4 affordable transcription tools for journalists

Mar 15, 2023 in Journalism Basics
Recording sign

Most journalists don’t have the time to transcribe their interviews manually. Fortunately, there are many transcription tools available today that can speed up the writing process.

Not all options are affordable for every budget, however. For example, Trint, a popular option, is priced at $48/month, making it beyond reach for many freelancers. 

Here is a roundup of some affordable transcription tools, with information about languages offered and privacy regulations.


Otter, which has been around since 2016, was created by Sam Liang and Yun Fu in Silicon Valley. The software generates transcripts of interviews, which you can further edit. Otter also has a useful phone app you can use to record new, or upload existing recordings. In its Pro and Business versions, Otter Assistant can record online meetings, for instance on Zoom, for you when you can’t attend.

Price: The free version allows 300 minutes of transcription per month, and up to 30 minutes per individual recording. With the free version, you can record interviews in real time, but you are limited to importing three previously recorded files per account.

At $8.33/month, or $49.98 annually, the Pro version allows 90 minutes per individual recording, and up to 1,200 minutes of transcription per month. The Business version, at $30/month or $240 annually, enables four hours per recording, and up to 6,000 minutes of transcription monthly.

Discounts: The Student & Teacher program offers a 50% discount on the Pro plan.

Languages: Otter only works with U.S. and U.K. English.

Privacy: Otter respects the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Europe’s regulation for data protection and privacy. Otter says they do not sell your data, and that they comply with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), a statute intended to enhance privacy rights and consumer protection for residents of California. 

Otter has also stated it will not voluntarily provide data to any foreign (non-U.S.) government official or entity, unless compelled by a U.S. court to do so.

However, in 2019, a journalist at Politico claimed that his conversation with an Uyghur activist made on an Otter call might have been listened to by a third party. The claim has not been fully confirmed, but has raised some concerns among others.

Happy Scribe

Happy Scribe was created in 2017 by Marc Assens and Andre Bastié in Barcelona. Similar to Otter, the tool can generate transcripts of your interviews which you can then edit. 

Unfortunately, Happy Scribe doesn’t have a mobile app, nor does it offer subscription plans – you pay by the hour. Happy Scribe also doesn’t generate live transcriptions. It offers many more supported languages, however, like Mandarin, Persian and Arabic.

Price: $12/hour for an AI-generated transcript, which Happy Scribe says is 85% accurate. It also offers human-made transcription by a professional at $135/hour with 99% accuracy. 

Discounts: There are bundles if you buy more minutes. Students and nonprofits can receive 25% off.

Languages: 62 languages for automatic transcriptions, 10 languages for human-made transcriptions.

Privacy: Happy Scribe is governed by Irish law and respects GDPR regulations.

Google Pinpoint

Google Pinpoint was unveiled in October 2020, under the Google News Initiative. It offers much more than transcription, doubling as a project-management app for journalists.

Price: Free, unlimited number of recordings which can be up to two hours long each. 

Languages: English (U.S., U.K. or Australian), Czech, Dutch, French, German, Hebrew, Indonesian, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Ukrainian and Turkish.

Privacy: Google Pinpoint follows a rigid process for responding to government requests for customer data, according to its website. It discloses information about the number and type of requests received from governments through the Google Transparency Report.

Good Tape

Good Tape was created by the Danish media company, Zetland. Launched in December 2022, it remains in beta and will likely experience more changes in the near future. 

As of now, you can send an audio file to a form on their website and receive three transcripts – one without timestamps, another with timestamps, and a third in a subRip File Format (SRT), which makes it easy to add subtitles or captions to videos.

Price: The free version allows three transcriptions per month, and up to 90 minutes per individual recording. At $15/month, the Pro version allows up to 1,200 minutes of transcription per month.

Languages: Mygoodtape was developed through Whisper, a software owned by Chat GPT's company OpenAi. The software was trained on the internet, and the developers are focusing on fine-tuning their service in Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, German, Polish, Dutch, French, Swedish, Ukrainian, Norwegian, Finnish, Slovak, Greek, Czech, Croatian, Danish. Users have also reported the software has worked with other languages like Farsi or Catalan.

Privacy: The recordings are encrypted, kept within the EU, and deleted after transcription. 

Photo by Steve Harvey on Unsplash.

This article was updated on April 10, 2023.