Recording Phone Calls

We want to make sure that you take special precautions to stay safe when doing an interview. The best method now, not always, is using your phone. You can record with Voice Memos. But it may not be the best quality. You can also get an app that does a good job.

Rev Call Recorder is available for free in the App Store. It says it provides free and unlimited call recording.

TapeACall is a favorite in the podcast world. It offers a free trial for seven days. That might work for your next assignment. But they ask for a credit card and that turned me off.

THE LAW AND RECORDING PHONE CALLS

Federal and state wire-tapping laws govern how, or if, you can record a telephone call.

You could be prosecuted or sued if you don’t follow the rules. So it’s imperative to understand and abide by them.

Federal law requires one-party consent. That party could be you. But individual states have their own laws. New York and New Jersey require only one-party consent. Again, that could be you.

But twelve states including California and Florida require all parties to consent to the recording.

You can check the laws of all the states here.

The Ethics of Recording A Call

It is always important to be as transparent as possible. Before you hit the record button ask your interviewee if it is okay with them. You want to make sure they are comfortable with having their voice and words recorded. They generally say, “Yes,” and appreciate being asked. This is the ethical thing to do when you are dealing with a regular interview.

The rules, not the law, change when you are interviewing for a story that requires undercover work. News organizations have different rules for their reporters and you want to make sure that you follow them carefully.

Journalists have a responsibility to honor the trust of the public and the people they interview. Please take this seriously.

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