MGR Interviewed on the Treatment of Reporters

This month I had a chance to sit down with Marc Russo of MGR Reporting. Marc’s a working reporter and business owner. We got to hit a lot of topics in this video, including Marc’s history in the field, how reporter skill relates to reporter treatment, and how scheduling ahead can help reporting firms fill their clients’ needs.

Using Marc’s words, it’s about treating reporters like people instead of numbers.

Don’t take my word for it, check out the interview here!

Stenographers, Planet Depos Is Not Your Friend

Previously on Not Your Friend, we had our very good friends Veritext and US Legal. Today we make an entry for Planet Depos. There’s really not much to say about them specifically. They’ve been using digitals a while, and it seemed superfluous to write about. There are entire Facebook groups dedicated on social media to watching out for this kind of stuff. Where it might take one person a year and a day to find the information and get it out to a large audience, in these groups news travels fast. So if you’re not connected to something like a Protect Your Record group or a DR Watchdogs group, get connected today, or friend someone who is connected. There have been discussions of agencies that are doing this sort of thing, and discussions of how to advocate for our field and stenography.

What can we say? Veritext is still busy seeking digitals in New York City, which is about as close to stenographic fortress as you’ll ever get. PD is doing it in their markets. There are a whole bunch of companies that we were relying on to stay steno, or that were relying on us to do the good work we do every day. That’s changing. What happened? We can blame ourselves, as we often do, and say it’s something to do with our skills or habits. We can blame them, throw our hands up and say this is the end. Or we can take control of the situation. We can embrace that victory is cumulative. We can understand that there won’t be one single defining moment where someone wins or loses. What happens in a year or ten is settled on what we do every day up to that point.

I know my plan. The first step is to really get the news out that this is what’s happening. Next up, information dispersal. As we start revealing how the market works and what’s being charged, the information will be out there for everyone, and consequently, more people will compete directly. Keep in mind recruitment ideas so that the shortage doesn’t beat us via attrition.

I’ll be publishing rate sheets, client lists, whatever I find and wherever it’s leaked. Many others have taken up advocating for us on a larger stage at attorney, paralegal, and “big law” events. These are not new ideas, but the strategies at play are clear winners. Look how Veritext crumpled at the first sign of stenographers rejecting their new direction and subsequently tried dumping some money on steno to make things better. Imagine a world where there’s any sustained effort to expose shoddy business practices and compete. They just might start their own school program!

We can’t guarantee victory. The catch there is they can’t guarantee it either. And if these companies have stiff competition, there’s a good chance they’ll fall in line and use stenography in every market where it’s viable to use stenography. There’s also a good chance that if those companies don’t fall in line, they’ll go under. With websites like Owler saying Veritext has an annual revenue of 300 million, or Planet Depos an annual revenue of 4 million, and with the cold hard truth that large companies with annual revenue in the billions, like Sears, can cascade into ruin, the truth is out there. Competitors are a market force. Labor is a market force. No matter which you view us as, we have real power. Use that power, and a big box can find itself in the recycling bin.

1/13/2020 Edit.

I am made aware of Planet Institute, a mentorship program ostensibly owned and operated by Planet Depos LLC and registered by Planet Depos under the WHOIS lookup. Notably, its registration predates this article by nearly a thousand days. As always, I encourage agencies taking the jump into advocating for court reporting, specifically stenography. Every dollar spent on steno is valuable and important. In my view, every company can easily turn the ship around, get off the digital craze, and grow some value for shareholders by making stenography training and mentorship their focus. That said, I mention this out of commitment to intellectual honesty more than actual belief that PD will come out as a pro-steno player. As always, happy to be proven wrong and watch them come out as a consistent pro-steno advocate.

The Impossible Institute

Let me set the timeline for everybody. It’s 2008. Schools are seeing some pretty nice numbers, maybe 60 a trimester where I was. Court reporting steno schools are saying this is a timeless, guaranteed profession. Obsolescence is impossible and there will always be tons of work. 2010 comes along, and my class of reporters is told by the market there’s no work. There’s a glut. Too many reporters, not enough work. We’ll start you at what they made in 1991 because we’re such benevolent people. And by the way, rate increase is impossible. By 2014, there’s news of a shortage incoming. and by 2018, the shortage is in full swing, and even here in New York, where you had agencies like Diamond not paying their people copies, unless they really liked them, they started paying copies to a larger percentage of their reporters. That was after almost a decade of such a terrible cost to the agency being deemed impossible. Thanks, partner.

