Free Transcripts now Available on NPR.org

Transcripts of favorite, missed or maddening stories on NPR used to cost $3.95 each, but now they are free on NPR.org.

Previously, NPR charged for transcripts because an outside contractor worked fast to prepare them to be available to the library within a few hours of a piece airing. It was a costly expense which NPR did for the benefit of classrooms and deaf audiences, or anyone who wrote to Listener Services and was willing to pay.

As of the new NPR.org site re-launch on July 27, over 20,000 visitors had gone online to get transcripts.

Now, all you have to do to get a story's text is visit www.NPR.org and click on the transcript link to the right of the audio button, located just below the story's title.

Quotes from these transcripts are for non-commercial use only, and may not be used in any other media without attribution to NPR.

Why now?

"Transcripts were once largely the province of librarians and other specialists whose job was to find archival content, often for professional purposes," said Kinsey Wilson, the Senior VP of NPR's Digital Media department. "As Web content becomes easier to share and distribute, and search and social media have become important drivers of audience engagement, archival content — whether in the form of stories or transcripts — has an entirely different value than it did in the past."

NPR took the new website launch as an opportunity to offer free transcripts, according to Laura Soto-Barra, NPR's Senior Librarian.

"We made a decision to go ahead even though NPR pays a considerable amount of money to produce transcripts on deadline," said Soto-Barra. "Transcripts are posted six hours after the shows air, except for Morning Edition's transcripts which are posted four hours after the show is broadcast. We have offered free audio for a long time and we felt that free transcripts were long overdue."

New software allows NPR's staff to receive daily metrics and supply data for "most popular transcripts yesterday", most popular transcripts for the last seven days" and "most popular transcript ever".

Keep in mind transcript coordinators do their best to catch and correct errors on the text. But since there is a quick turn-around time on transcripts, mistakes can occur. If you notice a spelling or typographical error, please email Transcripts@npr.org, where it can be corrected.
Soto-Barra said that NPR transcripts may contain minor or significant errors, ranging from the use of "ex-patriot" instead of "expatriate." In another example, a transcriber mistakenly quoted filmmaker John Waters as saying of former Manson follower Leslie Van Houten: "She's a yuppie," when what he really said was, "She's not a yuppie."

Transcript coordinators "Dorothy Hickson and Laura Jeffrey do their best to find and correct errors but unfortunately, they cannot proofread every piece," said Soto-Barra. "Librarians and transcript coordinators appreciate when someone calls their attention to errors, particularly when they involve name spellings and use of (unintelligible)."

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