After I was given permission to mirror Andy Bajaña’s song, things dried up for a while on my end. I’m pleased to announce a new stenographer song by Anonymous, commissioned by Stenonymous.com.
The song’s available for download at $1.00. The song’s already free on YouTube and easy to share, but I know there will be those of you that want the wav file or to show support.
It’s thanks to this community that I’m able to do things like this. It’s like I keep saying, more resources give me more power to advance our interests.
Perhaps that makes it a good time to lay out some of my long-term goals. I’d like to grow big enough to begin to centralize our stenographic media, get some of our best influencers on a payroll or contract basis, and really begin extending our reach using several different entertainment styles. It’ll take me a long while to do it alone. Not so with the help of my fellow court reporters.
Regardless of what you think of that plan, enjoy the song, and have a great day!
I attended the National Court Reporters Association Town Hall today with President Jason Meadors, and boy, am I glad I did. It gave me confidence that the association and its leaders are pushing hard to represent the interests of members. The entire session was almost exactly an hour, so there’s a lot to unpack.
Present at the meeting were, as stated, NCRA President Jason Meadors, Executive Director Dave Wenhold, Max Curry, a Past President and Chair of the A to Z committee, Annemarie Roketenetz, Director of Communications & PR, and Jocelynn Moore, Director of Government Relations. The meeting started off with a lengthy discussion from Max Curry about the A to Z program, and he took the time to explain where the program started and how it was completely revamped. According to Mr. Curry, A to Z began with about 50 boots-on-the-ground programs in the states. That fell away when the pandemic happened, and most programs closed. Programs in Texas, Tennessee, Minnesota, and California all went remote, which showed that the program could be done remotely. A new vision has come into place where the program can be done remotely and all of the resources can be centralized behind the program, with fewer boots-on-the-ground programs. Eight programs will be done a year, four asynchronous and four live. This is to capture the different kinds of learners — ones that can learn on their own AND people that need interactivity to succeed.
One of the truly exciting plans was for a landing page that can be centralized that brings people back to A to Z. NCRA is planning to reach out to organizations and associations to have them host a button or link to the landing page, creating a spiderweb or net that helps catch all the people that might be interested in this wonderful career and bring them back to the NCRA’s A to Z to give steno a try. They may ask firms to donate $5 to $10 of their Search Engine Optimization budget to help bring people to the landing page. NCRA President-Elect Kristin Anderson’s Houston President’s Party will act as a fundraiser for SEO dollars to ramp up advertising about court reporting and captioning as careers.
Lisa Dennison also spoke and informed us that 15 A to Z scholarships were given out at $750 per award. NCRA interacted with ASCA, the American School Counselor Association, getting school counselors’ contact information, adding them to a contact list, and getting them information about court reporting. It was mentioned that the communications team has been working on Instagram, QR Codes, and other ways to spread the message. Reliance donated money for student memberships for previous A to Z graduates, which helped grow association membership as well.
It was mentioned that NCRA continues to work with vendors such as Advantage, ProCAT, and Stenograph. The StenoCAT iPad app, iStenoPad, was also described as a way to simplify the logistics of getting stenotypes to participants.
It was explained that last year 295 students were picked up by A to Z. Max Curry clarified that some local programs do not coordinate with headquarters, so numbers from those programs are unavailable. Ms. Dennison asked that participant lists be sent to the NCRA so that better data can be compiled.
A quote by Brianna Coppola was shared. “I have never seen or heard of another ‘career test drive’ course. It really spotlights the encouragement within the community of reporters and their love for their jobs and dedication to the field.”
Dineen Squillante asked about the possibility of reaching out to departments of labor in each state. Lisa Dennison responded that it was something that could be looked into.
2022 Program Leaders and Speakers were thanked. It’s an extensive list, and I feel they deserve the recognition.
Ms. Dennison made it clear that the door was open to anyone that wanted to reach out on A to Z.
Annemarie Roketenetz talked a little bit about plants for Court Reporting & Captioning week, and a lot about the many endeavors of NCRA. She also mentioned that a number of press releases would be made, leading up to a larger press release that will link back to all the smaller ones. This is in line with dispatching our news and events regularly, and a very smart move on NCRA’s part. Several events were mentioned. Review the Town Hall recording at the Learning Center for more, I cannot do it justice in print. Our PR and communications are in good hands.
Mr. Meadors noted that Legislative Bootcamp has been called a “money grab.” He stated NCRA does not make money on bootcamp and reiterated what an important program it really is.
