TRAIN tip: Sign up and test

By Michelle Gudex

My best advice to improve your realtime is to sign up for certification tests and practice as hard as you can to prepare for them. I have a very fast-speaking judge, and up until a few years ago I thought realtime would be impossible at that pace. Then I started to practice for the CRR again. I spent three months preparing. I surprised myself by how much I improved during that time. I would sit down during the lunch hour telling myself to practice for ten minutes, and it would always be 45 minutes by the time I was done. It was just a matter of getting started.

Also, Realtime Coach offers a free trial period every fall and spring normally before testing time, and I was able to qualify for a free month a couple of times, which was great to have all of that new material for my ears to hear and to be able to only focus on the mistakes I was making since it corrects the transcript for you.

Every day, I scan through all of my untranslates to make new entries in my dictionary or see how I need to improve. I have also been constantly trying to shorten my writing. When I create a new brief, I always create briefs for all of the different endings that could be associated with that word so that they are all similar. In addition, I have been using the asterisk to add the -ed ending to many words so that I don’t have to come back for it in a second stroke.

I have offered realtime to my judge twice now, and he has turned me down. However, after seeing it at the judicial conference, he said he might be interested. I am still terrified to provide it given how fast he talks and how he likes everything to be perfect, but I keep making improvements every day to boost my confidence. I know providing realtime is the next necessary step in my career. One thing I did was enter all of the police officers, social workers, probation agents, local attorneys, counselors, common doctors, and anything else I have jotted down over the years into my dictionary. I know that dictionary building will be a constant process.

In the past year and a half, I have obtained my CRR, CBC, and CCP. You can too if you work hard and put the time in! Failure isn’t not passing a test; it is not trying at all! You cannot succeed if you don’t try!

A thread on NCRA’s Realtime TRAIN Facebook page listed all kinds of court reporting groups on Facebook. Becoming part of these groups can really help you with briefs, technology, software, and procedures. Here’s a sample:

  • Advantage Software
  • Anthony D. Frisolone, Case CATalyst Trainer
  • A BRIEF a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
  • The Brief Exchange
  • Captioners – NCRA Facebook group
  • CART Providers – NCRA Facebook group
  • Case CATalyst Reporters and Users
  • Case CATalyst Training by Jill Suttenberg
  • Court Reporter & Scopist Macintosh User Group
  • Court Reporter Technology
  • Court Reporters of Facebook
  • Court Reporting Q & A
  • Deposition Reporters Association
  • Diamante Writer Users Group
  • Encouraging Court Reporting Students
  • Freelance Court Reporters – NCRA Facebook group
  • Guardians of the Record
  • Jim Barker’s Court Reporters Forum
  • Mac and Case CATalyst
  • NCRA’s Realtime TRAIN – NCRA Facebook group
  • Official Reporters – NCRA Facebook group
  • One Word, Two Words, Apostrophe, Hyphen – OH MY!
  • Punctuation for Court Reporters
  • Realtime – Learn and Share
  • Steno Briefs for Court Reporters
  • StenoCAT Users Network
  • Stenovations Digitalcat Lightspeed Users Group
  • Tidbits for Court Reporters
  • Tutor4Computers
  • USCRA, for federal reporters

Michelle M. Gudex, RMR, CRR, CBC, CCP, has been an official in Sheboygan County, Wis., for 10 years. She can be reached at michellegudex@gmail.com.

 

MEMBER PROFILE: Mary Burzynski

Mary Burzynski

Mary Burzynski

Currently resides in: Medford, Wis.

Position: Official court reporter

Member since: 1989

Graduated from: Rasmussen Business College

Theory: Stenograph

Why did you decide to become a court reporter?

After I decided a career in musical theater was too uncertain for me, I searched for something that was interesting, challenging, and rewarding.  That is when I learned about court reporting from a family friend.

What book are you reading right now?

My very favorite book is To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Currently I am reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I have Vivian Spitz’s book, Doctors from Hell, and I look forward to reading it.

What advice or tips would you offer to new reporters? 

My best tip for new reporters is to join their state and national associations and become involved. Membership and participation in a professional association is a fabulous place to find a mentor, to discover the opportunities our career presents, to learn and to benefit from the experience of those who have been reporting for a number of years, and to make lifelong friends. Many of my best friends are friends I have made because I volunteered.

Did you overcome a challenge in your career? Could you tell us about that experience?

When I was appointed as an official, I took over the position of a reporter who was and is one of the best realtime writers I have ever seen. When I stepped into her shoes, I had been doing realtime only for a few years and only for myself. Now I had to provide it for others. Thankfully the judge gave me a few weeks to get my feet wet, but there were no ifs, ands, or buts, I would be sending realtime.

The only way to get over my fear was to work hard and to just jump in and do it, and that is what I did. Realtime is a living and evolving phenomenon.  It is often challenging but also rewarding. Am I perfect now? Oh, no. In my dreams! I keep working at it though, and I am proud of the job I do.

 

Favorite briefs

I wish I could say that I came up with some of my favorite briefs, but many of these I collected from friends. 

Psychotropic medication           STROEPGS

Are you aware                              RAUR

Were you aware                           WRAUR

Is it fair to say                                ST-FRTS

Is that fair to say                           STHAFRTS

Would it be fair to say                 WOFRTS

Termination of parental rights   TERP

Text message                                 T*EM

Text messages                               T*EMS

Text messaged                               T*EMD

Text messaging                              T*EMG

The last page: What the lawyer saw

Abbreviations can be fun

A. It’s more of just a feel issue. I know it sounds unscientific to say that, but that’s kind of what it is.
Q. Is that a SWAG?
A. That’s one way to say it.
Q. I’m sorry, let’s clarify that for the court as well. Scientific wild-ass guess?
A. Those are the ones.
Therese Casterline, RMR, CRR
The Colony, Texas

