I have been in touch with a source that claims to have contacts in government, and based on information available to me, I believe it. There are three issues that myself or my source may have the opportunity to shed some light on and explain to people in positions of power. First, the abysmal state of the New York market’s pay for many deposition stenographers. Second, the fraud concerns, where stenographer shortage is being used as an excuse to sell digital court reporting. Third, the potential for copy protection. There are no guarantees on the table, but I’ve put down a lot of time and money on solving these issues, and my audience has too, so I’ve got to share with the wider Stenonymous audience.
What we have been asked for in order to facilitate a meeting is data, and what we intend to do is show that reporters from other places are pulling in much larger amounts. To this end, a couple of the big box rate sheets to reporters have been acquired, and they show rates that are laughably low when viewed in the light of available historical information. Check them out below.
I already have some data in this regard and intend to share it publicly as soon as possible, but for those of you that would like to assist, please consider sending your rate sheet & info to firstname.lastname@example.org and name your state. I anticipate that this round of data collection will not be ending up on Stenonymous.com, so if you help out by sending a rate sheet, rest assured it’s not being shared with the world, but it will be used in averages and advocating for reporters over here.
As for things I’ll share with the world, reporters should keep in mind that both of these companies deviate upward from these rates when they want to. Don’t be discouraged from trying to get more if you take work from either company. It’s about negotiation, and if one can negotiate higher than what one sees here, that’s what one gets. This is how the game is played. This is in stark contrast to how reporting students were told the game was played around 2008. We were told court reporting sells itself, six-figure salary without a BA. This wasn’t a complete lie. I’ll be the first to concede there are a lot of court reporters making a lot of money out there. I’m fighting for the ones that are considering picking up a different field because they don’t make enough. If they leave, our shortage gets worse, digital expansion accelerates, and then digitals will be used as an excuse to keep stenographer rates down, similar to how stenographers were told “if you don’t take it for less, someone else will” all through my early career.
We need to wrap our heads around the fact that corporations and the people representing those corporations will say just about anything to benefit the corporation. An example? When I was a young reporter, I was told by Jaguar Reporting that attorneys see us as a dime a dozen. But when representing at a legal conference with Patricia Bidon and others, attorneys were all about stenographers over alternatives. Perhaps opening up about some of what I’ve seen will expose why I am so passionate. Think of your mentor or mentee. Do you want them to be told they are a dime a dozen? Do you want them to be told they’re less valuable than they are? Do you want to perpetuate that kind of conduct in our field?
A lot of us come from a place of integrity and honesty. A lot of us don’t like to speak out unless we’re “absolutely certain.” But this isn’t how anything happens in reality. As a society we convict people based on what 6 to 12 people believe they heard about an incident. We accept or reject laws based upon the say-so of activists and lobbyists. History goes to who wins and not who is right.
So all I’m saying is we might as well win, and if you send me a rate sheet today, you’ll be helping me do that.