Stand Together or Hang Separately.
Often in this blog, we may see that I’ll refer to us as we or us. Inevitably, some will wonder why I would do such a thing. It’s only fair that I offer up the answer. We are together in this. This field is our field. The field’s success, the collective success of all of us, is what determines whether it stays strong or falls silent. While there is much to be said about the power of the individual and how one may, if so motivated, do great things alone, there can never be enough said for the collective actions of all. The more people to believe in a thing, the more exponential its growth.
Care About Your Future.
In our view, the field only thrives when all its arms are doing well. There are so many of us in the deposition, court, education, and captioning worlds. Even when you take those basic categories, you realize that there is a vast difference and divide between realtimers and non-realtimers, and even with regard to non-realtimers, a deep divide where some non-realtimers care very much about the field, and some care not at all. Then more divisions where some only care about a particular arm or sect of court reporter. What we want is simple: For all the arms to come together in their ideas and advocacy of the field, and to demand better for each other so that no one group is left jobless or worthless. We need not even care for the sake of caring! Care for our own self-interests. Care so that the dollars you are making today are dollars you can make tomorrow!
The Realtime Example.
Often we find that the answer to all unhappy with the money they are making is to be realtime. This is an admirable bit of advice, but it neglects a few simple truths: Some cannot be realtime. Many will never pay for realtime. What do I mean by that? Carve up New York City by all its work. Every day there are hundreds of depositions taking place. Surely, we’ve known that there are realtimers who take realtime work most every day, and are rightfully paid well. They are frightfully outnumbered by the amount of people taking simple cases that simply don’t need realtime.
Truly, if we got rid of all the non-realtime work, and with it, all of those non-realtime reporters, what would be left of our field? That money would pour into alternatives to stenography. There is a psychological power to having a stenographer at almost every deposition in New York City. It means that nine times out of ten, the lawyer is going to call up a stenographic reporting firm for the next deposition. If the stenographer was a rarity or a novelty instead of a staple, how easy would it be for the realtimer to now be seen as an extraneous, unnecessary expense, as opposed to an upgrade to the staple service?
Indeed, we’ve already felt the pains of a field which neglects its novices. In 2010, it was purportedly quite common knowledge that realtime, rough draft, and even medical testimony was worth an upcharge. As people left school and went on into the field without training wheels, they were many times assured by firm owners that no, clients do not pay extra for this and that, and now there are at least a few anecdotes of free roughs, free realtime, and no-upcharge medical going around. That’s money out of our pockets and into the firms’. This was completely avoidable, if only we who knew proactively taught we who did not that these are added, extra services, and that they should always expect and even demand to be compensated for that extra work.
So we’ve come to that moment where many may wonder: What can be done? Where possible, commit yourselves to the uplifting of your fellow reporter! For the realtime-capable, urge them to go into realtime! For the not-so-realtime-capable, tell them that there is a future! Teach them that they can negotiate! Teach them how to negotiate! Education and professional development is the key. Instill in all that complacency and contentedness is the surest way to be taken advantage of. Instill in all that continuing to view each other as competition instead of comrades is the greatest threat to our livelihoods. If you see a movement which is beneficial to reporting, consider supporting it. If you see no movement, consider creating it. As Ariel Durant wrote, “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within.”