Hey, Boo-Boo
Q. But if we looked at large groups of people and we looked at a large group of obese people compared to a large group of thin people, probably the thin people are going to be more active on average; right?
A. I would say that.
Q. And so in your study, Doctor, you guys didn’t have information to tell you whether it was the activity level or the obesity itself that was really the driving factor in those obese patients that caused them to experience pulmonary embolisms at a higher rate than the average bear?
Q. We would not separate that out.
ATTORNEY JONES: Did you just say “the average bear”?
ATTORNEY SMITH: I did. By which I hope everybody knows I mean the average human.
ATTORNEY JONES: It’s always good to have a Yogi Bear reference in a deposition. “Hey, Boo-Boo, let’s get a pic-a-nic basket.”
Elizabeth A. Tubbert, RPR
Southfield, Mich.
Ready, set …
MR. SMITH: And try not to talk as fast as he talks. It’s really hard for the court reporter to write down. You talk fast.
THE REPORTER: That’s okay.
MR. JONES: I can put you to the test if you want.
THE REPORTER: Go for it. I’m ready. Let’s go.
MR. JONES: Let’s do it.
Denyce Sanders, RPR, CRR
Houston, Texas
What attorneys see
MS. ATTORNEY: I don’t know if you would like to break for lunch, or what you’d like to do?
MR. ATTORNEY: I’m open for whatever people want to do.
THE WITNESS: I’d rather finish it up.
MS. ATTORNEY: Are you okay, Doreen?
COURT REPORTER: Yes.
MR. ATTORNEY: Doreen’s always okay, she’s like a machine.
(If they only knew how tired I was…)
Doreen Sutton, RPR
Scottsdale, Ariz.
Who’s on first?
A. You have a week, and then the second week is weeks.
Q. But isn’t also the third week weeks?
A. A week plus a week is weeks.
Q. Is a week plus a week plus a week weeks?
A. Maybe to you. A week plus a week is weeks.
Q. So you’re saying for interpretation of the policy language, a week plus a week plus a week does not equal the weeks that’s meant by the policy?
A. I didn’t say that.
Q. So am I wrong that you’re agreeing that a week plus a week plus a week could also be interpreted as the weeks that’s meant by the policy?
A. Absolutely.
Georgeanne “Georgia” Rodriguez, RPR
Orlando, Fla.

Was that a confession?
A. And when we got to the Southfield Freeway, I can’t recall if we had the green light or it was blinking, but he proceeded as he had the green light, the cab driver, on the phone and eating and driving, which I had a problem when I first got in the cab. But anyway, we got to Southfield and Warren, and he proceeded — and the next — the car that was to our left, I seen him coming barreling to my left, the blue car, and we collided. It was just — they both were driving like they had the green light, so I’m not even sure who had the green light, to be honest. But we collided.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: We did.
THE WITNESS: Oh. We collided.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I was bad.
Elsa Jorgensen
Birmingham, Mich.

Red flag
Of course the attorney (from Texas) was talking a mile a minute and interrupting the witness and opposing counsel, but the witness gets the warning:
Q. To supervise him, correct?
A. Uh-huh.
Q. You have to do it out loud —
A. Yes.
Q. — so Jim can —
A. Sorry.
Q. You get three of those, two time-outs, and then Jim pops you. Just reaches over and hits you. Okay?
Maggie Cole on behalf of Jim Scally, RMR, CRR
Cotuit, Mass.

For want of an idiom
A. And so just, I’ve done a lot of research, a lot of soul-searching. And it just, at this point – at some point, Dr. Brown said, you know, I may have to bite the dust.
MR. SMITH: The bullet.
THE WITNESS: The bullet.
MR. SMITH: We’re all going to bite the dust.
Karen L. Wright, RPR, CRR, CCP
Burlington, Vt.

Watch your words

Q. Your Honor, my name is John Doe. I’m an attorney licensed in the state of Texas, having been licensed since 1978, I believe, which I know is hard for you to believe considering how youthful I look.
THE COURT: Remember, you’re under oath.
Q. (BY MR. DOE) Since I’m under oath, I’ll retract that last comment.
Renee Rape, RPR
Angleton, Texas

Courtroom hearing: From depositions to courtroom CART

By Jason Meadors

The call

Through Denise Phipps and her company, Captions Unlimited, I received an assignment to provide realtime display, or CART services, to Judge Charles Ray in Bethel, Alaska. Judge Ray is the only judge in the United States to preside over a court of general jurisdiction who is completely deaf. It turns out that he’s a very nice, amiable, smart, and caring man whose speaking voice betrays no hint of his lack of hearing. He’s late- and sudden-deafened, having been stricken with a virus that inexplicably and arbitrarily took away hearing from one ear overnight, then the other several years later.

There are people who are comfortable with CART, and I admire them, because I’m not one of them. Nevertheless, the need was obviously there, and I resolved to do my best. Denise had me start out by working with her in supplying CART for Judge Ray at the Alaska judges’ convention in Girdwood, a resort outside Anchorage. Job requirements aside, it was entirely gratifying to see the judge interacting socially, laughing at the jokes and contributing to them, and joining in animated discussion at the seminars. Our services greatly aided the judge in participating in the event.

And lest you think this is my bragfest about my theoretical mad CART skills: No. A team of CART reporters has been providing these services for the past two years and have been doing it very well and satisfactorily for the state judicial department. I am very much the tag-along guy at the tail end of this team of otherwise outstanding CART providers.

The first stop

I had never been to Alaska, other than as a quick stop at night on the way overseas. Denise met me at the airport, and we were ferried to the convention by the CFO of Alaska’s judicial department, who spoke enthusiastically of how to help Judge Ray. She didn’t focus on budget; she spoke of results, which I found rather refreshing from a public official.

It is a most impressive drive to Girdwood, the resort where the convention was held. The rocky shore and the flat areas that rise up dramatically to towering snowcapped ranges are beautiful and inspiring. Then getting up the next morning, I noticed after the normal morning routine that it seemed to be unusually dark in the room, even though it was 8 a.m. I thought that maybe it was a cloudy day. I opened the curtains, and it was still pitch black outside in the autumn morning. Now I saw some real charm and differences of life up north.

The CART part was the simplest of setups. Denise or I sat next to Judge Ray, set up our realtime on our laptop, and wrote. The judge read it off the CAT screen, whether we were in a classroom or social environment. The CART we provided helped him to interact in conversations, participate in jokes, and ask questions and engage in questions with seminar presenters and attendees.

After the convention (and with me feeling tentatively more hopeful about my ability to provide the quality of CART that was needed), the judge and his wife drove us out to the airport, Denise to return to the lower 48, and me to get to Bethel.

If all roads lead to Rome, then no roads lead to Bethel. Unless you hike or dogsled or use a snowmachine (they are not called snowmobiles there), you come to town either through air or over water. Big planes fly in and out of this town of 6,500 several times daily, and you wonder how such a small community can support this level of air traffic, until you realize that 1) it’s the only way for a lot of them to get in and out, and 2) the planes are half-walled off for cargo hauls in the other half. If 18-wheelers can’t make it, what else are you going to do? But it does make transporting goods expensive.

