The Tampa Bay Times posted an article on Feb. 21 about how court reporter Cindy Braun, RPR, brought closed captioning into her church.
In recognition of Court Reporting & Captioning Week, the Lexington Clipper-Herald ran an article on Feb. 18 showcasing the career of a local official court reporter from Lexington, Ky.
News Talk KGVO.com aired a segment featuring an interview with NCRA member Stephanie Morrow, RPR, an official court reporter from Missoula, Mont. The interview was about her career as a court reporter.
A letter to the editor written by NCRA member Melissa K. Atkinson, RDR, CRR, an official court reporter from Enid, Okla., was posted on Feb. 18 by TulsaWorld.com. The letter expresses her love for her job but her frustration at the lack of pay raises by the state.
Sarah Nageotte, RDR, CRR, CRC, was interviewed about the court reporting profession in an article posted by the Star Beacon, Ashtabula, Ohio, on Feb. 18. Nageotte, a past president of NCRA, is an official court reporter from Jefferson, Ohio.
Good Day Wisconsin on FOX News 11, Green Bay, aired a story on Feb. 16 about court reporting that featured NCRA member Sheri Piontek, RMR, CRR, CRC. Piontek is president of the Wisconsin Court Reporters Association.
On Feb. 18, the Rapid City [S.D.] Journal posted a feature article about the court reporting profession. The article quotes NCRA member Teresa Fink RMR, CRR, an official court reporter from Rapid City, S.D., and president of the South Dakota Court Reporters Association.
The Dothan Eagle, Dothan, Ala., posted a story on Feb. 16 highlighting the vital role court reporters play in the judicial system. The article includes an interview with NCRA member Karen Strickland Planz, an official court reporter for a local circuit judge and president of the Alabama Court Reporters Association.
The JCR reached out to Dee Boenau, RDR, CRR, CRC, a broadcast captioner in Sarasota, Fla., about her Realtime Contest win, the importance of realtime, practice tips, and using the spotlight to promote the profession.
What appealed to you about competing in the speed and realtime contests?
I’ve always competed just as a way to see how my skills have improved. It’s fun and exciting to see how the changes I have made to my theory over the years have increased my speed and accuracy.
Do you have a preference on which one you would prefer to win?
I like to win the Realtime Contest because realtime writing is what I do, and I believe realtime translation is the lifeblood of court reporting and captioning. However, I would not mind adding the prestigious title of Speed Contest Champion to my achievements and having my name added to the historical list of greats in our profession.
How do you find the two contests different?
I write both contests in the mind-set of realtime. There really is no difference to me other than the faster speed and the opportunity for editing in the Speed Contest. Nerves can be devastating, though, in the Realtime Contest. If the nerves creep in during the Speed Contest, I know I have a chance to edit it. I guess I am a little harder on myself just before the Realtime Contest because of nerves.
Have you been practicing for the upcoming contests?
I do practice close to the time of the contests. I simply don’t have the time to practice year-round. I prefer to actively use my skills in the real world and to further enhance my ability to make a living. Whether I am reporting or captioning, I always review my work. I can’t stress enough to captioners the importance of reading one’s work and looking up what one missed. Over the years, too, practice would be boring to me because it was always the same dictation tapes. Now there are new programs on the market, like ev360 Ultimate, that take practicing to a whole different level and make it fun, too. The last couple of years I’ve been practicing more because of the program.
What advice would you have for a person who has never been in a speed contest before? How can they get started?
Just do it. Sign up and jump right in. The contests may humble you and inspire you at the same time. You could be the next Jeffrey Weigl, RMR, CRR, CRC, or Julianne LaBadia, RDR, CRR, CRC.
You’ve received quite a lot of coverage based on your wins in the past few years. What has that been like? Do you have any advice for other reporters or captioners who find themselves in the limelight?
When I found myself in the limelight, I spoke with passion. I love writing on the steno machine; it is my favorite piece of technology. Without the steno machine, I could not do my job as a reporter making a record and as a captioner providing communication accessibility to thousands of people. You can’t go wrong talking about what you love because it all comes so naturally. When I first won the Realtime Contest, I was thrilled with the machine I was using and enjoyed talking about it and the technology behind it. When a person speaks with such passion about his or her profession and the advancing technology, it can only inspire others to inquire about court reporting or captioning.
