Social Media Advertising Tips for the Stenographic Legion & More

Occasionally I write about how, in my opinion, if I had a little more money I’d be wiping the floor with the STTI Bloc. I wanted to share a little bit about what I’ve learned over the years, and the story is easy to tell through my Meta Ad account overview.

The lifetime ad spending and impressions of Stenonymous as of February 4, 2023

So, as you can see, that overall CPM was quite high. That’s cost per thousand impressions, or cost per mille. Now that I’m a lot more experienced, I can tell you why that is.

Images can have over 20x the reach of written content. So what happens when I run an image ad?

Stenonymous determined to stop the STTI Bloc’s misinformation steamroller or end up under it.
Stenonymous reveals ad spending for 30 days prior to February 4, 2023
Stenonymous reveals huge drop in CPM after switching to image content.

So what I’ve learned is if we tell our story in pictures and artwork, we will, in all likelihood, have a much easier time of reaching people. I have to face the music. My written content is GREAT for documenting the dishonest behavior of the larger corps. It was not great for REACHING people.

So if you’re someone like a PYRP or an association, and you’re going to do social media advertising for some kind of public outreach campaign, for the love of steno, USE IMAGES.

And now you know that if you give ME money, it’s going to high-impact ads and ideas. I’ve got a few things still cooking that I can’t wait to share with you all.

You also now get to see that your donations were not wasted. Impressions are how many times the ad is on the screen. Reach is the number of unique profiles that saw an ad. Stenonymous has put stenographic media in front of half a million people with your help.

Just to drive the point home, look how different these two ad campaigns turned out. I understand how to reach the highest number of people at the lowest cost now.

Stenonymous compares the cost of image versus written advertising.

There’s an added benefit to supporting Stenonymous. I freely release data and information that makes us all stronger. This goes back to my beliefs about the world. I believe that we are all within the same realm of intelligence (some disabilities excepted) and that distributing information puts us on equal footing to make good choices. I am not like other players on the field that want to trick you for the sake of my wallet. If anything, I trick the people that make their money tricking working reporters.

As for the STTI Bloc, this is basically a war of attrition, their money versus our bodies. If you follow me on social media, you’ll know I was tracking Veritext’s digital ads versus steno ads in my feed for the holiday break. These notes confirmed my suspicion, that they were running digital ads much more often.

Stenonymous tracks digital v steno ads by Veritext December 2022

Veritext alone controls millions of dollars, at least from what we can scrape off Google.

A Google search for Veritext Revenue done by Stenonymous

My math has always been pretty simple. Look at what I’ve done with $10,000 and no previous media experience. We shifted the narrative of the field from “the shortage is impossible to solve” to “okay, that was a lie that none of the multimillion dollar corporations have defended in over a year.” There are about 20,000 – 30,000 stenographers. At a median pay of $60,000, stenographers control at least $1.2 billion annually. If they tossed me 0.2% of their income for one year, it’d be like a million dollars. Some of you have given way more than that 0.2%, so I don’t condone you shelling out of your pocket.

But this goes back to my point. We could pound on these idiots every single day for ages with that kind of money. NCRA asks you for about $300 a year. I’m asking for, more or less, $100 for one year, depending on how many people we could get behind a fundraising campaign. Granted, NCRA has expenses and programs I will never have, but I can do things that NCRA can never do. NCRA can never use its considerable market power to hound the fraudsters. There are honest antitrust concerns. Meanwhile, any attempt to bring me to court for the same reason would be laughed out of court because I’m a guy with a blog. I figured all this out in my spare time. I don’t have a Jesus complex, I just realize that we’re up against dirty players, and I’m willing to hit back way harder than they ever thought possible. Good luck hiring digital reporters while someone’s running 24/7 ads about digital being a scam.

That said, if I can’t get the money raised, maybe we could get a letter writing campaign going and flood a few media outlets with a few thousand letters about the shortage fraud. Force them to acknowledge us. Start making noise. I could see many people being hesitant to “go fund me,” but would those same people take the time to copy and paste a letter, press print, and mail it out? I think so.

Stenonymous visitors up for the first time since the massive funding campaign of 2021.

I’ve literally turned screwing with fraudsters into a business. Back me and you’ll see a return. Might come off like a grift, but money is just a means to an end, and that end being us all getting back to work and not worrying about being replaced by inferior technology. But whether or not you do support me, I hope the advertising tip helped.