The assignment

Within the judicial setting, Judge Ray’s loss of hearing means he relies on the CART provider’s feed to know what is being spoken in the courtroom around him. This makes for an interesting challenge for a judicial reporter who takes the occasional CART assignment. (That “judicial reporter,” in this case, was me.)

It is important to note that as the CART provider in Judge Ray’s courtroom, I wasn’t taking down speech for a record. In fact, because Alaska is a state that uses electronic recording, the reporter isn’t making an official record at all. My role was to be the judge’s virtual ears. I did not need to report what the judge himself is saying, because he knows that already, and the others in the courtroom can hear him clearly. But what everyone else says, and whether they’re yelling or whispering, or intrusive noises are present that have a bearing on people’s actions, and just generally anything in the environment that would ordinarily draw the attention of a person, all needed to be faithfully written by the CART provider.

This presents with an interesting array of potential options that I don’t usually see in deposition reporting. In fact, much of it, I would never use at all:

(laughing)

(crying)

(nodding)

PHONE [female]: (or [male])

(static on phone)

(multiple speakers)

And so on, as just a small part of what the CART provider may write.

To further help in this task, display screens are at all counsel tables. If I write something down differently than counsel thought they heard or said, they’re looking at the screen and will call out a correction.

This is a much different atmosphere than what I’m used to in providing realtime. In a realtime deposition setting, we have the big disclaimer that counsel are getting a rough draft, and when some counsel is looking at a screen and calling out corrections, it’s just flat annoying. The reporter’s usual (and hopefully internal) reaction is, “What about rough draft do you not understand?”

In this setting, though, the CART provider is relying on counsel voicing those corrections. The idea is not to turn out a polished transcript later. The idea is to give the judge an accurate rendition right now of what’s going on in the environment.

Here’s how the courtroom looks from the attorneys’ side of the screen:

If you look closely, you may note that no line numbers and no standard transcript formatting show up on the display. Again, the CART provider is not producing a transcript but a rendition of the events happening in real time. The attorney’s screens are not interactive; they do not have a keyboard or a mouse; the displays are view-only. There’s nothing to copy, paste, annotate, or mark for future reference. It’s not a court transcript that’s on the screen. It is strictly a display so the attorneys can see the same thing that the judge is seeing and call out for a correction as the need may arise.

I’ve thought that the attorneys have a certain advantage in this unique courtroom setup. How many other places can they constantly review the words coming out of their mouths and have their corrections welcomed?

The whole idea of this arrangement is to make things smooth and comprehensible for the judge in a realtime fashion.

From the judge’s perspective, the screen on the bench in the lower right is a realtime display that the judge can look at when facing the jury or the witness stand to his right. To the left of that display is his own court station.

On the other hand – literally — when addressing people at counsel table, the judge is looking at the big screen on the left at the CART provider’s desk in front of the bench. The display font is big enough for him to read from the bench while keeping his view more in line with whoever is speaking from the tables.

The other two screens that you see at the CART provider’s desk were specific to me at the time of taking the picture. One is the laptop with my CAT and from which the realtime is being transmitted, and the other laptop is for more administrative things, such as consulting the docket, looking at local or frequent terms, checking my email, and the like.

At that big screen at our table, in the lower right-hand corner, you might notice a mirror. You might also notice a string of lights underneath the sill of the bench. Whether you notice them or not, they are all there. These constitute a handy mechanism for the reporter to alert the judge, so that if the judge is not looking at the screen when we’re displaying something that he should know about, or if a speaker wants the floor when the judge isn’t looking, we have a foot pedal to tap that activates the lights and prompts the judge to look at the realtime display.

A fairly typical scenario for this device would be that Judge Ray is looking down at his papers, starting to talk, and an attorney will hold up a hand or start, “Your Honor…” That’s when we hit the foot pedal, activate the lights on the bench that alert the judge, and he looks at the display and says something to the effect, “Oh, excuse me. Did you want to say something?” When it runs seamlessly, which of course we try for each time, it’s a great feeling for us to be providing that level of service. It does make for another responsibility of the CART provider in this courtroom that is a departure from my deposition work, which now is looking easy by comparison.

I must mention, too, that this would not have been possible without the enthusiastic support of the Alaska judicial authorities. They are the ones providing the screens, setting up the foot pedal and lights arrangement, making the necessary accommodations, and working with Denise to bring the CART providers to Bethel. Their support enables this to happen as well as it does.

Nor can the participation of Judge Ray be overlooked. If I were in Judge Ray’s position, I would not accept it with his grace, good nature, and positive contributions does. He’s an intelligent, humorous, and good-hearted man and an able attorney in his own right.

The Personal Reward

Whether we have our steno machine in court, at depositions, at hearings, at conventions, providing CART, or writing captions, we have an undeniably tough job, a job that demands multiple decision points every second, a job that is physically and mentally taxing, and let’s face it, a job that not very many people can do. And often the intangible rewards of that job, especially in the courtroom/deposition environments, are often delayed or even not apparent at all.

But providing CART for Judge Ray, although a tough assignment in its own right, is instant gratification when things are clicking along, and you try to make them click the whole time. The simple fact that the judge is hearing cases, exchanging conversation with counsel, and advising parties while sounding and acting like any other courtroom anywhere is simply magic. It’s like we’re the one behind the curtain providing the magic, except there is no curtain. It’s an assignment that fully integrates the trained reporter or CART provider into this realtime setting in a wholly responsive and rewarding way.

My gratitude for this most interesting and rewarding assignment goes to Phipps who gave me the opportunity, the reporters (Anne Bowline and Karen Yates) who were kind and deluded enough to recommend me, and the State of Alaska judiciary, including Judge Ray himself, for the resources and determination to make this happen in such a successful fashion.

Are you a strong, clean, fast CART provider or court reporter looking for an out-of-the-way Alaskan adventure? Can you work well with others on both the judicial and CART teams? Well, you just may want to give Denise at Captions Unlimited a call.

 

Working in Bethel, Alaska

Please understand that my observations of Bethel came from a mere week of staying there.

Bethel is a town, population about 6,500, sitting next to the Kuskokwim River in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. Although there are roads within the community, no roads connect the town anywhere else. The only access is by river or air, and since the river is inaccessible due to ice for a good portion of the year, that pretty well leaves air travel for transporting people and goods.

This results in a fairly high price environment. One example: A gallon of generic milk costs $7.50 in the main (and very nice) grocery and general store, Alaska Commercial Company, which locals generally refer to as “the AC.”

The price environment contrasts somewhat, at least to the casual observer (me), with the employment base. I didn’t see much of any. I was told that the big employer was the local hospital. There are various stores, shops, government institutions, and small businesses, of course (especially cabs; we’ll talk about the cabs). But major employers seem to be absent.

