Tipping Points Are Hard!

After my accusation that Veritext and US Legal appear to be colluding to sell the inferior digital court reporting service to attorneys despite clear evidence that the market preference is stenography, I took an entire day off blogging and looked up exactly how to get this information to the FTC.

Then I did it. I sent them a nice email laying out my thoughts. Because given all the information I have, who wouldn’t? I had filed a weaker attorney general complaint in my state, but the FTC is an agency that needs to know.

Then I gave them my contact info.

This is in addition to the social media pressure I am exerting on the company.

And you know what? There is plenty of pressure to apply there. Not only was L. Freiler accused of slander, this looks like Giammanco’s MO, accuse women who are a threat to him.

And you know what, court reporters? People are on your side. This is what they have to say about Giammanco’s actions.

I make it no secret that I think US Legal is despicable. I tag Rick Levy occasionally to let him know. Partially because it’s hilarious and mostly because I want every court reporter in this country to see with their own eyes that the companies pushing us around all these years are weak. How many months of watching Chris Day do whatever he wants will it take for court reporters to realize that they are each individually just as powerful? Because that’s how many months we’ll be experiencing this together.

I don’t just scream out to the void, I let people know when their employers are hurting society.

My frustration isn’t misplaced. After I explained that digital reporting would hurt minority speakers, USL increased digital court reporting recruitment. I’ve gotten a notification from LinkedIn every day about joining USL as a digital.

But now other companies have realized the lie and are now openly announcing they will do what USL cannot and provide stenographic court reporters. Lexitas has jumped in on the LinkedIn game, and instead of pushing the word digital, they are looking for court reporters in New York City.

I have to point out that US Legal is on real shaky ground. If you’re working with them it’s time to ask for a raise. Tell them you’ll walk if you don’t get it. They’ll give it to you or they’ll be swept away by their own incredible incompetence. Everybody from the production people to the court reporters needs a raise right now. Anything less is disingenuous braying by US Legal and I urge my colleagues not to fall for it.

Mary Ann Payonk, a popular realtime reporter, has a saying. “Tipping points are hard.” The idea was that the field was headed more and more towards AI and digital. We were at a tipping point, and once things started sliding against us, it wouldn’t stop. Only good court reporters might survive. Keep improving or be replaced. A wonderful message insofar as it encourages reporters to be better and do better. But that was before all my research into how bad digital reporting is for the public, consumers, court reporters, investors, and people in general. That was before the Racial Disparities in Automatic Speech Recognition study. That was before Bloomberg broke the news that much of AI was people behind screens. Now we know our value. Now we know that there is a place for every stenographic court reporter. Now we see that by advocating for ourselves, we can change the course of history in the same way that computer programmers did.

Tipping points are pretty hard. And since a small fraction of us just tipped things in our favor and the others are getting motivated to jump in, I can’t wait to see what happens next. It is time to get involved with stenographic nonprofits and associations. Together, we will take what was an industry in decline and create a paragon of success and morality that will ensure the safety and quality of America’s legal records and captions.

My plan for the blog is pretty simple. I am going to continue to use donations that come in in whatever way seems appropriate and keep publishing for our field. If the people that have not donated to me yet donate about $300 to me, I will have about $3 million and I will retire so that I can be a full-time steno advocate and set up funding programs for stenographic nonprofits and associations. I can’t help but float the suggestion. You know who you’re hiring for the job and you’ve seen what I can do with a sensible budget set by the good will of court reporters. I have proven that for the working reporter there is no better friend than Christopher Day.

And as always, thank you to all of you that made this possible. To people that have donated already, I have to ask you to share this with at least one court reporter. You will be helping them overcome the fear so prevalent in our field. There’s no greater honor.

8 thoughts on “Tipping Points Are Hard!

  1. Omg. Last night I thought why hasn’t anyone reached out to the FTC! And if anyone can explain it all you can !

  2. I had a client call me and ask, Is there such a thing as a Certified Digital Reporter? I’m in Texas, so I replied, Hell, no! Well, I’ve got one in my conference room, so she’s out of here!
    It’s SO frustrating that these big boxes are getting away with this, and they are aided by our governing board, the JBCC, because they are saying they don’t have jurisdiction over a firm not practicing court reporting even though THEY GAVE THEM A FIRM NUMBER!! They are using the firm number to file crazy certificates that are not allowed in Texas – like a scopist cert and a notary cert. My husband has filed a lawsuit against them, but if we win they will appeal. Doesn’t anyone care that these “digi’s” are notaries that are not officers of the court? And per the answer they filed in our lawsuit, We are not transcribing the deposition in Texas, so we are not under Texas Rules!!! Really?

  3. Thank you for looking out for the profession. I am but a lowly student just beginning, but I am facing an uphill climb. Not just because I’m in a state with no official programs, but also I’m working full-time as I study for this.

    My state seems to be making a push toward digital citing the shortage. A program at Midlands Technical College seems to have been scrapped a few years ago, and the technical college nearest to where I live (Augusta Technical College) has a DIGITAL Court Reporter certificate program.

    I feel like even as I am just starting on this quest, the deck is stacked against me in here. How can we show to attorneys, prosecutors and courts in entire states that stenographic/voice court reporting cannot be replaced?

    1. I mean this politely. I believe one of the first steps you will have to take is to stop thinking of yourself as a lowly student. In our psychology, our expectations change how we act. We subconsciously work towards our expectations. That’s the Pygmalion effect discovered by Robert Rosenthal in 1968. Then we also know through Richter’s rats that hope makes us superhuman. So how — how do we meet any of these challenges? We must first believe that we can.

      As for a practical example, I think that some of the best arguments against the digital are that it’s not really cheaper to the end user, less efficient, doesn’t follow industry best practices, and based on the science currently available will hurt minority speakers.

      More practically for you, join your state association, take some of the stuff I’ve published, package it in a less bombastic way, and slowly but surely we’ll all be able to get the word out. All the article highlights on the cover page at Stenonymous.com are pretty good.

      Just remember that you alone are powerful and can make a huge difference. There is no limit to what you can accomplish working with your fellow reporters.

      1. You’re absolutely right. I’m a student right now, but that won’t be the case forever! At your recommendation, I just joined the South Carolina Court Reporters Association.

        I have to become invested in my future, and this is my future. If I want to ensure the profession is respected, I have to start doing it myself.

        Thank you for the encouragement, and for everything you do.

      2. 🙂 and don’t underestimate your power as a student. I have seen students get millions of views for this profession where we professionals struggle to get a few hundred or thousand.

        Congratulations on joining! Please reach out if there’s any way I can help.

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