Something that comes up very, very often is “realtime is safe.” “There will always be a need for good realtime.” These things basically allow some realtimers to kid themselves into believing they are irreplaceable. I’m going to rip the band-aid off here. If we lose the non-realtime work, realtime will cease to be good income. It may take a while, but my basis for saying that goes back to economics / supply and demand. Needless to say, if you’re one of the many realtimers that gives a damn, the vitriol isn’t directed at you.
At present, we have a field of about 30,000 people. About 2,000 are CRRs. In the event that non-realtime work is lost, it will create a situation where about 28,000 people have an incentive to lie and say they are realtime providers. Effectively, the supply of realtime writers will go from a few thousand to tens of thousands. What happens when the supply of something increases while demand remains the same? The price falls. We’re talking about 10x or 15x today’s supply. Even if you think I suck at math and it’s a third of that, that’s still 3-5x the supply. The rates are going to fall through the floor as a matter of economic reality. The agencies will coddle you and tell you how special you are right up until they slit your throat and send someone else to do your job for less.
I accept that this will be unpopular. Confirmation bias is a powerful thing. For the last two decades you’ve all been soaked with “realtime is the future,” “everyone must go realtime,” “realtime will always be in demand,” “the cream rises to the top.” And all of that is bullshit. We’re all better than digital. The cream didn’t rise to the top there, they just started replacing us. If anyone thinks for one second companies won’t start sending “okay” realtimers who agree to work for less over “super special realtimers,” while pocketing the difference, then this might be a really rude but necessary awakening. USL allegedly stole from one of its executives, for crying out loud! You think they won’t pull off a completely legal move that makes them more money?
If you think court reporters wouldn’t lie about their realtime status, think again. It was happening back when I started in 2010. The smart ones figured out they could beat the atrocious rates by claiming to be realtime. Needless to say, I wasn’t so smart. Now imagine a world where the rug has been pulled out from under thousands of people and their families, and all they have to do to keep their jobs is say “oh yeah, I’m realtime too.”
I believe in realtime. I think it should continue to be a specialty. I think it should continue to command good income. I also know there are a lot of damn good realtimers that are fighting, educating, and care about everyone. But for those sitting on the sideline assuming things will just work out for you because you worked so hard to get where you are, rethink it. When they’re ready to turn the faucet off on you, you don’t get advanced notice.
Will they, though? Are you really sure? Do you have it in writing?
Lawyers don’t play this game. When the robots came for their “beloved” traffic court they fought back. They don’t throw those lawyers under the bus and say “the cream rises to the top, so sad for you.” And this is why this post is a little indignant. We’re the only ninnies that go around saying “yes, please take food off everyone else’s plate, but when you get to me, I know you’ll reward my loyalty with a second helping.”