Bethel is not what a lot of people would call an attractive town, but it is what the environment demands it to be and what the hardy residents have built to adapt. There is one paved road through a part of the town. The rest are dirt and gravel. The water/sewer infrastructure is all in above-ground pipes so they don’t freeze in the shallow permafrost. The structures are generally on adjustable stilts, due to the constant shifting of the delta ground with freeze/thaw and differing levels of saturation, not to mention keeping them dry when water levels rise. The heaving of the ground requires residents to relevel their houses from time to time.

So without roads to the outside, people get their cars ferried in by boat, weather permitting. (And it’s an entertaining cultural phenomenon to walk through a parking lot and see the majority of cars still running and unattended.) This and extremely high fuel prices make for a thriving taxicab industry. Bethel has more cabs per capita than any other city in the U.S. You make a call, and within a minute, the cab is there.

The CART providers’ apartment is perhaps a third of a mile from the courthouse. So an easy walk, right? Not so fast. I did walk all but one day, but when you come outside and the world is covered with ice and you can’t take a step on the slightest slope without hazarding a hematoma on your posterior, the cell phone comes out and you call the cab. Not to mention that the walk to work is in the dark six months out of the year.

I enjoyed Bethel. It’s certainly not your spot for thriving night life, but the people are hardy and good-hearted, I felt safe and respected the entire stay, and if you like to explore the culture and environment of an entirely new place, while having quiet time to do things like write a JCR article, it’s great. I’m currently scheduled for a return trip and am quite looking forward to it – even though the trip is scheduled in the dead of winter.

Jason Meadors, RPR, CRR, is a freelancer and firm owner in Fort Collins, Colo. He can be reached at jason@reporterworks.com.

 

 

Why it is essential to realtime for yourself

By Keith Lemons

The debate about realtime being the future of our profession is past. It is the now of our profession. Whether one actually supplies realtime to attorneys, lawyers, CART clients, and judges isn’t the issue on the table; it’s whether realtime makes us better reporters. Here’s why:

  1. Realtime gives you instant feedback. You know you’re getting it.
  2. By learning how to define from the steno keyboard, you learn to brief on the fly.
  3. Realtime is like playing a full-time game of Words with Friends – only it’s you and your ego.
  4. It makes you a better writer.
  5. It’s a challenge to continue to improve.
  6. Becoming a better writer decreases editing time.
  7. Decreased editing time makes you more proficient.
  8. More proficient reporters increase production.
  9. Increased production leads to more requests from clients.
  10. And it all adds up to more income, which translates into instant feedback.

Keith Lemons, RPR, CRR, is a freelance court reporter in Brentwood, Tenn., and a JCR Contributing Editor. He can be reached at k.lemons@comcast.net.

Can providing realtime increase your revenue?

By David Ward

You can certainly still make a good and interesting living as a court reporter with basic professional reporter certification and skills. But increasingly reporters who have added additional certification say the time and effort putting into getting them is well worth it for their career.

This is especially true of reporters who have obtained the NCRA’s Certified Realtime Reporter certification, which means achieving 96 percent accuracy in a two-voice question-and-answer skills test at 200 words per minute.

For some reporters, being able to say they are CRRs helps them better market themselves in what in some areas remains a very competitive business. Others cite the desire to be everything they can be in the careers as the primary reason they went for realtime certification.

But for the vast majority of those with CRR certification, the primary benefits of being a realtime reporter are financial.

The primary benefit

“It really does boost my income,” says Sue Terry, RPR, CRR, of Springfield, Ohio, and a member of NCRA’s Board of Directors. “I do a lot of travel for my job but can’t really justify that expense unless they are premium jobs — and all premium work is realtime hookup, daily draft, or expedited copy.”

Sandy Bunch Vanderpol, RMR, CRR, who works in the Sacramento, Calif., agrees: “I’m already writing realtime to my computer, and with a little more skill and some new equipment, I can boost my income by 25 percent, if not more.”

It’s hard to find any part of the country — or the globe — where realtime is not a significant income generator. Micheal Johnson, RMR, CRR, of Cedar Park, Texas, travels not just across the United States but around the world doing depositions. “Realtime jobs mean you get paid more per page and that’s where every reporter wants to be. And when you write better, it cuts down on editing, which means you can take on more jobs,” says Johnson.

Most attorneys are generally familiar with realtime by now, but that doesn’t mean they all understand why it’s beneficial to their work and, more importantly, why it’s worth the extra money.

That’s where new technology is making a difference, especially the growing use of tablets like the Apple iPad in depositions and arbitrations. “There is just such a cool factor in throwing out an iPad at a deposition and offering realtime — that gets them 90 percent of the time,” says Johnson.

Education of clients is key

The vast majority of the jobs she does are already booked as realtime, says Lisa Knight, RPR, RMR, CRR, of Littleton, Colo. But she stresses that even the few that start off as traditional reporting jobs can be turned in to realtime work with the right approach — and a few iPads.

“I went to a case in Denver where initially the attorneys didn’t want realtime, but I let them have the iPad for the first hour and a half for free just to look at,” she says. “This was a two-week arbitration and by the end of the second day, one attorney was like ‘I’ve got to have that iPad back,’ — because the judge was using it and he knew the judge was reviewing testimony on his own iPad. And because one counsel wanted it, the other decided they had to have it, too, which was great because I ended up making twice as much money on that job. It wasn’t booked as a realtime job, but by giving them a teaser I was able to upsell both sides.”

Some of this marketing and attorney education work can and should be done by firms that end up booking the job for the reporter. But Terry says reporters need to take on more of that realtime sales job themselves.

“When I do seminars for reporters, I always advise them that they are the ones who are out there on the firing line with the attorney and can do a better job than the firm in trying to sell this as an additional service to a paralegal over the phone,” Terry says.

Terry adds it’s not enough just to give an attorney an iPad. “I have a small card printed out that has basic commands on it,” she says. “The command card ends up silently educating the attorney and judges — many of whom had been getting realtime for years but who had no idea you could do all that with it.”

Knight notes that you can easily get a license from your reporting software vendor to allow the output of realtime to several iPads — suggesting that small once-a-year fee can mean a lot more money to your business. “Every time you hand someone an iPad, it’s ‘Ka-ching,’ ‘Ka-ching,’ ‘Ka-ching,’” she says.

Rough drafts can help too

Even if the attorneys opt out of iPads and realtime hookups, CRR reporters can still generate additional income by providing draft transcripts at the end of day’s deposition work.