Jocelynn Moore expounded on bootcamp, explaining that it is extremely immersive training on how to be effective grassroots lobbyists. She stated that the training is “going to give you all of the tools necessary to go in front of a legislator, oppose legislation that doesn’t agree with the profession, or advocate for a bill coming through. Some of the topics covered will be “politics 101,” how associations work, and how you can mobilize with other members in your state to move forward on a particular issue.
The Training for Realtime Writers Act was mentioned. It was also mentioned that it will be difficult to reintroduce this under a Congress attempting to cut spending. More information will be provided on that at bootcamp, but also more on the situation from Indiana. Participants will learn how to advocate in front of different parties and teach members to speak to legislators, because legislators do not always have all of the information we have about our field.
Ms. Moore continued on to talk about the Indiana issue. The proposed prohibition of stenographers from Indiana courts was revealed. We learned that NCRA began a grassroots campaign to find out what happened and why the proposed change was introduced. The organization has found difficulty getting information about the change, but finds the language to be discriminatory and mandatory, robbing judges of their discretion and forcing them not to use a stenographer.
It was a packed hour. My only criticism of the event would be that they ran out of time for questions. But you know what? It happens. President Meadors directed that efforts should be made to record questions asked and that efforts would be made to have them answered. Everything wrapped up with Dave Wenhold thanking the participants for coming out on a Saturday. He said that if you get any information on Indiana, you can pass it to him or Ms. Moore. President Meadors noted that just showing up and asking questions meant participants were dedicated to the profession. The meeting subsequently came to a close.
Refinement of the programs we have is going to seize the day here. Leadership is doing something very impressive. My opinion may not count for much, but I’d thank each of them for the hard work that they do and continuing to fight for this profession. It’s inspiring, and I hope reading a little about it has inspired all of you.
Ana Fatima Costa, AKA MockWoman, is a coach and mentor in our field that has been providing internships for court reporters for over 13 years free of charge. To continue this program, there is now a cost of $197 for the experience, which may be covered by the apprentice, a mentor, or a sponsoring agency/business. I sponsored a student in the past and it was a good experience for them, so I have real faith in Ana’s ability to provide an excellent internship experience.
Do you know anyone that might benefit from this real-world experience of simulated testimony and learning under Ana’s guidance? Please consider letting them know about this opportunity or sponsoring them today. See the social media page or check out the informational PDF below.
In order to facilitate the exponential growth of the blog and payment for services I plan to provide through it, I have upgraded the payment structure to work through Stripe. Check out the new system below. Please note that to the extent you are able to justify future payments to me as a business expense, you may do so, this is all above board and reported income.
Please know that my general plans remain unchanged. I will be recovering the next few weeks and updates will likely be sparse. This blog, based on its stats, may have achieved the threshold for major systemic change. This means that regardless of what associations do or do not do, I will likely be able to begin doing things that will achieve my original goals of better reporter pay and treatment, as well as larger revenues for existing stenotype services businesses.
Yesterday, about 0.5% of this field came out in open support for me and nearly 3% of you read about my ordeal without a single negative comment. It is the love and support of my loved ones, including all of you, that will make a recovery possible. I cannot overstate how grateful I am to everyone. In the spirit of passing on the love that has been shown to me, I pledge to donate all of today’s donations equally to National Court Reporters Foundation, Paying It Forward (Allison Hall), Protect Your Record Project, Project Steno, and Open Steno. Next year, by or before February 27th, I will also match the donation made to each of the three today up to $1,000 each. If you want to see me lose $5,000 next year, or if you want to see these wonderful organizations be collectively $10,000 richer next year, help me collect $5,000 today for these amazing endeavors. If 3% of the field were to donate $30, each organization would receive over $5,000 today and an additional $1,000 next year. This is the collective power of stenographers.
*Please note, I will have to deduct combined Stripe/WP fees of approximately 5%. About $200 was donated before I realized that, so I will eat the fee on $200. It would be too cost prohibitive to eat the fee on the thousands of dollars that may be raised from this post.
A little under $800 was donated. $160 has been sent to each organization. An additional $160 will be sent to each next year. Lower than I’d hoped, but not bad for an impromptu fundraiser! Thank you to all of you that made this one possible. Looking forward to going bigger.
This December I have been experiencing an onset of mental illness. I was unaware. I did some terrible things that I can’t take back. I was hospitalized and am now better than ever.
When my thinking finally became clear again, I realized that I had been given a second chance at life. No one was physically hurt, which is great, considering my court family just lost someone this year. I can use this experience to help others.