So it’s interesting whenever someone tells me something can’t happen, won’t happen, or is impossible. It’s equally interesting when someone comes out with an authoritative and definite prediction, that something must happen. So I briefly reviewed some materials out of STTI, the new mouthpiece of the anti-steno business coalition. Completely ignoring the resurgence of American stenography and my series of ten shortage solutions, the STI says crunch the numbers, it’s impossible for schools to meet the forecasted shortage of 8,000 reporters by 2020. Well, maybe, when we go by the information from 2013, it seems unlikely. But when you can log into the Open Steno Discord and see almost 100 people online on a Saturday morning in 2019, and you can see for yourself the constant efforts of A to Z, Project Steno, and private schools, it seems like these so-called experts have little more than a BA in BS.

Don’t take it from me, look at their own words. They try to pin the blame on NCRA for not adopting voice writing wholesale. But what kind of argument is that? Voice writing has been around since World War II, but the NCRA didn’t adopt it, so now it’s too late, digital wins. If anything, that tells me that if the NCRA doesn’t adopt it, it doesn’t fly. If we, the stenographers in the marketplace today, do not accept your inferior methodology, and keep marketing ourselves, we stay on top. If they’re so sure that these steno-centric programs won’t work, why bother saying they cannot win? Simple. They’re guarding an empty city. If they get you to give up recruiting, educating, and empowering your fellow reporters, the market’s open for them to come in and pick up the pieces. You decide whether that happens. Are you going to let five people scare off 20,000 of you?

Look no further than their straw man future predictions to see how weak their argument is. What will the market look like in 2039? What will happen in 20 years? You don’t know. Nobody knows. So when the “experts” tell you what’ll happen, they hope it’ll give you a sense of security, and you’ll act or fail to act, and become a participant in their version of the future. That’s how that works. It’s an echo chamber claiming steno will fail in the hopes that that’s how things roll. Are you going to fall for it?

I’m generally not going to cover the STI too much on this blog. Who wants to give clicks to a cherry picking propaganda outfit? But look at the beginning of this post again. Look at all the people who made claims that turned out to be untrue. I’ll give you one more. In 2017, I was told more or less not to bother with this blog because nobody would read it or find what I had to say credible. It was impossible. This year I had 13,000 views and 6,000 visitors. Here’s a prediction. You can do that. You can do anything you’ve got motivation for. And you can do it a heck of a lot better than the experts. I’d say the people out there working every day are the experts. To wrap this up, let’s just say that if someone is telling you that something is impossible, or that something is definitely going to happen, you want to look at their motives before you buy in. Last question. What’s your next move?

Shortage Solutions 10: Contract or Employment

Can you believe this blog has covered 10 ideas for addressing the shortage? Time flies. Having given the whole court reporting shortage issue some more brainstorming, it’s worth bringing up for discussion the solutions that will follow. As always, happy to have comment on this issue. First, contractual agreements. In the field today, many reporters work under a verbal agreement, or a very informal email or rate sheet agreement. Even in places where independent contractors are required to have contracts, much of the business is contracted verbally or less formally.

Anecdotally, there’s something respectable about putting things in writing. People are more likely to live up to their word when there are clear terms of engagement. Need a freelancer to be on call to cover? Get it in writing. Throw them a little consideration (money) for their availability. Create easy-to-understand terms and expectations on availability. Create fair and realistic penalties for breach of contract on either side, or remedial terms that both sides can live with.

That lets me move on to another thought process. There is nothing in US law, to my knowledge, that prohibits a company from hiring employees and paying them a per-page commission or per diem rate. Pretty much no reporter makes less than minimum wage, so compliance with minimum wage laws is trivial. What is stopping a company from shifting its workforce from 1099 reporters to employees? Nothing. Nothing but a different set of paperwork and some accounting changes. Compliance with workers compensation laws may need a little creative insuring to allow reporters to transcribe from home if they choose to give employees that option. But this does not seem like an impossibility, merely a challenge for the entrepreneurial to overcome.

