Some months ago, I was writing about a plot in our industry. In its loosest sense, this deals with Veritext, US Legal, and my documenting that the companies tend to spend a lot of energy building digital court reporting at the expense of stenography. In my view, both companies and the Speech-to-Text Institute appear to be crafting a narrative rather than responding to legitimate shortage concerns. “We cannot recruit enough stenographers from the 40 to 80 stenography schools nationwide, but we can somehow fill demand with digital reporters and Blueledge.” It’s not a believable position. To this day, I’m making efforts to determine whether there is actual cooperation among competitors, a sort of tacit parallelism where major players in our industry all suddenly and “independently” decided that digital reporting was the future, or something else. The motivation would be money. By making our market out to be an emerging market that investors can be first in on and omitting the fact that there’s a well-established profession, more low-information investors can be drawn in and more capital can be raised. My work is largely about restructuring the discussion from “the stenographer shortage is irreversible” to “we beat it.”
In the course of my writing and documentation in December 2021, I began experiencing psychosis symptoms. This culminated in a nasty bout of paranoid thinking where I made some crazy claims. Specifically, claims attaching Dave Wenhold and the National Court Reporters Association to the plot claims. I do want to clear this up for my readers: Dave Wenhold and NCRA have done nothing wrong. On all the available evidence I have today, Dave’s been a leader and friend to stenographers for many, many years. I’ve written before that I generally admire Dave Wenhold. I think he’s brilliant. My more negative thoughts about him and the NCRA were a side effect of the distorted thinking I was experiencing during my medical situation in December and some months afterwards.
I’m deeply sorry for some of what came out of Camp Christopher Day. I have no problem being a “bad guy” if it’s justified. But I stand firmly against misinformation. To the extent that I gave my readers misinformation that caused them to believe NCRA or Dave Wenhold are not working for stenographers, it’s a problem I need to address. The claims I made about them were largely motivated by a broken mind coupled with some bad information. I should not have written things I did in December.
There are a lot of promising things coming out of Camp NCRA that members can get behind. The organization is calling for volunteers and has launched an advocacy center. The advocacy center’s first move seems to be focusing on the Training for Realtime Writers Act. If successful, we can expect an expansion of stenographic education, as more dollars will flow to schools. If that’s something you’re interested in supporting, head over to the advocacy center page and send a message of support to your elected representative. NCRA’s made it easy for you, just fill in your address and it will assist you in contacting your rep.
It’s an exciting time to be in this industry. We are finding our footing in a data economy. It may be worthwhile for NCRA to continue to collect and publish statistics on our field, but especially rate data. For over a decade, a myth has pervaded our field that associations can never discuss rates. I surveyed nearly 100 court reporters last year. Over 72% reported that they did not have a good grasp on antitrust law. Over 86% had heard that associations can never discuss rates.
Despite the ubiquity of the rumor, it is untrue that associations can never discuss rates. In fact, the FTC itself states that many trade associations share aggregated data with members. I’ve clipped out the relevant text from the FTC site for my audience.
This is important for a number of reasons. My survey results showed a dire need for antitrust education that NCRA or a private vendor could jump on to increase revenue. Aggregated rate data on our field would help attract investors, new blood, and entrepreneurs to our field. The data collection could be featured in the JCR and increase the value of membership and the publication. Imagine, in the not-so-distant future, mentors being able to concretely tell mentees average rates and earnings. It would be a monumental project for NCRA alone, but perhaps the National Congress of State Associations can be mobilized to train and organize the state associations to provide state data, which could then be fed up the pipeline to NCRA every quarter.
I pledge to do my part, remain in treatment, and continue to platform people and support this profession. If any of my readers need clarification on my work, please comment below or reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
4 thoughts on “Correcting the Record on Dave Wenhold and NCRA”
Thank you Christopher and I appreciate your comments more than you know. I have fought and will always fight for our members and our industry. I hope all of you sign the message to your elected officials. Over a decade ago, I created the need for Congress to fund programs and was able to work with Congress to get millions of dollars for court reporting schools to recruit and train stenographic reporters (a couple schools in NY benefited from that effort). Additionally, NCRA’s GR team, along with our members, pushed Congress to pass the original Training for Realtime Writers Act (after 8 years of lobbying) and now we need your help to pass this iteration. We need these funds to encourage more people to get into this great profession, but to do that we need each person to push Congress to get this done.
I encourage all of you to call, write, and meet with your elected officials to let them know why having a stenographic reporter is critical for an accurate record and access to important information to those with hearing loss. We have a great GR leader with Jocelynn Moore at NCRA but we can’t do it alone. It’s amazing what we can do together when we put all of the nonsense behind us and stand together. Ask ILCRA how they kicked some serious butt when all the reporters and captioners banded together recently. That was a clinic in how to do things right and actively fight together, with one cohesive message. Before I get off my advocacy soapbox please remember something. When people stand by and say “someone” needs to do something, remember….you are that someone.
Finally, Christopher I appreciate the note and we all need to remember to take care of our bodies and minds. Never feel like you cannot ask for help from your friends or colleagues. NCRA’s Immediate Past and the current President, along with the entire Board, have made a conscious effort to maintain our stand on providing resources to help members (and nonmembers) who may be struggling. We are all struggling in some personal way and this pandemic has not helped. Please take care of yourself and make sure you take care of each other. Be well everyone and United We Stand!
P.S. Please forgive the grammatical errors. While I can advocate and protect this profession, my worst subject in school was English 😉
Thank you for coming on and commenting. Stronger together!
Christopher, you have my appreciation for all the work you do for our profession, and my admiration for having the courage to speak openly about your situation and offer the clarification and apology that you did. It can’t have been easy. You’ll never know who may have been helped by hearing your story, but I assure you that someone has or will be. Wishing continued success and good health!
After it all played out I figured I had two options, curl up somewhere and hide or use the experience to help others.
I really hope that any reporters suffering realize things can get better. I’ll do my best to be a friend to anyone that reaches out.