To anyone I hurt emotionally, lashed out at, or latched onto, I apologize. I did not know I was losing it. Now that I know such a thing is possible, it will never happen again; medical intervention was necessary.
The antitrust conspiracy post will be rewritten to be simple and constructive. Stenonymous will return to its original goal of uplifting the profession. I will take some months off.
A word of caution to those that were rejoicing over my suffering: What does not kill us makes us stronger, and I didn’t die.
A word of advice: If you notice behavioral changes or mood issues, go to the ER. It just might save your life.
For me personally, this is going to be a positive. We now know that even in the event of psychosis I’m nonviolent. Better still, I just created and managed the industry’s largest blog while mentally ill. Now that I am mentally prepared, my life is about to get a lot easier. Years ago, we got NCRA 2.0. Who knew that was possible with people too?
If you’d like a great song for this blog post, check out Poor Jack from Nightmare Before Christmas. It fits incredibly well.
*The initial version of this post was written in a vulgar, ranting, raving, and confusing manner due to a medical episode I was having. Sorry for how that was written. I have scrapped it. It held no creative or intellectual value that cannot be reproduced at a later date. Many of the people I named and cursed at are actually good people that I admire.
See the new version below:
The “conspiracy” is simple. It is very similar to what Purdue Pharma did to healthcare. Lies and misdirection, as well as possible government corruption. I should note that in our case, because the government has not yet investigated to my knowledge, it is hard to tell if we’re seeing tacit parallelism or a fully-planned plot. That said, numbers do not lie, and there are problems with the numbers.
Veritext, US Legal, STTI, and others publish misleading and demonstrably false info. There is likely a baseline assumption that it won’t matter in 10 or 20 years because AI will “take over.”
Our associations, either by design or habit, just keep staying the course. Old tricks don’t work in a new and modern world. I start to change minds with a $10,000 budget and become suspicious of the association management industry. Dave Wenhold, whose intelligence and charisma I openly admire, becomes suspicious to me. This is about where I start to deteriorate. How do I use my media to bring people to associations that shut down new ideas without debate; as NCRA did for Amendment 5 this year? How do I support associations that give responses so boneheaded a six year old could do better? Even my beloved NYSCRA seems intent on crushing new ideas quietly and behind closed doors.
Then, like with Purdue, there is potential government corruption. There is a concept called the revolving door, where someone on behalf of the company catches the ear of a government official and the government official just so happens to do what the company wants. Then the government official retires to a nice new job with the company. So far I’m told California Court Reporter Licensing Board officials have actually done this — which is incredibly suspicious. California may well be the state with the strictest regulations for court reporting. It refuses to regulate digital court reporting. Consumers should probably demand the complete dissolution of the board. It would be like heavily regulating snack foods but refusing to regulate pretzels.
Let’s not forget Arizona, where my public comment was completely ignored by Director Byers, even though I sent him an e-mail well before my personal issues began. Very convenient for AAERT and anyone who thinks courtrooms should be investing in recording equipment.
There are also issues here in New York. It is apparent that members of the public are being told no spots are open and the government is sitting on provisional applications.
I cannot say for sure what we are seeing. I do see a pattern of passive aggressiveness toward court reporters from corporations, associations, and government — a passive aggressiveness that peculiarly fades any time someone questions it.
The antitrust conspiracy may not be an actual conspiracy. But if I was designing a plot to exaggerate and exacerbate the stenographer shortage, it would look exactly like what we are experiencing today.
Last night at about 10:00 p.m., I received an e-mail from Richard Hunt of Barran Liebman LLP about Naegeli. It was a fairly standard legal threat, not that I know what those look like, since I’ve never received one before. If you’re short on time, skip their nonsense and read my reply.
Now, I understand that this kind of thing may have a chilling effect on the free speech I have worked so hard to promote in our industry. I must ask all of you not to be afraid, but to turn to your state and federal legislators and law enforcement. Take this opportunity to share with them what is happening. I will lead by example in defense of our collective futures. I will be brave as I am asking all of you to be.
I’ll assume you’re an honest lawyer roped into this circus by your corporate client. Welcome. Make sure you’re sitting for this one.
This is my show. Defamation is a false statement of fact published to a third party that causes damage. Naegeli’s reputation is so awful that I find it hard to believe there’s anything that could be said that would damage its reputation further. Some of the statements I make are factual, and truth is an affirmative defense to defamation. Beyond that, some of the statements I make are an opinion based on my expertise as a stenographic court reporter for the last 11 and a half years and creator of what is indisputably the largest blog in my industry. You do not have a cause of action and therefore it would be legally wrong for you to file a complaint against me.