And just in case you don’t think I’m under the skin of these fools, check out an excerpt from an email exchange I had with Mike McDonner of Kentuckiana. He was able to recount word for word every single thing that happened during my medical episode about a year ago after I got that post about me from India taken down.

Mike McDonner from Kentuckiana feigns concern for Christopher Day in 2022, tipping us all off that the STTI Bloc reads the blog and monitors my YouTube.
Christopher Day (Stenonymous) replies to Mike McDonner (Kentuckiana)

Let me ask you this: What kind of monsters run a hit piece on someone who just had a major health crisis?

The kind that are terrified of Stenonymous.

PSA: Why Realtimers Need to Defend Non-Realtimers

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.”

TKPWHRUBG

Advantage Software’s Digital Lean…

I was pretty down on Stenograph for its heavy jump into digital court reporting, among other things. A reader submitted for my consideration this announcement of a partnership between LegalCraft / LEXEL and VIQ Solutions, the parent company of Net Transcripts and other digital-ish initiatives. Who’s LEXEL partnered with?

Advantage Software partnered with LEXEL.

Advantage Software will also be an exhibitor at AAERT 2023.

Perhaps the main lesson stenographers can learn from this is to withdraw trust from businesses. Corporations are basically wealth extraction machines. They don’t have loyalty. They want dollars. They all see the money being poured on digital and they want in.

Unlike Stenograph, I have not heard of Advantage’s support quality declining yet, so that’s a positive. But if you were someone like me that was thinking Advantage was squarely on the side of steno, then this was probably informative for you.

For the record, VIQ Solutions was mentioned on this blog a while back. It continues to bleed money while its stock declines, but that doesn’t seem to have stopped anyone from believing that dIgItAl iS tHe fUtUre.

VIQ Solutions stock price falling
VIQ Solutions Net Income of nearly negative $20M
VIQ Solutions propped up by financing?

Guess Who Was In Indiana Earlier This Year…

There’s been quite a bit of speculation as to who or what might be behind the proposed ban of stenography from Indiana courts. One reader provided a hunch. As it turns out, Steve Townsend’s TheRecordXchange was down in Marion County Courts making friends.

TheRecordXchange posts about a partnership with Marion County courts just prior to the revelation that there was a proposed ban on stenography in Indiana courts.

Now, I should note there’s no real direct proof that Townsend or TheRecordXchange were the driving force behind the ban proposal. But it’s a neat coincidence that they’re making inroads there right around the time such a rule change was proposed.

Maybe our problem is we’re not hungry enough. We sat on our superiority and rode it as far as we could ride it. These folks have been systematically making friends and pushing on our territory for years. I admire the sheer determination and business sense. I weep for us if we can’t get our act together and push back. Our collective resources are leagues ahead of anyone else. We should be able to do it. Apathy’s the only thing holding us back.

But will it much longer?

How Big Business Wielded Antitrust Against Working People & How To Fight Back

Private equity’s incursion into medicine, court reporting, and beyond is about siphoning more of the ecosystem to its control because control makes more money, regardless of the societal consequences. If it truly had a better product, there would be no need for subterfuge. The future belongs to reporters. Together we can give a voice to the principles of accuracy and integrity we hold dear.

Veritext and Esquire brought antitrust suits that seemingly were consolidated against the Louisiana Board of Examiners of Certified Court Reporters. The complaint and settlement agreement can be found on the board’s website. The rules of this game should now be pretty clear. Where court reporters get laws enacted and there are attempts to enforce those laws, lawsuits will follow to wear down the will to enforce the law. Where court reporters fight to enact laws, the multimillion dollar corporations will have more money to lobby government and probably buy our lobbyists too. Where court reporters have laws that go unenforced, the multimillion dollar corporations get to corner and control the market oligopoly style while the government keeps the court reporters in check. Meanwhile, associations are hamstrung by the legal liability of being “competitor collectives.” I’ve only ever said what we’re all thinking: This game is rigged. That is not to say the lawsuit wasn’t meritorious, but then the law isn’t always just.