Why these solutions? Frankly, one of the issues with shortage boils down to the inconsistency of freelance reporting. If reporting firms nail down some availability, via employment contract or independently-contracted agreement, they can have a more realistic idea of how many reporters they have versus how many they need. Businesses survive and thrive off of mastering their staffing needs. Reporting businesses will be no different, and in the end will rise and fall based on their ability to meet demand. In this case, the demand being the service that so many stenographic reporters are ready, willing, and able to provide.

Can’t Outspend? Outsell.

When many of us were in school we were given a line, steno sells itself. Many of us can probably relate to that. Most steno companies, upon hearing you’re a professional stenographer, will give you a shot. Many of us in New York came out during a big slump (2010) where steno wasn’t selling itself, but even then, it was trivial to get work. All we had to do was say we’d been working three months, and “they’d” go from sorry no work for you to “oh, here are the keys to the kingdom.” Not all of us knew it, but that’s how it was. Agency owners are good at reading confidence, and what we’re offered is often linked directly to our confidence level.

Of course, the following may be an incorrect assumption on my part, but bear with me: We have entered an era where steno is not selling itself. Company owners are being pulled into the mindset that the voice recognition is “good enough,” and some of the major players, like Veritext, have been pushing recording.

I should note, in full disclosure, that I have not been able to corroborate what I’m about to say with documents or pictures as I usually do. It’s pulled from the social media sphere, so consider it anecdotal for now, and do not be surprised if agencies start railing against social media. Even as some claim that Veritext sent an email stating they were not using recording in states like New Jersey, others have come forward across social media to say yes, this is being done behind our backs. Many of us are reportedly asking lawyers what they’re seeing, and they are seeing digital getting peddled to them relentlessly.

So what do we do when we have major players putting their resources into our replacement? Who here thinks they have more money that Veritext or their owners? Hopeless, some would say. But there is something that many reporters are realizing: This alleged shortage is a great time get private clients and begin new businesses. If Veritext or some entity swears they can’t get a stenographer, some lawyers have allegedly called their insurers and gotten authorization to use a local stenographer or stenographic firm. All their marketing moves and salespeople count for nothing if a stenographer finds themselves in the right place at the right time.

We’re the boots on the ground. We have more contact with law office staff and employees. We have the keys to the kingdom. But the people at the top have made it very clear that they’ll do whatever is convenient for them. It’s time we do the same for the survival of our industry. We don’t work for them? Try it. It might just give us access to their clients. We work for them? Guess who already has access.

Even if we don’t want to handle private clients, we could always network with an existing firm owner out there and get them clients in exchange for the work or a share. If we’re even moderately successful, big companies will be offering to buy back their business from us in a few years, and the field will be a lot healthier once the market share is spread out. Our actions determine the future. The conversation today is steno or digital. Tomorrow it just might be stay steno or slam sand.

Shortage Solutions 6: Pay the Piper

Everybody knows the story about the Pied Piper. A town has a terrible vermin problem and the Pied Piper comes, promising to do away with the problem. The Piper uses his or her flute, pipe, or whatever musical instrument the story calls for, and plays a magical tune that lets him or her lead all the rats to the river to be drowned. Upon the Piper making good on their promise, the town refuses to pay the Piper, and the Piper uses that magical tune to lead all the children away. The moral of the story is pay your debts — or else!

When I was a newbie, people had no trouble telling me I needed to pay my dues, accept whatever an agency was willing to toss me, and move forward. Those people were right. In the beginning, one needs to be hungry and establish themselves. So it’s with some amusement that I get to say now to all of you: Make sure after that initial starter period that the Piper is paid. Court reporters, you are the Piper. The agency is not the Piper. The agency went through the trouble of marketing and receiving work to dish out to you, but if any one particular agency didn’t exist, the depositions would still be occurring, the demand is more or less fixed.

