If you are a journalist, you know that your job depends on your ability to be productive. The media industry is stressful and fast-paced. From the pressures of conducting interviews, meeting article deadlines, to constantly checking news feeds, journalists are constantly pressed for time.

To make your life easier and more efficient, it is essential to have the right productivity tools. From note-taking to automatic transcription to cloud storage, we’ve researched the favourite apps of journalists around the world.

Here is our list of the five most essential productivity tools for journalists currently available:

For Note-Taking: Evernote

Evernote is one of the most popular note capturing apps for journalists for good reason: it does everything! It is a one stop shop for capturing and storing almost any type of digital note across all your devices, including desktop, smartphone, and tablet.

Type up notes.  Create to-do lists.  Clip web pages.  Record memos.  Store multi-media. And keep it all in one place. You can even add tags, highlight important information, and annotate any saved content. Later, easily find the content you need by using its powerful searching tool.

Bryan Collins, who wrote ‘A Handbook For the Productive Writer: 33 Ways You Can Finish What You Started’ explains that he uses Evernote everyday:

‘I capture ideas for articles I want to write, I “swipe" articles by others that I want to reference later on, and I even store audio recordings and photo notes in Evernote.’

For Automatic Transcription: Happy Scribe

Savvy journalists know that manually transcribing interviews is an inefficient use of time.  One hour of audio takes four hours of listening, pausing, typing, rewinding and listening again to convert audio to text. In contrast, an automatic transcription service provider can transcribe an hour of audio or video to text in a matter of minutes.

Today’s technology also means that automatic transcription of audio to text is now incredibly affordable and accurate.  Additionally, service providers like Happy Scribe, can convert over 119 languages and accents.

Happy Scribe for Journalists not only saves time, but it can improve productivity in other areas. Finding a specific quote or piece of information in a piece of text is quicker than listening to a long audio file. You can also copy and paste the text, saving you time typing. Transcribed word documents are also easier to store and distribute, ensuring everyone in the team can access the transcripts, wherever they are. Additionally, story connections and reoccurring themes across multiple interviews are easier to spot in a written transcript.

All of these features speed up turnaround and improves efficiency.

To Block Distractions: Freedom

To actually get any writing accomplished, journalists need to limit distractions. Multiple neuroscience research agrees that multi-tasking makes you less productive and effective; sabotages your ability to do good work; and squelches your creative juices.

So, what’s the solution?

If you are extremely self-disciplined you can just switch off all apps and programs not required to do your writing.  However, this requires an incredible amount of will power. Most writers will need a tool that blocks distracting apps and websites until the article is complete.

One of the best apps for doing this is Freedom.  It blocks anything you want, anywhere you want.  This ruthless distraction blocker prevents you from accessing anything that you find distracting no matter if you're using a computer, iPad, or iPhone.

When you are ready to focus on your writing just create a Freedom session and choose what applications and websites you want to block. You can even create a reoccurring session, for example blocking FaceBook everyday from 7am to 3pm.

It does come with a hefty price tag: $6.99/month, $29.04/year, or $129 for life. However, to get my writing done, I think its worth it.

For Editing: Hemingway Editor

Hemingway Editor analyses your writing and shows you how to make it clearer and bolder. The tool uses colour-coded highlighting to spotlight lengthy sentences in yellow and structurally complex constructions in red.  The editor then challenges you to write more powerfully, by underscoring over-usage of adverbs, instances of passive voice, and unnecessarily complicated words.

The Hemingway Editor also has a readability feature which assesses what grade level it is written at. This feature ensures that your writing is accessible for your target audience. [Note: The average American reads at a tenth-grade level.] Additionally, Hemingway also provides basic stats such as word count, and the estimated time an average user will take to read the text.

Won’t it won’t do, is show you where you have grammatical mistakes.  For help with this part of editing, sign up to Grammarly.

You can use the online editor for free or download the PC or Mac version on your computer for a one-off fee of $19.99.  The paid for version offers more productivity enhancing features like direct publishing to Wordpress and Medium; functionality without internet connection; and pdf export with highlights intact, making it easier for team collaboration.

For Cloud Storage: SpiderOak

For many journalists a cloud storage app like DropBox might be secure enough. However, if you are an investigative journalist, with sensitive unpublished story drafts, source identities and other material, you are are going to need a more secure method.

For this, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists recommends SpiderOak.

SpiderOak helps you encrypt files locally on your own machine before they are uploaded to cloud servers using No Knowledge encryption.  No Knowledge in this case means that no one besides you has the keys to your data, not even the service you’re storing your files with. Also known as private encryption, it is the ultimate way in which you can keep your data private.

In comparison, most other online storage systems only encrypt data during transmission, meaning anyone with access to the servers (i.e. the company’s staff) could have access to it. With SpiderOak, a strong key derivation function generates encryption keys using that password, and no trace of your original password is ever uploaded to SpiderOak with your stored data.

This software allows journalists communicate, collaborate, and organize within the confines of the most restrictive compliance regulations.  It also has an online backup tool.


Quick turnaround times are essential for journalists and productivity tools, such as the ones mentioned above, can help even the most time pressed writer to be more efficient and productive

Do you have any additional productivity tools that you use as a journalist?  Then drop us a line and let us know.