The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos swoons over Otter.ai

. 1 min read

Nicholas Fandos covers the Capitol, where “a lot of energy goes into being in the right place at the right time.” Some in-house resources help.

How do New York Times journalists use technology in their jobs and in their personal lives? Nicholas Fandos, a reporter in Washington who covers Congress, discussed the tech he’s using.

What are the most important tech tools for doing your job?

At its simplest, reporting on Congress is about creating a record of what the people’s elected representatives say and do when it comes time to make laws, question witnesses and confront crises facing the country. So the most important tools as I chase after senators and representatives are simple voice recorders. I usually have two on me at all times to be safe. One is my iPhone and the other an old-school Olympus Voice Recorder WS-852 in silver. That way, if I need to, I can have the Olympus recording in one hand while I type a quote or even a tweet on my phone in the other.

My fellow congressional reporters and I are also swooning over Otter, which is technically a voice recording app. It transcribes in real time what is being recorded and sends both the audio and the transcript to the cloud. I can then log in on my computer, easily grab a quote out of the transcript and pull it straight into a story.

With 535 members of Congress, two chambers, dozens of hearings a day and a fire hose of possible stories, a lot of energy goes into being in the right place at the right time to get the material I need. I also rely on a few built-in resources to help wade through the mess. For one thing, the House and Senate each operate press galleries that will send reporters vote and hearing schedules, transcripts of leader remarks, and the text of bills under consideration — a daily godsend.