In the face of fixed demand and a fairly specialized skill set of deposition or stenographic reporting, it makes sense that as the supply of court reporters goes down, the price must rise. Here in New York we were pretty depressed on rates. Agencies were offering $3.25 a page and 25 cents on a copy, if that. Things were bad. Now the shoe is literally on the other foot, and it’s time for reporters to demand to be paid, and for agencies to pay them before the reporters take your children away.

I have to say, one starter company that seems to get this shifting paradigm is NexDep. It looks like they want to pay Reporters 4 a page and 2 a copy. 2 dollars, just so you know, not two cents. I reached out to Daniel Perelman, ostensibly NexDep’s founder, just to get a little more insight on what they’re doing or things they’d like reporters to know about their company.

My very first question was whether they had a referral program like many of the success stories out there, and he confirmed that NexDep does have a referral program where a percentage of every job from the referred client would go to the referrer.

Next I asked about wait time, and Mr. Perelman explained they don’t currently bill for wait time, but also stated he was open to it and understood the need to bill for wait time in the event a reporter was sitting and waiting for hours on their time. He did also mention to me that the reporter’s full-day appearance fee is always given, even if the deposition is a half hour long.

Asked about RFPs and whether NexDep was taking a step into any of that territory, Mr. Perelman stated that they were open to any business opportunity, but also noted that his experience with RFP contracts tended to result in low pay for reporters. My takeaway was that if it wasn’t getting his reporters paid, he wasn’t going to take it.

Finally, asked if he had anything he wanted to tell reporters or the field about his company, he wrote, “Nexdep is the first to market on-demand court reporting platform. We’re popular not because of our low rates, but because we make scheduling incredibly fast and simple on the client end, while also making the accepting of jobs fair and easy on the reporter end. We’ve made freelance court reporting a truly freelance career again.” Honestly, I first met Mr. Perelman at the Plaza College Court Reporting Symposium, and he was honest and upfront about not being a reporter, but his company policies tell me he knows who we are and the value we bring to the table.

Now all this said, I have definitely had some anecdotes from reporters who said “I signed up for NexDep and haven’t gotten anything yet.” So that indicates to me that there’s definitely a larger market share for NexDep to go out there and grab — but maybe this is an opportunity for all the other agencies and all reporters to figure out that one sure route to retain reporting professionals is to make sure they’re getting paid for doing the lion’s share of the work.

The Cost of Doing Business

Dragging up part of an old retainer agreement just to prove a point here. As you can see from this example, if the case went to depositions, the law firm intended to charge almost fifteen dollars a page to me, the client. Let’s just say that in New York at that time, 2014, it was pretty easy to find someone to do it for 4. Many of my contemporaries were working for $3.25 a page or less. Being somewhat shy, I never bothered to ask why that was so high or explain the going rate of a stenographer.

But this should raise some questions for us in the field. If this was in a retainer, what kind of rates are really being charged for our services? Is there really a race to the bottom? Certainly, some owners have bid low to get contracts, and that can hurt our fees, but I have felt for a long time that if we started to see invoices from various law firms around the city and state, we’d see a pattern emerge of winners and losers.

The losers are undoubtedly those who do not make it part of their business to learn what they are truly worth. Learn exactly what the market will bear and demand it. The lucky thing about being a loser, I can say from experience, is that it is a mindset more than a personality trait. We all have the capability of changing our minds, pulling ourselves out of a worker mentality of “I will work and get what they pay” to “What is my value really?”

In deciding your rates and what you want in life, you should create a simple spreadsheet or list. You can use Google Sheets today for free. Write down all of your expenses. Your business and personal expenses. How much is your food, shelter, supplies per month? Add to those expenses any business expenses you might have to improve your business. Think classes, certifications, equipment. You take that list of expenses, and you have the absolute bear minimum you must make. Now consider what you would like to make. Go over to my math tables on how many pages you need to make your desired annual salary. Look at the different amount of work you have to do at each rate, and see for yourself the cost of doing business.

Remember that you are the provider. It’s not going to get much cheaper than your expenses unless you live a very lavish lifestyle. Why does everything cost so much? Because at the end of the day, people and their families have to eat. So don’t be shy about applying that to your business, asking questions, pushing up your rates when appropriate, and be confident about the skill you’re selling. Hopefully seeing $14.95 in print raises questions for you like it did for me. You’re a winner, earn like one.