This situation is not without hope. Over the years I’ve read and written about employee misclassification. Things vary a little bit from place to place, but my understanding of the law is it doesn’t matter what the “employer” and worker call the relationship, a worker can still be found to be a common law employee for purposes of unemployment, workers compensation, Title VII, taxes, or other American rights, like the right to unionize. There’s a form SS-8 from the IRS for determining worker status. There are also DOL complaints. Of course, any one reporter could be singled out and retaliated against, so the key would be for a group of reporters from a similar geographic area / regional office to file, make the case that they are common law employees, and then get a petition going to start a union, preferably with the help of a lawyer.

This kind of organization isn’t easy, but it seems necessary. We face a de facto silencing as the multimillion dollar corporations continue broadcasting digital court reporter jobs and minimizing our online presence with articles about our “impossible” shortage.

Digital court reporting proponents mislead jobseekers by not educating them on the actual state of the industry. From Reddit r/courtreporting.

Just some of the things reporters could collectively bargain for are the right to refuse jobs, the right to work from home, equipment reimbursement, support contract reimbursement, higher pay or page rates, stenography training funds for digitals, staffing ratios of stenographers to digitals, paid association dues for court reporters, severance pay, paid leave, or even some retraining money in the event there is a major technological breakthrough that makes us redundant, which is unlikely. If the big box claims it can’t pay, it may have to open its books to the union.

There are good arguments for court reporters being misclassified under the law. Top of the list is that these businesses couldn’t exist without their independent contractors. Our businesses are not independent of theirs, our business is their business. Where there are ABC laws in place, the independent contractor is (A), free from direction and control in performing the work. A lot of us really aren’t. We’re forced to use a certain layout. Many of us aren’t allowed to subcontract jobs. The agency picks what they want to offer us. We don’t meet their terms, we don’t get the work. (B), the work takes place outside the usual business of the company and off the site of the business. I would love for these companies to defend themselves by saying court reporting businesses are not in the business of court reporting. (C), the worker customarily is engaged in an independent trade, occupation, profession, or business. This is where a lot of us are true independent contractors who have business with multiple firms or even lawyer clients. But for those that are working with the same company for years, as I did with Magna, there’s a real argument that they’re not engaged in independent anything.

Myths of misclassification by the Department of Labor.

In New York this is even muddier. The Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court, looked at who controlled the customer and assignments in the Postmates decision. Some of the things looked at there? Postmates (1), determined which couriers had access to which assignment. Sound familiar? (2), set the delivery fee charged to customers. In New York, at least, the agencies definitely decide the fees. (3), paid couriers a non-negotiable percentage of the delivery fee. Some agencies allow negotiation and some set rates. Some do both. (4), took on the risk of loss by paying couriers for deliveries regardless of whether the customer paid. Again, something that happens routinely in our business. (5), paid a portion of the couriers’ business expenses through prepaid debit cards. (6), did not permit customers to select specific couriers for deliveries on its platform. Lawyers can request us, but only if they know about us. We are effectively “hidden.” Even then, the agency decides whether or not to send us. (7), tracked the courier’s location and provided customers with estimated delivery times on its platform. Agencies occasionally attempt to put out rules like arriving 30 minutes early and so on. (8), assumed responsibility for replacing couriers who became unavailable after accepting a delivery. Agencies do this. (9), handled customer complaints and in some cases retained liability to customers for incorrect or damaged deliveries. One agency in New York has actually had reporters handle customer complaints after the Postmates decision according to a freelancer source, so there may be a shift here, but prior to the Postmates decision agencies generally handled customer complaints. As you can see, those of us with independent business or work from multiple sources may not qualify, but there’s ground to argue.

As individuals, we hold an advantage over organizations. We can make decisions and enact change much faster. Other court reporters have prodded at the issue, and it was enough to prompt talk of settlement.

Halbert et al v Atkinson-Baker Inc class action settlement notice raising a misclassification issue. Docket Alarm link to case.

We have a fairly predictable ethos in court reporting of clinging to our freelance title. That title actively robs us of our right to speak to each other on the issues that matter. It steals away the rights that most court reporters would have if properly classified under law that you just read with your own eyes and/or screen readers. Agencies understand court reporter culture and our lean towards tradition. They not only know the game, but how we react to the game. Who would continue to play a game knowing that it is rigged? If your opponent had a copy of all the moves you were going to make in a chess game, would you keep following the script? Stenographers should lead the movement and we have the best shot at altering the script. If digitals beat us to it, it’ll probably be the other way with contracts favorable to expanding digital.