“Draft transcripts is a huge deal in this part of the country because a lot of lawyers are technology phobic and consequently are not interested in realtime hookups,” says freelance reporter Ed Varallo, RMR, CRR, of Worchester, Mass.

Varallo notes he’s been offering realtime hookups for 15 years but says demand for the service has changed little during that time. “The reason is the lawyers who like it, like it, and they’ll keep ordering it,” he says. “And the lawyers who think it’s a distraction say exactly that.”

For realtime reporters, often it’s the type of case that dictates whether they will get their additional fees from a realtime hookup via iPad or a draft transcript at the end of the day’s testimony — or both.

“The people who use the realtime hookups tend to be doing more technical cases,” Varallo says. “They may have an expert testifying on something who may be giving a fairly long answer and they want to see exactly what he or she said.”

That’s different from more routine litigation such as personal injury, employee disputes, age discrimination, construction contract issues and other cases where the testimony is likely not that technical.

“In those situations the attorneys are more confident, so to speak,” Varallo explains. “They’re comfortable with the topic but at the end of it, there’s been a lot of pages of testimony and they want to know how things were said — but they don’t want to have to study it as it’s going on.”

Varallo offers a seminar for court reporters, “Creating demand for draft transcripts,” that stresses that many lawyers don’t know what a good a draft transcript is until the reporter shows them.

“You have to give them a loss leader and send it the first time,” he says, adding that in many ways generating interest for daily draft transcripts today is much like the work reporters did decades ago to build up demand for mini-transcripts.

“That was before email and what we did was go print mini-transcript out and say, ‘I can print this out on four sides and the font is great’ and the lawyers loved it,” Varallo explains. “But they didn’t come to us; we got the product and went to them, creating the demand.”

Because of the increased income potential, Johnson says he pushes rough draft sales at almost every job. “For me, there has been an increase of rough drafts in the past five years,” he says. “Again, it’s one of those things that doesn’t take a lot of my time because I try to write each job the best I can and as clean as I go — and I use my break times efficiently and do minor edits/globals.”

Realtime saves the reporter time too

Because his writing is so accurate, Johnson is able to sell the fact that he can get the draft to the attorneys quickly. “Many times when asked how long it will take to get the rough out, my response has been, ‘Before you make it out of the parking garage,’ or ‘Before you get to the airport,’” he says.

Knight adds it also helps to explain how draft transcripts can end up being overall money-savers for the legal team. “I tell them it’s only $200 more, and it can help your expert prepare for the next day’s testimony,” she says. “I actually point out that I’m saving them money in their billing time by getting them the rough draft.”

That message seems to resonate even in this fiscally tight legal environment. For instance, VanderPol noted a definite increase in realtime drafts in recent years. “Not all cases or attorneys are using realtime hookups, but most are definitely ordering the rough or first draft emailed to them after the deposition,” she says,

While the primary benefit is financial, VanderPol and others note that realtime depositions can also be a major time-saver. “I may be working harder during the deposition, but it is well worth it,” Vanderpol explains. “I’d rather have the witness available to ask for spellings while reporting realtime than try to do a search for the current spelling when editing the transcript later.”

“I probably spend less time editing and preparing the final so I actually spend less time on the job because I write realtime,” says Knight.

But on a few occasions, the perfectionist nature of the realtime reporter that can get in the way of additional income.

Some CRR certified reporters take such pride their work that they are loathe to let an attorney see any mistake just sitting on an iPad screen, figuring it may be 45 minutes or longer before they can clean it up.

But Terry points out most modern reporting software make it far easier to clean up those small mistakes and get errors out of the realtime feed during even a shortest of lulls in testimony.

“StenoCAT, for example, allows you to split the screen so you can edit on one part of the screen while keeping your place on the other part of the screen,” Terry explains. “When you learn to do that, your drafts are basically done at the end of the day.”

Realtime in non-legal situations

For those who still need additional convincing that a CRR certification can boost their reporting careers in many different ways, there’s also an interesting trend in the United States and elsewhere where realtime is increasingly being used in non-legal situations such as broadcast captioning or providing live text feeds at conventions, financial conferences, or press events.

“In my opinion, there’s more of a demand for realtime skills in non-legal settings than ever before,” notes Allison Kimmel, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP, of Columbus, Ohio, and past president of the Ohio Court Reporters Association. “It is not necessarily tied to transcription or pages. It is more the availability of instantaneous readable text and your ability to provide it.”

Kimmel currently works as a captioner in Ohio and is an employee rather than a freelancer. But she stresses that anyone on the legal side of the business with realtime skills should be able to drum up interest for her services in non-legal situations by soliciting companies and events in their area.

“I think that having the CRR certification opens doors for a court reporter interested in branching out into captioning and CART,” she adds. “I don’t feel it is necessarily a requirement, but it certainly doesn’t hurt you to have that certification under your belt. My best advice is if you’re interested in getting away from legal work is take a seminar on CART and captioning to fine-tune your skill set.”

Though she primarily does depositions and other legal proceedings, Terry has also on occasion worked at conventions, providing, for example, realtime text for the hearing impaired during the keynote speech.

“My feeling, is the reason we don’t see it a lot in other settings is because no one is promoting it that effectively yet,” she says.

Whether it’s CART and captioning, providing live transcripts of conference calls or conventions or doing traditional deposition and arbitration work, realtime is already boosting the income of CRR certified reporters — and has the potential to be even more lucrative once those with the skill learn to market it more aggressively and effectively.

“They will turn you down, but it always helps to ask,” says Knight. “I work as an independent contractor for many firms, but for me it’s about keeping focused the business side of things and realtime makes a big difference them.”

David Ward is a freelance journalist in Ramona, Calif.

 

A steady hand, a world of opportunities

Even if you have been a member of NCRA for a long time, it is possible that our paths may not have crossed. My name is Wendel Stewart, and I have been serving as NCRA’s senior director of finance and administration for a total of seven years. For the most part, my role with NCRA takes place behind the scenes, making sure the proverbial trains are leaving the station on time when it comes to the association’s finance and administrative functions. It is not the most glamorous job, not the kind of work you read about in the pages of the JCR on a regular basis — but it is essential in order for the association to run in an efficient, transparent, and compliant manner. On some levels, it reminds me of the work performed by stenographic reporters, somewhat inconspicuous but a vital part of the judicial system.

Recently, your Board of Directors appointed me to serve as Interim CEO and Executive Director while it engages in a thorough search process to replace Jim Cudahy, NCRA’s former CEO and executive director, who departed in late February to serve as an executive director with another association. I am humbled by the board’s vote of confidence in me to temporarily take the reins through this critical time of transition for NCRA.