You should peruse my blog. I’ve been reporting corporate corruption against much larger corporations than Naegeli. Veritext and US Legal Support appear to be involved in a plot to rig the court reporting and stenotype services industry against consumers/lawyers. What was done to the healthcare industry as portrayed in the series Dopesick about Purdue Pharma is more or less being done to my industry. The difference here is that what is occurring in my industry is what would have happened if one doctor rallied the others to fight the misleading advertising and dishonest behavior. Conceded that the series is a dramatization of the actual events, of course. I have a moral obligation to stop the lies and dishonesty rampant in my field because of the damage this plot will likely do to my profession, its students, minority speakers, and testimony transcript accuracy. Once the public takes note and begins alerting the DOJ, FBI, and FTC as I have, there is virtually no chance the plot will continue. Naegeli’s gouging was such a minor and unrelated part of that, that in my wildest dreams, I couldn’t have imagined this kind of foolish overreaction and strategic blunder. Thank you.
My field is beset by silence and fear. I aim to break this. To achieve this I have become a goal-oriented person. You see, now that Naegeli has threatened to sue through an actual law firm, it’s put itself in a much worse position than anyone could have conceived. Now Naegeli has two choices. It can fail to sue me, and show an entire field of nearly 30,000 court reporters that it is a scared barking dog, which will embolden them. The competition from all of them will become so fierce that it will run the company into the ground. Alternatively, Naegeli could sue. I am quite sure that I can find a valid counterclaim. We can lock each other in for a lawsuit and give this field the show it never knew it needed. It will be the single-largest destruction of capital the industry has ever seen and your client’s reputation will drop even more as court reporters across the nation realize that money could’ve gone into advertising to fix the stenographer shortage. Imagine the backlash. “Yes, I could’ve spent $400 an hour advertising this profession but instead I, Naegeli & Co., have decided the money is better spent stifling Christopher Day’s free speech.”
I know the latter seems like an attractive choice, but it will only expand my audience exponentially and possibly allow me to run daily ads decrying Naegeli’s hatred of free speech and the stenographic free press. I took a personality test recently, and it claimed I was a mediator. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I have come up with a third option. I can use my media personality to completely rehabilitate Naegeli’s reputation. We can sign a contract that Naegeli will use only stenographers and/or voice writers, and will shift their billing model to be the more open and honest “split of invoice” method. I’ll take $100,000 for up to two dozen press releases or media actions in 2022. Together, we will find a way to repair Naegeli’s image in the eyes of the public and court reporters across the nation. We can donate 5% of the contract to NCRF and 5% of the contract to Open Steno to show the field our resolve and unity.
I have about $1,200 to my name and am about $20,000 in debt. You see, the corporations in my field looted it so much by the time I got here that as a young man, I simply didn’t have a fair shot. I let you know that in order to explain that in the event you sue and somehow manage to bribe a judge and/or jury to see things your way, you will have succeeded in little more than obtaining a piece of paper called a judgment that says “you win, congrats.” Meanwhile, the work I am doing will ensure that not a single stenography grad ever has to suffer like that again. If you believe there is any universe where I will back down, there is an ancient stenographic proverb designed just for you.
StenoMasters, the online nonprofit speaking club formed by Joshua Edwards, is using the donation that I pledged at its inaugural meeting to induct seven students for free. Tell a student they can apply today! In my view, by using coaches such as Ana Fatima Costa or TALLsmall, and then using as the club as a safe place to practice, stenographers can become effective public speakers and advocates. Check out Joshua Edwards’s message to students below!
You have a rare chance to earn a free annual StenoMasters membership. Thanks to a generous $1,000 donation from Christopher Day, RPR, we can induct seven students into the club for free for the first year (membership runs through Sept. 30, 2022), a value of $146.
StenoMasters is chartered under Toastmasters International, a 97-year-old organization that has been providing public speaking training and leadership development for people all over the world. Stenographic captioners, reporters, and students all over the country are invited to attend and join. We meet biweekly on Tuesday evenings at 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT online. The next meeting is November 16.
Here are three steps to earn a free membership:
1. Read the FAQs at stenomasters.com to learn more about the club and decide if this interests you. 2. Email Info@StenoMasters.com to express your interest. 3. Show up at the meeting on 11/16.