It’s a question of whether we fight back in the name of ethics, accuracy, and the future careers of the students we’re training today, or whether we lay down and let private equity eat the industry ecosystem for the benefit of its bank account. The heart of what I’m doing is educating working people that things aren’t always as they’re said to be.

DOL Communication to Christopher Day
DOL Communication to Christopher Day

I find it funny that digital court reporting proponents like Veritext have antitrust concerns while they work together to lead the organization that was publishing fraudulent / misleading statistics apparently meant to manipulate a market.

Speech-to-Text Institute leadership primarily consists of digital court reporting proponent organizations. STTI is the organization that pushed misleading statistics to consumers and jobseekers.
Speech-to-Text Institute leadership primarily consists of digital court reporting proponent organizations. STTI is the organization that pushed misleading statistics to consumers and jobseekers.
Speech-to-Text Institute leadership primarily consists of digital court reporting proponent organizations. STTI is the organization that pushed misleading statistics to consumers and jobseekers.

A few thousand dollars and we shifted the narrative from impossible shortage to scumbag corporations tricking honest people. If you think I’m wrong on this, just look at my long history of running the corporations ragged with a minuscule fraction of the resources they have. They understand us? I understand them. And reporters talking about this post is their worst nightmare.

How To Stop Corporate Fraud in Court Reporting by Joe Gratton

The following was written by Joe Gratton for the Stenonymous blog, mostly unedited:

There’s currently ongoing and blatant corporate fraud in the court reporting industry. Yet many industry professionals remain unaware and unconcerned about the danger posed by companies deliberately exaggerating the court reporter shortage to espouse the benefits of digital court reporting as if the two services are somehow equivalent.

The companies that have tacitly colluded under the umbrella of the non-profit Speech-to-Text Institute (STTI) are engaging in deceptive practices by spreading misinformation about the cost, quality, and validity of digital court reporting services.

With little to no oversight by courts or government agencies, these companies are getting away with it. However, there are steps stenographers, lawyers, and other affected parties can undertake to ensure justice is served and the court reporting profession is protected from further subversion.  

Background to the Corporate Fraud Currently Occurring in the Court Reporting Profession

It’s worthwhile spending a few moments elucidating the circumstances that have allowed corporate fraud to occur unchecked thus far. 

It’s essential to start by explaining that, yes, there are court reporter shortages within the United States – primarily due to retirement. However, these shortages are minimal and localized. Moreover, these minor shortages are increasingly offset by excellent recruitment initiatives led by National Court Reporters A to Z, Project Steno, Open Steno, and other worthy organizations. 

The companies launching spurious claims that the shortage can’t possibly be filled with more stenographers (and, therefore, should be replaced with the vastly inferior practice of digital court reporting) base their assumptions on the deeply-flawed Ducker Report of 2013-14, which stated that 70% of court reporters would retire over the next 20 years (2013-2033). 

Not only is the report now rapidly approaching ten years since publication (significantly undermining its relevance), but those predictions were based on, wait for it, interviews with 120 industry professionals from in and around the industry. Even with some “proprietary data analysis” thrown in from Ducker, how anyone can profess that there’s currently a potentially industry-ending court reporter shortage based on such flimsy evidence is anyone’s guess.

Worse, when reviewing objective industry data, there are around 27,000 court reporters still active within the profession. How many were there in 2013, the year of the Ducker Report? 21,000. The predicted retirement cliff must be getting taller every day since stenographer numbers are still trending upward ten years later. 

And yet, companies such as Veritext, US Legal, and others have happily used these terribly inaccurate extrapolations to make even worse predictions about stenography’s future. 

For instance, they have gone on the record to claim the industry requires 82,000 stenography training program enrollments annually (based on a 10% graduation rate) to plug the self-proclaimed shortfall. Yet this figure would quadruple the size of the entire court reporter industry today and increase the pool of available court reporters to six times that of 2014, the year the so-called “shortfall crisis” started. 

With wildly incorrect and baseless predictions like these, it’s easy to see why those with only the most tenuous of links to the legal profession are raising eyebrows at how some of these court reporting companies are getting away with blatantly misleading the public for so long. 

