What captioners can expect from the NCRA Convention & Expo

Chase_square“I am so looking forward to this year’s NCRA Convention & Expo,” says Carol Studenmund, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, a broadcast captioner based in Portland, Ore. “The convention is our one face-to-face experience of the year. I’m making plans to see the folks I work with and work for; hit the receptions, the Awards Luncheon, and the President’s Party on Saturday night; and rub elbows with my online friends.” NCRA’s Broadcast and CART Captioning Committee members worked with the Education Content Committee to find “timely, interesting, and dynamic presentations from today’s leaders in broadcast captioning and CART captioning,” says Steve Clark, CRC, a CART captioner in Washington, D.C., who chairs the Captioning Committee. The NCRA Convention includes sessions for those interested in switching to captioning as well as for the brand-new and the seasoned professional. “What Exactly Does It Take to Become a Broadcast Captioner,” taught by Cathy Holiday, RMR, CRR, CRC; Heidi Thomas, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC; and Darlene Parker, FAPR, RPR, will offer a step-by-step guide for newcomers to take to become a broadcast captioner. “We will talk about the skills, software, and know-how you will need to succeed,” says Parker.

Some of the other sessions currently being planned are:

  • Transitioning from Judicial Reporting to CART/Captioning
  • Negotiation 101
  • Ditch the Transcripts: Captioning Is for You
  • How Marketable Am I?
  • Preserving the Profession: How to Promote and Spread the Word

Captioners looking to expand their opportunities may also be interested in attending the “Firm Owners Roundtable: What Firm Owners and Captioning Agencies are Looking for in New Hires.”

expo hall_squareClark also reminds captioning attendees to explore the Expo Hall: “Technology is changing rapidly. This is your chance to see the latest and greatest our professional vendors have for you.”

Certification opportunity

Attendees who are working toward earning the Certified Realtime Captioner (CRC) certification can participate in the CRC Workshop Aug. 10-11 and take the Written Knowledge Test on Friday, Aug. 11, completing two of the three steps to the certification. (The third step, a Skills Test, can be taken anytime online.) Candidates who took passed the Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR) Skills Test prior to 2011 are eligible to use that test history toward the CRC Skills Test, so they can potentially complete their CRC requirements by the end of Convention (candidates should receive the results of the Written Knowledge Test by the end of September).

Studenmund, who heads the Certified Realtime Captioner Certification Committee, says of the CRC Workshop: “I know you will learn something new, no matter how long you have been captioning. Then take the Written Knowledge Test right after the workshop — while the material is fresh in your mind — and before you know it, you are two thirds of the way to earning the certification.”

Networking

The networking is beyond compare, according to many captioners.

“I’ve made a lot of money from just a very few conversations with a few folks at Convention. Seriously, hands down the best value: networking,” says captioner Cindy Hinds, CRC, a broadcast captioner from Marbank, Texas, and a member of NCRA’s Broadcast and CART Captioning Committee.

reception_square“It’s the perfect setting to expand your professional network, meet new colleagues, and share your skill set with fellow captioners,” agrees Clark.

“The Opening Reception is a great place to connect and then make plans for the rest of the night. The same for the CART/Captioning Reception on Friday night. And when you attend the Awards Luncheon on Saturday, you will be motivated to move your skills to a higher level,” says Studenmund.

Don’t miss the savings on lodging at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, the host hotel for the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo in Las Vegas, Nev., happening, Aug. 10-13. July 4 is the deadline to register to stay and qualify for the special room rates secured by NCRA. Plus, register before the July 4 deadline will be automatically entered to win one of two full refunds of your entire registration to the event. Also, attendees who register to stay at Planet Hollywood on Friday and Saturday nights are eligible for free breakfast and to win one of six new Kindle Fire tablets in a giveaway. Don’t miss the magic of the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo, and the big savings on room rates and convention registration rates. Hurry, register now before the savings disappears. For more information or to register, visit NCRA.org/convention.

Online live and near-live captioning deadline nearing

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyTVTechnology.com posted an article on June 23 written by Heather York of VITAC, about the FCC requirements mandating that all live or near-live programming on television be captioned when delivered via internet protocol, which take effect July 1.

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Barbara Lynn Schneiter Jackson passes away

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyBarbara Lynn Schneiter Jackson, RPR, CRR (Ret.), Flagstaff, Ariz., passed away on June 18.