I would like to assure you that I am fully engaged in and committed to helping NCRA in whatever capacity necessary. While we await the appointment of our permanent CEO and executive director, the NCRA staff is diligently  working on the deliverables of our five-year strategic plan, dubbed Vision 2018. We are doing everything possible to stay on  course when it comes to education, professional development, advocacy, outreach, and member services. We are working without disruption on supporting the future of the profession, which includes a wide range of initiatives. From the Take Note student recruitment and public awareness campaign to online testing, from revamping our live events to making significant progress on Capitol Hill on the issues that matter the most to our membership, NCRA is maintaining its laser-like focus on serving the needs of the court reporting, captioning, and legal videography professions.

Nowhere was this “business as usual” focus more apparent than during the 2015 Court Reporting & Captioning Week. Designed to create an annual buzz around the court reporting and captioning professions, this year’s awareness week, hosted in mid-February, was our most successful venture yet. We received legislative recognition commemorating the week, including at the national level, and media outlets across the country joined us in celebrating the role stenographers play in society. We hosted publicity events to highlight our Take Note student recruitment campaign (crTakeNote.com) and state leaders, school administrators, and professionals across the country took the time to celebrate what makes the court reporting and captioning realm so great. This type of engagement is not only needed during Court Reporting & Captioning Week, but throughout the year. My hope is that we could bottle this positive energy and draw on it all year long.

By the time we recognize Court Reporting & Captioning Week in 2016, we will have a long list of things to celebrate. I can assure you that our permanent executive director, whenever he or she begins his or her tenure with NCRA, will inherit a dedicated staff and a membership marked with loyal and passionate volunteers and elected officials. While we have our fair share of challenges ahead, we also have a foundation of solid fundamentals upon which future growth can be cultivated. During this period of transition, I commit to you a steady hand to ensure that the foundation is, indeed, strong and primed for the change and improvements our new executive director will surely bring. NCRA is not unique in its need to examine how the market is impacting the profession. As with all associations, we must adjust accordingly and prepare itself for the future. Now is the time!

During the month of March, the search committee and NCRA Board of Directors conducted a series of interviews of candidates for the new CEO and executive director. The vision they have for our next leader is clearly defined and will assist them in accomplishing the association’s goals and objectives.  In short, I will be returning to my behind-the-scenes duties in the finance and administration realm. I appreciate the opportunity to have served as a steady hand as we prepare for what is sure to be a world of opportunities.

Wendel Stewart, CAE, is serving as interim CEO and executive director of NCRA in addition to fulfilling his roles as senior director, finance and administration. He can be reached at wstewart@ncra.org.

Turning the tide to support the reporters of the future

As your president, I receive hundreds of emails every week and many of them are positive and optimistic. But not long ago, I received an email that left me staring at my ceiling well into the night. The email highlighted the story of a recent court reporting graduate who works at a small firm with four or five other reporters. While the new reporter is grateful for the amount of work coming her way, she notes that it’s not without cost to her psyche – the scheduling administrator doesn’t really understand the profession, and the owner is dog-tired and is making a beeline toward retirement. At the holiday party, colleagues questioned the new reporter’s choice in entering the profession, indicating that digital recording is going to replace steno reporters. Not to be deterred, the new reporter is working to pass the last leg of her RPR and she’s starting to look for an officialship. She’s still in love with the profession, but she asks, “Where should I turn to look for employment with people who aren’t so negative about the profession?”

In many of the seminars that I have given around the country, I have said that we are our own worst enemies. Whether it be the nitpicking, the negativity, the apathy, we are the root of so many of our own problems. Plenty of Facebook comments, emails, and cocktail party conversations can still make me cringe, but I, like that new reporter, will not be deterred. I know we can be better. More supportive of each other. More positive in public. And while we cannot go back and change the thinking of those who are set in their ways, I have noticed in the last couple of years a positive swing in the overall morale of the profession. I think the naysayers are slowly being overshadowed by those who love our profession and see all the good it brings to the environments in which we work and to those to whom we provide service.

Did you know that NCRA has garnered more positive press and publicity for the profession in the last six months than it has in the previous six decades combined? Did you know that hundreds of leads are flowing into NCRA-certified court reporting programs, where previously a few dozen trickled in? Did you know that young teenagers are not only aware of court reporting as a profession, but are starting to think of it as cool?

As you probably know, NCRA commissioned an independent firm of analysts in 2013 to study the five-year outlook for our profession. The results that came back were somewhat scary, but also incredibly positive from a messaging standpoint. We have jobs. A lot of them. We’re not a dying profession. Stenographic court reporting isn’t going away. And we’re going to need new professionals – as many as 5,500 more than what current projections are saying will enter the marketplace – in five short years. Oh, wait, make that four.

NCRA is promoting the profession, targeting school counselors, parents, and most importantly, potential students. The messages are working. They are interested. And the perception is shifting.

Equally important to getting students to come into the career is supporting them once they begin their professional journey as working reporters. We cannot let the past rain on the future’s parade. As I said, there’s a lot to be positive about at NCRA and in the court reporting and captioning profession. I know we have had our fair share of challenges throughout the years, but now is not the time to allow our new reporters – the future of our profession – to be discouraged. Their future is bright, and it’s our job to promulgate that message among those who will carry the torch long after we’re gone. And more importantly, it’s our job to mold our future and teach them the longstanding history that we know so well.

As an established reporter, what are you doing to encourage a positive outlook among students and new reporters? Are they hopeful about the direction of the profession? Do they have a support network to carry them forward? We should hold our professionalism standards very high. It’s time to stop complaining about clients on public pages on Facebook. It’s time to put on a brave face for the students and new reporters and acknowledge the greatness there is from within. Perhaps the power of our positivity will, indeed, overshadow the negativity that still exists in the profession.

I can feel the tide turning. Can you?

[Excerpts of this column have been taken from President Nageotte’s address at the NCRA Firm Owners Executive Conference held in February.]

 

Reporting: Why you should embrace realtime technology

By Tawny Labrum

Technology. It surrounds us. It empowers us. It makes us more efficient. Think about it: What’s one of the first things you do in the morning? If you are anything like me, or millions of others, you pull out your phone; not just any phone though, you pull out your smartphone. Without ever getting out of bed, I am able to instantly communicate with coworkers, correspond with clients, book appointments, and even read the news. In this day and age, not only has technology forever changed our personal lives, it has made its way into our professional lives as well. The legal industry is no exception to this, and as a court reporter, providing services to this industry, embracing technology, realtime technology specifically, is crucial to the outlook and progression of your career.