Why Corporate Fraud in Court Reporting Continues Today

There’s a pretty obvious reason these companies keep promoting and disseminating their misleading and inaccurate claims: there’s a lot of money to be made.

Stenography is skilled labor and is remunerated as such (some might say underpaid). For someone to type at a rate of 225+ words per minute with an accuracy rate of 99.8% takes years of training and dedication. Stenographic writing is closer to playing the piano than typing on a keyboard. It takes at least two years in a stenography training program, state licensure, and professional certification. 

Digital court reporter training lasts six months, with most of that time spent learning how to take accurate notes and operate sound and video equipment. That’s it. 

In short, these companies want to replace those hard-earned skills with technology so they can charge less for their services and make huge profit margins while doing so. With audio and video equipment in place, digital court reporters merely make sure the equipment is working and note key pieces of testimony.

The companies in question want to mislead the world into thinking that digital court reporting does the same work as traditional court reporting. But once again, the objective facts of the profession paint a different picture.

Automated Speech Recognition (ASR) software delivers a dreadful 25%-80% accuracy rate, and non-stenographers transcribe English dialects such as African American Vernacular English (AAVE) at a rate half as accurate as court reporters. These are merely two of dozens of damning examples showing that digital court reporting cannot replace standard court reporting. 

And yet the two are conflated as one and the same on a daily basis by those that stand to profit most from doing so.  

How they have been allowed to for so long somewhat beggars belief. 

It seems that, thus far, the courts and government agencies tasked with protecting the public from fraudsters and con artists seem unwilling or unable to act.

So can change be instigated? How can those being hurt by these misleading and fraudulent claims take action?

How to Fight Corporate Fraud in Court Reporting 

The simple answer is to fight back. The very tactics companies use to mislead the public can be used against them. They are so brazen and demonstrably false that they are easy to report to the appropriate authorities. 

Report Antitrust, False Advertising, or Deceptive Business Practices to the State Attorney General

Where applicable, it makes sense to refer complaints about deceptive practices and patently false advertising to the relevant state attorney general. Not only will they have a more precise understanding of the misrepresentation at hand (being lawyers themselves) than government agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), but state attorney generals have the legal power to act against such companies.

Their purview, among other responsibilities, includes enforcing their given state’s consumer protection laws. Given the flagrant breaches occurring, including false advertising, tacit collusion, and deceptive marketing practices, it would be entirely reasonable to expect that they can take action against these corporate fraudsters if made aware. 

Report Antitrust Violations and False Advertising to Federal Trade Commission

Given the attempts by the STTI to falsely create a market problem and sell the solution (digital court reporting), it’s worth reporting any antitrust or false advertising violations to the FTC.

Not only have they already pledged to protect gig workers from unfair, deceptive, and anticompetitive practices, but they have specifically stated they will also investigate exclusionary or predatory conduct that could cause harm to customers or reduced compensation, or poorer working conditions for gig workers.

Given the practices of these companies harms both customers (by giving the false illusion of equivalency between standard and digital court reporting and deceptively exaggerating the court report shortage) and the 70% of court reporters that work as independent contractors, the FTC should at the very least investigate these practices.  

Sending Information to Local and Corporate News Outlets

Sometimes the only way to draw attention to a problem is to throw a spotlight on it. By writing emails to editors of local newspapers or contacting local TV stations and radio stations, it’s possible to make clients aware of the deceptive practices and have them contact the relevant authorities and regulators to demand action. 

At the very least, it may be that these fraudulent operators have to answer very direct questions regarding their business practices. With the glare of a significant readership or viewership, they may squirm under the pressure and be forced into providing evidence and documentation that doesn’t actually support their statements. 

Contact Local Elected Officials

Another option for stopping corporate fraud on this scale is contacting elected local officials at either state legislature or county levels. 

Not only do they have the power to pass laws that protect consumers from unfair or deceptive trade practices, but they also have a direct line to the government agencies tasked with enforcing those laws, such as the FTC and state attorney general. 

Once again, those with the power to act can’t do so if they are ignorant of the problem in the first place. Only by publicizing these fraudulent practices can lawmakers and regulators be forced to act. 

Court Reporting is Under Attack from Those Standing to Benefit from Its Demise: It’s Time to Act

There’s no question that the court reporter shortage has been leapt upon by companies such as Veritext, US Legal, Planet Depos, and other members of the STTI as an opportunity to cash in on the digital court reporting market.