Warm regards, Joshua Edwards, RDR, CRR StenoMasters Charter member”
From the Protect Your Record TikTok I was alerted to the existence of a December 1986 Caligrams publication from the CCRA. California, at least, was experiencing shortage. We can see that their President at the time seemed to feel that speaking negatively of the profession and failing to promote it were big problems.
Interestingly enough, the shortage of 1986 wasn’t the only one. There was something going on in 1970, as revealed to me by another reader.
Perhaps what has changed is not the viability of our field or the importance of our work, but how we think about it. When we thought of the shortage as a thing to be solved, this profession survived. What happens when we think of our work as something to be improved? What happens when my East Coast friends are not making less than 1991 rates adjusted for inflation? What happens when my West Coast friends are not carrying gigantic accounts receivable and being kept on the work treadmill of survival and collection? This field’s problems would solve themselves in short order because everyone would be talking about it. Become a court reporter! Field would probably double its numbers inside five years. This field gave me so much and I want to make it better for the people entering it today. When you see me write about that stuff, it’s about making sure we’re not training students to be chewed out by companies that don’t have an interest in their professional growth or development.
The only thing that changed in me over time was my willingness to do what needed to be done and say what needed to be said. Some might look at this and say I’m acting against the advice of history here. “You’re not being very cooperative when you use your blog to attack XYZ firm.” No, but it was a different time with different challenges. We did not have a small league of corporations using every ounce of their effort to push the narrative towards “there just aren’t enough stenographers, honest.” Even if we solved the shortage tomorrow, I very much doubt they would stop promoting their alternative version of reality. They haven’t stopped promoting digital despite clear evidence it’s a losing horse.
To expound some, US Legal has made a LinkedIn recruitment blast for digital reporters each day since my last article about the company. They can’t do one for stenographers? They can’t acknowledge that digital is a harmful modality for consumers and workers? Of course they can, they just aren’t. How privileged I am to be the person that gets to raise the alarm. I’ve shown you all how weak the big companies actually are. I come out swinging with words like “fraud” and “attack on minority speakers,” and US Legal can’t be bothered to do anything. Not a cease and desist email, not a phone call, nothing. Maybe they’re afraid I’ll draw on it and blog about that too.
Maybe they should be afraid. It’s not every day someone says to a group of 27,000 “hey, you know this recognizable name in our industry? There’s a good chance they’re lying about your future.” Until I did it, it wasn’t something that was done. Now that that’s done it’s not going to be long before court reporters realize the weakness and silence on the side of digital reporting proponents and everybody starts taking shots. That’s 27,000 people that can say damn near anything supported by the evidence I published over the last month. I become a magnifier and shield for those 27,000. “Chris Day published evidence of fraud.” Why not? US Legal’s already shown its cards. It’s not touching me. When it was your job on the line, “nothing else we can do.” When all the things they can do were dragged in front of them and their hypocrisy was exposed, things got real quiet and they just kept on pushing to recruit digital. That’s called an agenda, a mission, or a deception, and all evidence points to the fact that the agenda has no intention of bowing to reality.
Ducker told us that over the next 12 years a large percentage of this field will likely retire. The next few years, we get to repeat the history of 1970 and 1986. We decide whether to survive or die as a profession. Things are looking good since we come from a long history of “survive.” The corporate line of “simply not enough stenographers” turned out to be an exaggeration or lie. I’ll be doing what I can to recruit and educate. I hope you’ll all join me. We don’t need to wait for the big companies to promote us. We will promote us and watch this field grow over the next decade in opposition to the forecasted decline.
Ana Fatima Costa is presenting a skills workshop tomorrow with Joanna Storey, Esq. It’s going to feature communication tips for attorneys, paralegals, support staff, and court reporters. If you haven’t seen Ms. Costa’s announcement on it, take a look and register now! Thanks to the San Francisco Paralegals Association for putting this on and letting us in! For those of us that missed the September 15 workshop, this is our chance! I’m already registered.
On that same topic of communication, I was also contacted by Kate Nielson and the American Association of University Women. The message was simple: Pay disparity thrives on silence. I wrote to her that a large percentage of our field is female, explained that we are making less than 30 years ago adjusted for inflation, and asked whether she thought we might benefit. Ms Nielson said she’d appreciate me publicizing the event so my audience would be able to join the discussion. If you’re tired of being silent, consider registering now for October 5.
We have so many allies in society. We are not alone, My advice? Jump in! Let Ms. Costa and Ms. Storey talk to you about communication tomorrow; let AAUW talk to you about the importance of breaking silence. Start writing your story. Even if you cannot attend these specific events, get on the mailing list for these associations so that you have a chance to take part in the future.