It’s no secret that, as a whole, the legal industry is slow to latch on and accept change, but as more and more baby boomers reach retirement age, a new generation of lawyers and litigation professionals, a generation born with smartphones and tablets in hand, are entering the workforce. This generation, the Millennials, are accustomed to using technology to get instant results, and because of this, are demanding that service providers, such as court reporters, offer solutions that will allow them to do so.

Over the past few years, the court reporting industry has grown tremendously, and recent reports show that trend continuing upward for many, many years to come. As with lawyers and litigation professionals, many court reporters are reaching retirement age and will be replaced with a workforce accustomed to innovation, a workforce not afraid to use technology to broaden their careers or outperform their peers. So what does this mean for you? This means it’s time to step outside your comfort zone and embrace realtime technology or else face the possibility of being phased out by those who will.

Today’s lawyers want flexibility, whether it be the option to attend depositions and courtroom proceedings remotely or to walk into a war room with their laptops, smartphones, or tablets and instantly connect to a realtime transcript. As a court reporter, it is your job to offer that flexibility and have the tools and know-how to make it possible.All Posts

For some, taking the leap to realtime technology is daunting; for others, finding the time to learn and implement a new technology seems impossible, but it’s not. Within the past five years, many new cost-efficient solutions have hit the market, making that step easier than ever. From Web-based, remote realtime text and video streaming products to universal, local, on-site, wireless realtime delivery, the opportunities are out there.

If you are unsure of where to start, don’t be afraid to ask. Many realtime court reporting groups on Facebook and LinkedIn often discuss technology and can point you in the right direction. I have found that although court reporting can be a cutthroat profession, court reporters are some of the most giving, open professionals around, and they are more than willing to help out.

Times are changing. Technology has opened the doors to a whole new world of opportunity and has become a fixture within the legal industry. More and more litigation professionals are demanding reporting services that use the most cutting-edge technology when it comes to realtime. Knowing what’s out there, embracing it, and taking action to further your skills is imperative in this competitive industry, as well as to better your career.

Tawny Labrum is the marketing director for LiveDeposition, a provider of universal onsite and Web-based remote realtime delivery solutions. More information on LiveDeposition is available at livedeposition.com.

2015 Court Reporting & Captioning Week celebrated across the nation

NCRA members, state associations, and court reporting schools across the nation stepped up their game to support the third National Court Reporting & Captioning Week sponsored by NCRA. The week-long event, celebrated Feb. 15-21, was successful in generating more official proclamations by state lawmakers, a greater number of high-value media hits, and involvement by more supporters than ever before, placing the brightest spotlight to date on the court reporting and captioning profession.

This year, participants were armed with a wide array of resources tailored to help support the event including press releases, social media posts, logos, and more, as well as resources made available through NCRA’s Take Note campaign, which launched in September 2014. A key addition to the arsenal of resources was a 30-second video funded by the National Court Reporters Foundation. The video was made available on NCRA’s Court Reporting & Captioning Week resource page and the crTakeNote.com website.

Two versions of the trendy and edgy animated video were made available: a generic version and a second version that allowed users to customize the last frame by inserting their name and location. The video was shared with hundreds of potential new court reporting students throughout the nation during the week and both versions are still available at the sites for downloading.

Kicking off the national event was an official proclamation read by U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta of New Hampshire on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. Rep. Guinta noted in his remarks that his own parents were court reporters and thanked the many court reporters in his home state, as well as across the nation, for the vital role they play daily in recording history. Citing the scribes who were involved in the continental Congress and the drafting of the nation’s Declaration of Independence, capturing the record has been a pillar of America’s Democracy, he said.

This year’s event also generated the most official proclamations ever at both the state and local levels. Proclamations recognizing the 2015 National Court Reporting & Captioning week were declared in 15 states including: Alabama, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Proclamations at the local level included those in Los Angeles County, Calif., and in Beaverton, Eugene, and Portland, Ore.

“Court Reporting & Captioning Week just keeps expanding and building on itself,” said NCRA President Sarah E. Nageotte, RDR, CRR, CBC, an official court reporter from Jefferson, Ohio.

“It’s fabulous to see all the social media posts and to see the reports and emails of states, cities, and even individual courts all over the country recognizing the week.  It was a week that we touted the hard work and determination that goes into the profession and we took credit for our personal efforts that we give 100 percent each and every day.  I’m proud that what was started as a simple, passing idea just three years ago has grown into success on every level to showcase the court reporting and captioning profession.”

Activities marking this year’s celebration also ranged from open houses to demonstrations, as well as presentations, participation in contests and interviews to benefit the Veterans History Project. The following is a glimpse of how 2015 National Court Reporting & Captioning Week was celebrated across the nation.

NCRA MEMBERS

NCRA members celebrated their profession in a number of ways including by helping their colleagues expand their skills through TRAIN training sessions. In Arizona, Pam Mayer, RMR, CRR, a court reporter with Griffin & Associates in Scottsdale, Ariz., lead a TRAIN session, while in New York, Debra Levinsion, RMR, CRR, CMRS, owner of DALCO Reporting in New York City, also lead two TRAIN sessions in honor of the week.

“We scheduled two TRAIN sessions hoping to reach as many reporters as possible while keeping it to small groups. We filled to capacity very quickly and had many wait-listed, so we actually planned a third for the near future,” Levinson said.

NCRA member Sheri Piontek, RPR, CRR, a court reporter from Green Bay, Wis., celebrated the week by speaking to first-year court reporting students at the Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland, Wis. Piontek, a 34-year veteran of the profession is an official reporter at a the Brown County Courthouse and Eighth District, shared with the students her experiences working in the profession and distributed several pamphlets that detailed job requirements and opportunities in the field.

“I believe that court reporting and captioning is a profession worthy of national recognition and I was proud to take part in this national initiative,” Piontek said.

Jana B. Colter, RMR, CRR, CPP, CBC, a CART provider from Louisville, Ky., and co-chair of NCRA’s Broadcast and CART Captioning Committee worked with fellow captioners to issue a press release highlighting the many benefits CART and captioning provide to those who are deaf or hard of hearing. The press release quoted both Colter and Colin Cantile, a retired businessman from Calgary, Canada, who is hard of hearing. Cantile, who serves as a member of the CART and Captioning Committee, said the service “reawakened me to daily living opportunities by allowing me full participation in the community through the technology of text communication.”