By replacing incredibly skilled labor with unskilled and automated digital transcription, they persist in attempting to convince law firms, courts, and even government agencies that digital court reporting is a viable replacement. 

The statistics speak for themselves on that front.

However, it’s the hyperbolic claims being made and the outright lies being spread about the court reporting industry in the name of corporate greed that are truly egregious. It’s naked corporate fraud that is only being further enabled by the willful ignorance of many lawmakers and regulators tasked with protecting consumers from unfair and deceptive trade practices.  

Thus, the onus is now on those willing to stand up for justice to take action using some, if not all, of the avenues mentioned above.

Hopefully, with coordinated and concerted action, there can be an end to the rampant corporate fraud taking place within the court reporting and stenography profession.   

Author: Joe Gratton
Bio: Joe Gratton is a professional writer who has worked with a number of legal firms in the United States, covering topics including court reporting, legal videography, electronic discovery (e-Discovery), and trial presentation services. 

A Puppet Explains Stenonymous and Court Reporting. Seriously!?

More court reporting content for the masses. With more support from stenographers like you, we’ll be moving onto bigger and better things. But if this is entertaining for you, consider dropping me a dollar using the front page of Stenonymous.com.

According to available statistics, court reporters pull in at least $1.2 billion a year across the industry. A fraction of that would supercharge my content creation. With more support I’ll be able to figuratively grind the STTI Bloc into paste. If you ever get tired of playing defense, consider cutting me loose and watching me work.

Finally, Another Song About Stenography

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!

Veritext Seeking Videos to Promote Steno

Veritext announced that it is accepting videos promoting steno. Film a video of yourself with your machine and say “I am a court reporter.” Sample ideas are available.

Veritext calls for videos to promote steno

The “get started” button leads here.

I don’t want to be too disparaging. One of my primary gripes has been the very lopsided promotion of digital, and if they’re doing something positive for us, it should go forward. No doubt, good job, Veritext. Thanks for spending the time and money to do this. I mean that.

I must remind reporters, though, that this is a clear indication that the Speech-to-Text Institute, associated with Veritext’s Adam Friend, lied when it said the stenographer shortage was impossible to solve. If our shortage was impossible to solve, Veritext would have zero incentive to continue to attract anyone to the field. It would, in fact, be heartless to lure people into a dying field. This supports my claim that our field is not dying, and that any decline is reversible. The numbers support this to the extent they exist.

I am ecstatic that Veritext is doing something positive. It doesn’t really negate the fact that they have been advertising for digital reporters on LinkedIn for over a year that I’ve been monitoring it. That means every day spamming jobseekers with digital, digital, digital. So to make a video and release that and share it is nice, but it’s not quite the same impact on the market in my estimation. Maybe I will be wrong. Hopefully I will be wrong. Advertising stenography now gives us the people we’ll need later. Timing and enthusiasm matters. And the timing of this is a little odd. We’re being deleted in Indiana. Has Veritext made a comment to the court about that like many of us have?

If I were Veritext, I’d claim that this video initiative helped solve the shortage and throw Cudahy’s math under the bus. It’d be a smart move for them. They get to be the heroes and cast doubt on Stenonymous in one swift move.

I’ll be submitting a video. I encourage others to if they have the time. While I am suspicious of Veritext’s motives at the top of their corporate structure, most of the people that work below them are going to be decent people. When I submitted something to their reporter corner years ago, it got featured. This is to say I don’t believe videos will be misused in any way. I really believe they’ll do exactly what they’re proposing to do here, and I think it’ll be great.

I just hope there’s more, and that this is not a one-off before they return to burying us.

Propaganda Guide for the Smart Steno Consumer

For those of you that haven’t read up on propaganda and persuasion techniques, you still probably won’t be too surprised to know that leaders, corporations, and all manner of people try to exert control. This usually isn’t done by direct threat or force, but by persuasion. Advertising, to some extent, can be propaganda. Networks of influencers are the modern machine that keep people scrolling. There are innumerable ways that forces we don’t even think about are trying to get in our heads. I confess that I, too, use some of the techniques I’m about to talk about. But that’s the point, if the consumer is aware, then they can make better choices. I am going to be stepping up my media game this year. You’ve all got to be ready.

