent of the Internet’s content is recorded talk in some form. But the problem is that it’s not searchable.

Trint transcription service that is searchable

So let’s take an example. Suppose you listen online to a speech about climate change in the Arctic. Then the speaker talks about how polar bears are losing their habitat. For someone interested in only the polar bear points, there is no way to find the spoken reference to polar bears. Instead, the listener has to go through it for the whole hour, or someone has to transcribe it.

That’s what is called dark data. Dark data means that there is a recording out there with content on it that nobody can access. It’s like it is off limits. What Trint does is it shines a light on dark data. You can take that hour-long recording and Trint it, and suddenly it is searchable on Google.

I can then put the words “polar bear” in the search bar and I can find it. I can see three references, I can browse through them, and find the one I want. And because the text and the audio and the video are all glued together, I can hit play and listen to the speaker and I can hear how she or he has said it and instantly I’ve accessed it.

Trint transcription service not just for journalists

So from what you have described, Trint is clearly a service that will appeal not only to journalists, but many others, too.

Yes, that problematic scenario that I just described applies to so many people, not just journalists. It’s for anyone who wants an audio and video-to-text transcription service, such as academics, lawyers, students, podcast producers, and more.

In fact, so that people can understand how much transcription is a headache for journalists, part of Trint’s marketing swag is little candies that look like Tylenol or aspirin, and we call them Transcription relief.

A need to search audio and video recordings

Clearly the hours you had to spend transcribing as a broadcast journalist inspired you. Where else is your passion coming from?

You have to think big and have a passion and a vision to do this and I believe that we’re creating a new language.

The world needs a way to search audio and video recordings and find the content and validate that it that it’s correct and share it . . . get it out there through journalism, social media, or through colleagues or corporate partners whatever your needs.

We need to be able to access the content of recorded talk. And Trint is creating an incredibly intuitive language. And what’s critical is to understand that automated speech recognition has made huge strides.

Speech recognition has made leaps and bounds in recent years. But as good as automated speech recognition has become, its errors disqualified it. For any journalist, we can’t use that until we know we can validate it.

There was no easy way to do that. We may as well just have just done it all  without automated speech because it took a long time to find  what we want.

Trint bridges that gap because we marry the text to the original audio or video. When you play the recording in your browser, you can follow the transcript and correct any errors directly in the browser copy.

Journalist, entrepreneur, and Tint CEO Jeff Kofman

Jeff Kofman is an award-winning journalist, and foreign and war correspondent. He’s a veteran reporter with ABC, CBS and CBC News and has worked in Canada, the U.S., Latin America, the Caribbean, and the U.K. He has reported on many of the biggest stories of our time including the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina and the Arab Spring.

Originally from Toronto, Jeff speaks French and Spanish, and has a B.A. in political science and government from Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada. You can find Jeff on Linkedin and on Twitter.

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