A group of official court reporters from Polk County, Iowa, employed the Legal Ed Program supported by NCRF to present the important role court reporters play in the legal system. Attendees included members of the court, attorneys, and other individuals who work in the legal arena.

Finally, NCRA President Nageotte helped court reporters in Hawaii kick off the week with a presentation about NCRA’s Take Note campaign at the state association’s annual convention.

STATE COURT REPORTING ASSOCIATIONS

Like so many other state court reporting associations, the Arizona Court Reporters Association celebrated the week by sending mail blasts to its members and social media postings throughout the week about activities happening within the state.  In addition, the association invited members, court reporting students and potential court reporting students to a happy hour at a local venue for an evening of networking.

The Ohio Court Reporters Association supported its members by providing an array of resources to members who exhibited at a variety of business-related events including the Business Professionals of America Ohio annual event.

The Iowa Court Reporters Association created a career day outline on its student recruitment Web page for members to use when presenting to local schools. Resources include a court reporting program brochure from Des Moines Area Community College, a hand-out of a keyboard layout, a sample career day presentation, and a hand-out of court reporting facts.

In New York, members of the New York State Court Reporters Association hosted several meet and greet events including at the Nassau County Bar Association, and in locations in Buffalo, Long Island, Rochester, and Syracuse.

“The meet and greets brought students, freelancers, captioners and CART providers, officials and Supreme and County Court Judges, as well as members of the Bar, together to celebrate and honor our timeless profession during our special week,” said NCRA President-Elect, Steven A. Zinone, RPR, an official court reporter from Pittsford, N.Y.

“As everyone is aware this winter has been brutal, but the sub-zero temperatures could not stop the great turn out from Buffalo, to Rochester, to Syracuse, to Manhattan to Long Island,” he added.  Thanks to the New York State Court Reporters Association for organizing all these fabulous events where all segments of our profession came together, evincing the evolution of our timeless profession.

Both the Texas Court Reporters Association and the Wisconsin Court Reporters Association were represented at the conventions of their state school guidance counselors where members provided information about the court reporting profession and its many benefits and job opportunities.

COURT REPORTING SCHOOLS

Students and faculty at Anoka Technical Institute in Anoka, Minn., joined with the Minnesota Association of Verbatim Reporters and Captioners to host a Court Reporting Spring Fling event to celebrate the week. The event was open to the public and included food, demonstrations, prizes, and a tour of a realtime courtroom.

In Portland, Ore., Jacqueline Butler, court reporting program director, reported that the faculty invited working court reporters and captioners to the school to share their experiences with students and provide encouragement and remind them of the many benefits the profession offers.

To mark the event, the College of Court Reporting in Hobart, Ind., hosted a number of activities throughout a Spirit Week including inviting to the school a realtime broadcast captioner as a guest speaker. Other activities included recording and transcribing the story of Noah Galloway, an Operation Iraq Freedom veteran and the first amputee to ever appear on the cover of Men’s Health Magazine, for the Veterans History Project. Faculty also took to Twitter to for an hour-long session to answer questions about the profession. Other activities included an open house for the families of students and friends to learn more about the profession, a realtime competition, and dress themes through the week that included red, white, and blue, sports, professional dress, and movie and television characters. CCR also engaged its online students throughout the week using social media to help them be involved in the celebrations.

MEDIA

Media exposure of the 2015 National Court Reporting & Captioning Week was captured from outlets around the country. In addition to a number of printed articles showcasing members and the profession, several television stories also aired highlighting the benefits of a career in court reporting and captioning profession and the bright job outlook in the next five years. Many of the stories appearing also noted NCRA’s Take Note campaign and the industry study released in August 2014 by Ducker Worldwide that identified the future need to fill 5,000 jobs in the profession in the next five years.

Among the most notable stories included:

  • A news story about Midwest Litigation Services hosting court reporting students from South Technical High School and their parents at its headquarters in downtown St. Louis, Mo., appeared in the Feb 13 edition of St. Louis Today. After a tour of various departments and a presentation by Nancy Hopp, RDR, CRR, CMRS, the chief operating officer for Midwest Litigation Services and a former court reporter, one of the attendees related that, “As a parent of a student in the court reporting program, it’s refreshing to hear that so many of the working professionals love their career and can earn a good living at the same time.”
  • NCRA Vice President Nativa Wood, RDR, CMRS, a retired official court reporter from Harrisburg, Pa., was featured in an article posted on com on Feb. 15. Wood discusses her career as a court reporter as well as the future of the profession.
  • WAVY TV in Portsmouth, Va., aired a piece on Feb. 17 that showcased the court reporting and captioning profession, noted that Feb. 15-21 was National Court Reporting & Captioning Week, and referred to NCRA’s Take Note website, crTakeNote.com. Additional NCRA members who were interviewed in the piece were Tony Sprately, Lois Boyle, RMR, and Carol Naughton, RPR.
  • A two-part story that aired on Feb. 17, on WJXT’s First Coast Living show in Florida, included interviews with Melissa Meisterhans, co-director of education for Stenotype Institute, Holly Kapacinskas, RPR, CRR, president of the Florida Court Reporters Association, and several students. Both segments included information about how to enter the profession, the Ducker Worldwide study job outlook, salary information, and the various areas court reporters and captioners can work in.
  • Another two-part segment aired on Feb. 20 on the CBS local program Good Day Sacramento in California. News reporter Cody Stark showcased the profession by touring the Argonaut Court Reporting Program at the Jones Skills & Business Center in Sacramento. In addition, Karly Greenshields, chair of the Career Day and School Outreach Committee for the California Court Reporters Association, was also on hand at the school and was interviewed about the profession, why it’s not just in the courtroom, and the future job outlook. In the second segment, Stark tries his own hand on the steno machine to record a segment from the movie, A Few Good Men.
  • Official court reporters Melanie Morel, RPR, and Cindy Zelinka were featured in an article posted on Feb. 24, by The Dispatch, Columbus, Miss. The article offers a glimpse of what it’s like to serve as official court reporters for the Clay County Circuit Court and offers insight from the women about what made them chose the career.

Finally, among the thousands of tweets and other social media postings throughout the week that stood out, perhaps the one that provided members the most pleasant surprise was from U.S. Rep. Ron Kind on his Facebook page on Feb. 18 that recognized National Court Reporting & Captioning Week and noted that he is excited that the Wisconsin Court Reporters Association had  partnered with the Library of Congress to record the oral histories of American war veterans as part of the Veterans History Project.

NCRA has designated Feb. 21 – 27 as the 2016 National Court Reporting & Captioning Week.