Table of Contents

On the suggestion of a reader, the table of contents has been revised to show articles in date order with summaries. Articles or posts that I believe have no more value are omitted from this page but may be found via the search box.

This table of contents is currently under construction. Please use the search box on the home page if
you are looking for something specific.


Open Steno’s Unprecedented Growth Continues 11/23/21
OpenSteno.org continues its push to grow the stenographic legion.

Stenonymous Promotes Naegeli’s Lawsuit Threat on Twitter 11/22/21
After Naegeli’s lawsuit threat I promoted it on Twitter to 8,000 people and Naegeli backed down.

Rumors that LiveLitigation is Linked to vTestify False, says President 11/21/21
Though both companies may have used the branding “LiveDeposition,” the president of LiveLitigation says they are competitors.

Naegeli Threatens Legal Filing Against Stenonymous 11/20/21
Due to my 11/19/21 post, Naegeli threatened to sue me.

Naegeli Charged $11.50 Per Page on a Copy Sale 11/19/21
This post exposed how Naegeli charged $11.50 on a copy sale, even if that’s not what was ultimately received.

Day 1 of Stenograph Boycott, Company Releases Pro-Steno Teaser 11/18/21
After I called for a boycott, Stenograph put out pro-steno images to appease customers.

NCRA Joins Battle, Calls Out Potentially Illegal Conduct 11/17/21
NCRA announced to the country that procedural rules were being violated in many states, so I reported on it.

Is Stenograph Sabotaging Stenographer Software Support? 11/16/21
This post memorialized the deterioration of Stenograph customer service in 2021.

Orange Legal, A Veritext Company, May Share Location with BlueLedge 11/12/21
This post explored the fact that Orange Legal appears to share a location with BlueLedge.

BlueLedge Connected with Veritext and Stenograph 11/11/21
This post showed the friendliness of BlueLedge, a digital court reporting training program, with Stenograph and Veritext.

Identimap Offers Free Trial to Court Reporting Businesses 11/10/21
This post explained Identimap’s offer to court reporting businesses.

US Legal Support Switches to Ultimate Staffing in Its Bid to Betray Industry 11/9/21
After months of daily LinkedIn posts searching for digital court reporters, US Legal switched to using Ultimate Staffing to post the digital court reporter jobs.

Court Reporter EDU is FoS 11/7/21
This post exposes CourtReporterEDU.org, a site that appears to be dedicated to providing resources for people looking to become court reporters / stenographers. The site actually redirects people to Ed 2 Go / BlueLedge.

US Legal Terrified of Stenonymous, Donates $50k to Project Steno 11/6/21
A jab at US Legal Support for donating a comparatively trivial amount of money to Project Steno while doing everything in its power to undermine, underpay, and eradicate stenographers.

Stenograph’s Public Relations Problem 11/5/21
This post explains that Stenograph’s good will towards stenographers is manufactured to appease so that Stenograph can sell to both stenographers and digital court reporters. I explain that it is in stenographers’ best interest to boycott unless and until the company ceases all digital court reporting promotion and why stenographers have that power.

Proof STTI is a Propaganda Machine 11/4/21
In this post I revealed that if STTI’s claims about stenographer shortage were accurate, 16% of jobs would be uncovered.

Is US Legal Giving Digital Reporters Benefits? 11/4/21
A post comparing the temporarily good treatment of digital court reporters to the historically atrocious treatment of stenographic court reporters.

StenoMasters Membership Free to Seven Students — Charter Imminent! 11/3/21
A post revealing StenoMasters would soon be chartered. Several students were given their first year free.

My Transformation 11/1/21
A post revealing more of my thoughts on human psychology, how I used that to help myself and others, and how I hope others will use my discoveries for good.

U.S. Legal Support Charged the Equivalent of $4.90 on a Copy Sale in CA 10/31/21
A post revealing how U.S. Legal charged $4.90 a page on a copy. A court ruled $2.50 was reasonable.

Tipping Points Are Hard! 10/27/21
A post revealing my letter to the FTC and Twitter campaign exposing Peter Giammanco’s behavior.