Types of Propaganda:

Bandwagon Propaganda.

As humans we generally have a desire or drive to fit in. We’re interested in what’s trending for these reasons. When someone is trying to convince you that everyone else is doing it, they might be propagandizing you. In court reporting this is fairly common, software vendors will try to convince you to get on the new thing because everyone is getting on the new thing, but really they just need you buying equipment to feed the economic engines.

Card Stacking Propaganda.

This is about mentioning the positives without the negatives. Stacking all those positive cards on top of each other so that you don’t look at the negatives underneath. To be fair, this is actually a presentation technique and life tip, and I use it often, so I can’t knock it.

Plain Folk Propaganda.

This form of propaganda deals with displaying regular, relatable people and faces in advertising. It can kind of tie into the idea that “normal people” use a product or service being pitched.

Testimonial Propaganda.

This is about getting popular or famous people to pitch a product or service and is viewed as the opposite of plain folk propaganda. This tries to display people you look up to using a product or service so that you use it too.

Glittering Generality Propaganda.

This is when they use corporate speak that doesn’t really mean anything. Things like “we’ll be there for you” or “on your side.” Things that make you feel good, but don’t really convey a message or promise.

Name Calling Propaganda.

This is pretty rare in the corporate world, which is why I use it. This is exactly what it sounds like. Characterizing people. Calling people names. A fraud, a fake, a liar. It’s nasty stuff. I think my first use of this was when I called Frank N Sense a monster. Still kind of a monster. They posted that the NCRA board should resign. I honestly can’t agree. The NCRA board has the profession’s best interests at heart. Everybody has to follow through with what they know and believe in their hearts. It’s going to be just a little different for each of us. But I think they’re doing a damn good job this year and last. But anyway, name calling, yeah.

Transfer Propaganda.

This is when the propagandist uses something they believe will resonate with you in their messaging. Things like using a person’s religion to sell them things, or as I’ve said from our field, the “democratization of technology.” Most people like democracy, right? Transfer propaganda! If they’re using a vague concept related to something you love, it might be a flag.

Ad Nauseam Propaganda.

This is about messaging. Constant messaging so that you remember the brand. When I’m feeling healthy, I’m a little guilty of this, because I can write a lot more.

Stereotyping & Appeal to Prejudice Propaganda.

This is a big one. Pretty much every major player on the field is using this one against court reporters right now. We all have certain beliefs about digital reporters. We saw it when Verbit called them low skill. We see it when it’s used as a motivator to get people engaging with associations. We see corporations using it to eradicate us, pretending we’re obsolete because that’s our stereotype. The bottom line is that these players understand you. They understand how you think and what you like and don’t like. They understand how you feel about yourself. They’re going to be thinking about how to extract more money from you using that information. This was also effectively used to divide reporters, because for the last decade we were all on this “realtime is the future, everyone must tech up” drive, getting down on people who didn’t play the tech consumer game, and then when everybody sold enough equipment and training there, they packed up and went digital. This is why I have identified group think as dangerous to the profession. If they know us too well, they can manipulate more dollars out of us without giving us enough benefit.

Appeal to Fear Propaganda.

This is about using fear to get people to do things. It can be a product meant to alleviate a fear built up through advertising or it can be, in my opinion, putting you in a position of fear. On the topic of fear build up through advertising, Stenograph did this when it did its keyless drive. Gotta go keyless! Gotta buy the next thing! Gotta buy the new machine! We can all respect making money, but at a certain point, it’s just unnecessary oversaturation of the market. In terms of putting you in a position of fear, companies are doing it right now every day. They’re showing that they’re resolved to expand and switch to digital. They’re pressuring reporters to go digital, and conveniently buy their training and equipment. I think I’ve said this before, but if someone is scaring you, you might be getting propagandized.

Now You Know

When you start looking for these things, you will find them. We will all, one time or another, fall victim to propaganda. Sometimes it’s for a cause we really believe in. Sometimes it’s something we don’t really need in our lives. Sometimes it is the more comforting thing to allow ourselves to be propagandized.

Now, I should clarify, when I use these techniques, I do so for advancing truth and knowledge. All I have documented has been my honest perspective and recording. But in the end, people read and donate because it’s interesting, not because it’s honest. So if you catch me using some media tricks, it’s about keeping it interesting.

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