First, thank you for the readers that alerted me to these posts. Anir Dutta, president of Stenograph, posted some shots of Advantage presumably at AAERT and poked fun at those that feel outrage over Stenograph’s digital lean. These posts were on Facebook and Instagram.
First, to be totally honest, some rough things have been said about Anir. Memes have been made of him. It hasn’t been pretty. I did not personally direct a lot of that stuff, but my blogging probably led to it, and I’ve seen it myself, so I can appreciate it if there’s some animosity there. Anything that he has to say about me is fair comment, even where I might disagree.
His point is kinda valid. Advantage is leaning towards digital. I wrote a short post about that. I don’t agree with the shots at NCRA and my audience, so I wrote him a comment on Instagram. He seems to have me blocked on Facebook, so I couldn’t there.
Shortly after my comment on May 20, 2023, the post was deleted or hidden. Mr. Dutta later denied his comments about NCRA.
From a self-aggrandizement perspective, I don’t think there’s ever been better evidence that I’m under the skin of the multimillion dollar corporations. You all want to take this to the next level? Throw me some funding. And thank you to those that have. Stenographers fund NCRA to the tune of $3 million a year. We shook these big money types with about $10,000, activism from all of you, and a blog. It’s not hard to see that given just a little more support, they would be cremated and stenography would carry on like they never existed in the first place.
After all this went down, a court reporter sent me the Stenograph Code of Conduct. It was before Anir’s time, but it’s a worthy piece of history. Thanks for sending it!
I don’t have any delusions here. I’m in a much easier position than Anir. I can say what I want, do what I want, and nobody says a damn thing. Anir makes one off comment and suddenly everyone is rallied against the multimillion dollar corporation bullying Christopher Day and the NCRA. But I’m human. Watching Anir backpedal is fun. I had more screenshots passed to me.
What can I really say? We knew Advantage had a digital lean. But more than that, the National Court Reporters Association loyalists now know exactly what Stenograph thinks of them. And NCRA is not perfect, it has loyalists that are feeling the burn.
That said, NCRA has an important role to play in stenographer advancement. It is ready for education vendors that want to change the game and keep stenographers informed on everything from social media to linguistics.
As always, I admit that I could not be here without those of you that have supported this blog through monetary or information donations.
But the major point here is that power does not care much about what you think until you start speaking with others about it. So if you have ever wondered how to make a difference in the wide world of court reporting and the advancement of this profession, it might be as a simple as a like, a share, or an uncomfortable discussion.
I would like to release the letter I wrote to Anir Dutta in November 2021. Perhaps it will be important someday, errors and all.
“To Anir Dutta, President
2626 Warrenville Rd., Downers Grove, IL 60515
Mr. Dutta, I am writing today to explain myself to you in the hopes that our industry can go down a better road.
It’s no secret that Stenograph wants to build its digital reporting and ASR business. It seems obvious to me that this push to “the future” is based on what occurred at Kodak. Kodak did not change fast enough and it was swept away. But to equate the two is dangerous in our field. There was a study that came out in early 2020, Racial Disparities in Automatic Speech Recognition. This showed ASR accuracy from 25% to 80% dependent on who was speaking. Some of the largest companies in the world were studied, including Apple, IBM, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft. IBM makes something like $73 billion in revenue. Stenograph, according to various estimator sites, estimates Stenograph’s revenue to be about $20 million. Succinctly, if we are to equate this moment to Kodak, the path you are on is promoting the “new” digital photo if that photo had only captured 25% to 80% of the pictures people took. The company is trying to promote a product that companies 3,650x larger have not been able to perfect. Just look at VIQ Solutions and its $10 million loss last quarter to see how well digital reporting does.
I have previously published videos showing that US Legal and Veritext, two of the largest companies in our field, both inflated shortage numbers (required enrollments) by a factor of 6. I must now also point to STTI. It is not a safe source of information. In at least one of its infographics, it did not account for any of the recruitment initiatives 2013-2018, and it grossly misrepresented the current situation. If STTI information was reliable, over 16% of all jobs would currently be going uncovered. My preliminary research shows that fewer than 5% of jobs are going uncovered. We also know digital recruitment has not been sufficient to cover the gap because USL is advertising for a digital reporter every single day.
You’ve been lied to. You are basically waiting for a drop in supply and a rise in demand that was artificially exaggerated to build a market for digital reporting. You would do much better to throw support behind stenographers. They’ll love you for it and the company will see sales rise. We are here, but we are done being treated like numbers on a balance sheet because of our collective predisposition towards silence.
I publish the Stenonymous blog. Much of the evidence and arguments I rely on are housed there. Consider it an extension of my memory. As things occur, I write, and I rely on my past self to be honest so that my future self can rely on the numbers there. I’ve taken the time out to step away from the media personality that you’ll see on Stenonymous and give you the deepest insight into our field you’ll ever get. A very large percentage of this industry reads my blog, and if Stenograph will not support stenographers, and only stenographers, then I will be the first to let them what to do about it. “
My errors in the letter aside — Maybe he never got my letter. Or maybe he threw it in the trash. Whatever the truth, we have the head of a multimillion dollar corporation that felt justified in calling me crazy and intellectually challenged. Who knows? Perhaps I am intellectually challenged. I was diagnosed with Asperger’s in my teens. And that’s something I didn’t share with many out of fear. But I have always been honest here, because it is also part of my strategy. As I told Anir in the letter, if past Chris is always honest, future Chris can always rely on past Chris’s findings. I cannot possibly remember all of the things I have written, but I can remember that I was always determined to be truthful. And here’s the honest truth:
We were told the shortage was irreversible by the Speech-to-Text Institute, which Anir Dutta, and by extension, Stenograph, were a part of and in the leadership of. This was incorrect. For example, we were supposed to have a shortage of 11,000 by 2023. Our entire field is 18,000 to 30,000 people depending on whether you use Bureau of Labor Statistics stats or NCRA stats. A shortage of 11,000 is over half of the field if you take the 18,000 number. So about half the jobs in the entire United States should be going uncovered right now. That’s not happening. I’ve asked agency owners and they’ve said “nothing goes uncovered” or “less than 5% goes uncovered.” Less than five percent is about the same as it was “pre-shortage” times.
I go back to the question I asked Anir. What would you do? You spend years helping these kids so that they have an easier time than you did — only to find that the people in control of millions of dollars that should be fighting for these kids are actively working against them. That’s who I am. You go back on my YouTube and you’ll find me dictating to students for free. What would get an introvert like me to stop doing that and start doing all the things I did after?
Cold. Hard. Truth. As things stand, I believe in this field and believe it is worth improving. If there was a magic technology that could do what we do in the same egalitarian way that we do it, I would, somewhat begrudgingly, give up my job. But that’s not where the science goes. Testifying While Black study told us we’re twice as good as newbies and 1.5x as good as lawyers at taking down the AAVE dialect. Juxtaposed with TFB, Racial Disparities in Automatic Speech Recognition study told us we’re up to 3x better than AI/ASR depending on who’s speaking.
Hopefully soon Anir Dutta realizes the crazy at Stenonymous is onto something.
Stenonymous Satire Weekends is canceled this weekend because this is way better.
In the evening on May 21, 2023…
On May 22, 2023, a video was posted to the CaseCAT Users Group showing Anir Dutta apologizing, explaining that he let his emotions get the better of him because of personal attacks he’s had over the last two years, and ending in stating that we’d be hearing from him a town hall, as petitioners recently asked him to. If all this is true, I think that’s really big of him. Handled it way better than I would’ve. It’s the best news we’ve had in a long time.