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Reporting the Keystone pipeline public comment meetings

By Sheryl Teslow and Lori McGowan

At a long skirted table on an auditorium stage sit five people in professional attire; at a skirted table on the floor sit two court reporters; in front, with their backs to the camera, are a father and his two young sons, all three dressed in jeans, plaid shirts, boots, and ball caps

Lori McGowan, center left, and Sheryl Teslow, center right, write the public’s comments on the Keystone pipeline. Photo courtesy Omaha World-Herald.

In 2013, the U.S. State Department held a public comment hearing in Grand Island, Neb., as part of the presidential permit application. The pipeline is designed to carry tar-sands oil from Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf Coast for refinery and export. Because it crosses the border with Canada, the presidential permit is required.

Latimer Reporting was hired to report the day-long hearing. Lori and I took on the assignment ourselves. We knew it would go all day and into the night, so we knew we wanted two reporters. At first, we thought one would do the first half and the other would cover the second half. At the last minute, we decided to ride out together, so we were both there from the beginning. That turned out to be incredibly helpful. I took the first section of testimony. The first few witnesses were Native Americans who spoke in both Lakota and English, using many unfamiliar names of people and places. When the first speaker finished, Lori had the presence of mind to approach him before he sat back down and asked for the notes he was reading from. We continued that practice throughout the entire hearing. We were not always able to convince the speakers to turn over their notes, but most of them did cooperate. The hearing began at noon and ended at 11 p.m. The transcript was 494 pages.

The pipeline and its route are highly controversial and in 2015, President Barack Obama denied the permit. In 2017, President Donald Trump revived the project, and the responsibility for siting the pipeline through Nebraska now rests with the Nebraska Public Service Commission. They scheduled a public comment meeting to be held in York. Latimer Reporting, and Lori in particular, has a great deal of experience with the Public Service Commission, so they asked us to cover this hearing. The hearing began at 9 a.m. and ended at 7 p.m. The transcript was 406 pages.

Since Lori and I had the experience in 2013, we, of course, took on the assignment again and used the same process. One of us would write the proceedings and the other would track down speakers as they finished and request their notes, and then we would switch off.

As far as preparation, we really didn’t do that much to prepare for the first hearing in 2013. We were familiar with the issue and some of the interested groups. We did do a little bit of internet searching for some possible technical terms that might come up, but there wasn’t much we could do to prepare. There was no list of witnesses and no appearances of counsel. Most of the speakers were concerned citizens and landowners, so there wasn’t a great deal of technical testimony.

The same things were true in 2017. We arrived at the venue two hours ahead of the scheduled start time and made sure that the sound system was in good working order and that we were directly in front of the speaker podiums. We had our job dictionaries from the first hearing and were now more familiar with the names of people and places and technical terms that were likely to come up.

The 2013 transcript was used by the State Department. We were told it would eventually end up on President Obama’s desk and was part of the official record used to deny the pipeline permit. The 2017 transcript will become part of the official record of the Nebraska Public Service Commission in their decision on siting.

Public comment hearings do present some interesting challenges. Speakers are given five minutes to present their testimony. Very few of them are used to public speaking. They are speaking to a very large crowd and in front of many television news cameras, so they are nervous and tend to read from their notes very quickly. The large crowd behind them at times reacts loudly, sometimes in support and sometimes in opposition to what they are saying, sometimes to the point of drowning the speaker out. There are speakers who cry and speakers who are angry and speakers who yell, so it can be a challenge sometimes to hear them. Again, most people were cooperative in turning their notes over to us when we explained it would help us prepare the transcript. When they were reluctant, we offered to give them an envelope and promised to return the original to them. Some speakers would let us take a photo with a phone.

Each speaker was required to register and received a number. They filled out a sheet with their name, place of residence, speaker number, and whether they were speaking in support or in opposition. Speakers were called up to the microphone in order. They had five minutes to speak. They were instructed to leave those sheets with us at the end of their time. So when we retrieved the notes they had read from, it was easy to keep the notes with the sign-in sheet and the speaker number.

Quite honestly, at the end of the hearing in 2013, Lori and I looked at each other and said, “Never again.” The experience was stressful and draining and a bit out of our comfort zone. But as is usually true, an experience that challenges you is rewarding in the end, and it was interesting and fun to be in the middle of history. So naturally, when our client asked us to do it again, we took a deep breath and said yes.