Is there any advice you can give to other NCRA members on how each of us can be an advocate for our profession?
Be the best you can be. Stand up for what is right. Keep the professional image alive.
Any questions we missed or should have asked?
I want to thank NCRA and the Contests Committee for continuing to support the contests. It is a huge undertaking and a sacrifice of convention time for the committee members. I’ve heard that they are often grading papers when people are returning from late-night festivities. Admittedly, the contests are a large part of the reason why I’ve attended the convention 17 years in a row. Yes, I learn from the seminars, but the contests give the convention the wow factor. Thank you, NCRA, past sponsors, and any future sponsors!
Isaiah Roberts, an official reporter working for the judicial circuit court in Illinois, was asked by his cousin, a director at Oswego East High School in the Chicago suburbs, to come and talk about his job. He invited his friend, Stanley Sakai, CRC, a captioner based in New York City, who was going to be in town, to join him for the presentation. The duo shared their similar skills and different paths with the high school students during their visit, and they garnered a lot of attention from the students, with several staying afterwards to ask questions of the two young men. The JCR asked them to tell us more about their experience.
JCR | How did the presentation go?
IR | When we got there, Stanley and I both set up our Lightspeed writers and laptops so the students could get a closer look at our machines. As I would talk with the students and answer their questions, Stanley would write everything that was being said, thereby showing the students firsthand exactly how realtime writing worked. This was one of the biggest highlights in our presentations, as the students were amazed to see every word they were speaking show up wirelessly on an iPad.
SS | Since Isaiah is a courthouse official and I am a captioner, I thought that, together, we would make a great team in that the students would have exemplars of two contrasting stenographic professionals.
JCR | What was the message you delivered to the students?
IR | We were able to explain the differences between someone who is a court reporter, such as myself, and someone is a CART captioner like Stanley. We were fortunate in this regard to be able to show some of the vastly different career options that were possible by being a stenographer. While some students liked the idea of being in a courtroom every day, some were intrigued by the fact that they could be paid to caption a sports game or that they didn’t have to have an 8-5 schedule.
SS |We made it clear to the students that an investment in a stenographic career is one of great prospects and flexibility. Whether it is the predictable stability of a 9-5 or the fast-paced hustle of the freelance life you desire, you can make this career path fit your needs and schedule.
JCR |Why was it important for you to make this visit?
SS | It is important for us to reach out and spread the word about this career because of the public’s general lack of awareness around the court reporting and captioning fields. As a captioner who works in many different capacities, I can attest that most people have no idea what I mean when I say I produce live captioning for tech conferences or provide CART for students. I frequently get confused looks by onlookers when I explain to them that practically none of what I am doing is automated when I inevitably get my favorite on-the-job question: “What speech/voice recognition software are you using? It’s so good!”
There is widespread misunderstanding regarding the value, long-term viability, and the earning potential of stenographic professions, so it’s imperative that we, especially as younger representatives in an aging field, do all that we can to educate and inspire those who will be soon choosing their career paths.
JCR |What were some of the questions/comments students had for you?
SS |The questions we got ran the gamut from typical salary ranges, to hours worked per week, to working conditions. We were surprised at how genuinely curious the students were at such a young age!
IR | A lot of the questions we received were questions such as, “How much schooling does it take?” or “How are you possibly able to write that fast?” Stanley and I both shared our own personal experiences, expressing that while the learning process is difficult, the career is well worth it.
I brought with me some promotional items and pamphlets from the current court reporting programs offered in Illinois. While many of the students seemed interested, there were multiple students who talked to us afterwards expressing that they think it might be a great career option for them.
JCR |What do you think the students gained from you visit?
SS | I think the greatest benefit the students gained from our visit other than hearing from two different professionals was witnessing the live demo. As Isaiah spoke, I transcribed him in realtime, sending the text to an iPad. We also let the students try out our machines. The “wow factor” of watching Isaiah’s words appear on the screen and the tactile aspect of touching our equipment really helped spark their interest and demonstrate our work in a concrete way.