Sheryl Teslow, RDR, CRR, and Lori McGowan, RDR, CRR, are both owners of Latimer Reporting in Lincoln, Neb.

Cosby trial puts court stenographer in spotlight

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyIn a June 15 post on his blog, Carl Hessler Jr., a journalist who covers the Montgomery County (Pa.) Courthouse, praised the professionalism of NCRA member Ginny Womelsdorf, RPR, who reported the Bill Cosby trial. Hessler highlighted the extensive readback that Womelsdorf was asked to do and included positive reactions to her hard work from Twitter.

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Court reporting dominates local news in Texas

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyNCRA members Cayce Coskey, RPR; Leslie Ryan-Hash; Carol Smith, RPR; and Nardi Reeves were quoted in an article posted June 18 by the Times Record, Wichita Falls, Texas, that showcases the role of a court reporter as well as the speed and accuracy needed to succeed in the profession. Also on June 17, the newspaper posted an article about the salaries of Nueces County court reporters. On June 18, an editorial piece calling the salary assessment “grossly unfair” was published in the newspaper.

NCRA member recognized for new certification

JCR logoThe Observer-Reporter, Washington, Pa., posted a press release on June 17 announcing that NCRA member Amanda Lundberg, RPR, CRC, recently has earned the nationally recognized Certified Realtime Captioner certification. The press release was issued by NCRA on behalf of Lundberg.

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Former NCRA member Alan Roberts passes away

JCR logoThe Sun-Sentinel reported on June 17 that retired NCRA member Alan Roberts, FAPR, RPR, passed away in Boca Raton, Fla. Roberts was a past president of the New Jersey Court Reporters Association and a former school owner.

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National Court Reporters Foundation Trustees announced

NCRF logoThe NCRA Board of Directors elected the following individuals to the 2017-2018 National Court Reporters Foundation Board of Trustees: Danielle Griffin, RPR, Phoenix, Ariz.; Karen G. Teig, RPR, CRR, CMRS, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and Sandy VanderPol, FAPR, RMR, CRR, Lotus, Calif.

Danielle Griffin represents the future of the profession and can aid NCRF in its continued focus on helping students finish court reporting school and new reporters acquire the opportunities to thrive in the profession. She grew up in the court reporting field, working in her mother’s firm in Phoenix from the time she was in middle school, an experience that gives her more in-depth understanding of the business and profession than the average new reporter. As a new reporter with diverse experience and contacts, Griffin commits fully to everything she does. Griffin comes from a culture of volunteerism and strong fundraising experience and understands the value of networking and using those contacts to help make whatever she’s tasked with successful.

Karen Teig has extensive experience volunteering and serving on boards in both her personal or professional life, and she has had specific training on how to advocate for a philanthropic project. This has given her a thorough understanding of what it takes to be both a worker and a leader. She has served on numerous state and national committees; is a past state and national board member; and is past president of her state association. Teig has a true spirit of giving back and has been a long-time supporter of NCRF, whether promoting NCRF during state rep visits; transcribing histories for the VHP program; helping raise funds through her service on the Angels Drive Committee; or donating to NCRF through the Angels program.

Sandy VanderPol is a committed volunteer who has contributed extensively to the profession by writing articles, giving presentations, and serving on many court reporting association committees and boards. She has strong leadership experience, having been president of both her local and state court reporting associations. VanderPol’s accomplishments are well-known as the recipient of NCRA’s Distinguished Service Award, and she is highly respected within the NCRA membership for her work ethic, ability to think outside the box, and intimate knowledge of and passion for the profession.

The NCRF Trustees will begin their three-year terms on Aug. 12, 2017, at the annual NCRF Board of Trustees meeting that will take place in conjunction with the NCRA Convention & Expo in Las Vegas, Nev. The Nominating Committee thanks all candidates for their dedication to the profession and congratulates the new Trustees.

Former NCRA member Michael David Clepper passes away

JCR logoThe Houston Chronicle reported on June 14 that former NCRA member Mike Clepper of Houston, Texas, passed away on June 2, after a brief battle with cancer. He was a founding member and director of the Texas Deposition Reporters Association and served as president of the Houston Court Reporters Association.

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