Support A Steno Streamer Today! 10/26/21
A post announcing my support for VaderBabe87, a steno Twitch streamer.

Veritext and US Legal Lied to the Public About Stenographer Shortage 10/23/21
This post explored how two major court reporting companies inflated the required enrollments to solve the stenographer shortage by a factor of six.

Want a Press Release? Write Me Today! 10/21/21
My post offering press release services.

Becki Joins the Stenographic Legion! 10/20/21
Becki’s TikTok took the steno world by storm months prior to this post. She unboxed her new stenotype on camera, and this post memorializes that.

Verbit Continues Trying to Brainwash an Industry 10/19/21
A post that pits actual numbers against Verbit’s overblown claims of stenographer shortage.

Steno101’s Spotify Ad Has Taken Off 10/18/21
A post memorializing Steno101.com’s Spotify ad launch.

A Little About Copyright and This Blog 10/16/21
A lighthearted post where I explained I would not enforce any copyright that I own related to this blog and encouraged readers to use it in whatever legal way they wanted.

Arizona Asked for Public Comment on Recording and We Responded 10/14/21
A memorialization of Arizona’s attempt to change the court rules and our response as a field.

My Open Email to Readback Active Reporting 10/12/21
A post where I revealed an e-mail I wrote to Readback Active Reporting, a firm attempting to sell digital court reporting under the ruse of being a new classification, “active reporting.”

Upcoming Appearances with Stenographers World and PYRP 10/8/21
A post where I announced a weekend of online appearances and said something controversial.

BLS Statistics on Our Field May Be Unreliable 10/7/21
A post that exposes how the Bureau of Labor Statistics data has changed over time and why it may be accurate as of October 2021.

AI Researchers Have Similar Expectation & Belief Problems to Ours 10/6/21
A post that discusses AI winter and points to the importance of funding and investor perception.


We Defeated The Stenographer Shortage Twice Before I Was Born and Will Again 10/4/21
A look at historic stenographer shortages and what that might mean for our current shortage.

When Autocraptions Fail, Stenographers Step Up 10/2/21
A post memorializing when a stenographer stepped up to help people suffering from bad captions.

Upcoming Online Events Court Reporters Are Invited To! 9/29/21
A post that announces Ana Fatima Costa’s 9/30 workshop and AAUW’s 10/5 workshop.

U.S. Legal Support Continues Its Attack On Minority Speakers 9/28/21
A post that lines up and explains more succinctly my case for why U.S. Legal is exaggerating and exacerbating the shortage.

Zombie Corporations in Court Reporting (2-minute video) 9/27/21
A video post explaining zombie corporations and a brief reasoning for my belief that much of the private equity money in court reporting is devoted to zombie corporations.

Big Companies Are Not Using Digital Reporting Because of Stenographer Shortage 9/24/21
A post showing that despite claims that the use of digital reporting is due to stenographer shortage, few good faith attempts to recruit stenographers or build interest in the field are made.

Find Your Voice With StenoMasters 9/23/21
A blog post promoting StenoMasters, a nonprofit dedicated to helping stenographers and the public with public speaking.

If You Think I’m Your Enemy, Watch This Video 9/20/21
Realizing that some of my message gets lost in writing, I took to video to explain myself to my fellow court reporters.

How 60 Stenographers Changed Reality 9/17/21
This post urged reporters to see their own power as individuals.

Verbit Published Kentuckiana Proceeding Audio Online Without Anyone’s Permission
9/15/21
This post exposed how Verbit posted family court proceeding audio on the internet and paved the way to the audio being taken down.

Investors Misled, Verbit Lies, Media Buys It 9/14/21
This post explored various claims by Verbit and why they were misleading or untrue.

US Legal Rep: Does It Really Matter If Done Legally and Ethically…? 9/13/21
This post exposed that US Legal Support may be lying to court reporting consumers about the stenographer shortage.

How Corporations Gaslight Stenographers Into Fighting Each Other and How To Beat That 9/9/21
This post exposed the gaslighting that causes infighting in our field and distracts us from talking about actual issues.

The Layperson’s Guide To Why Stenographic Reporting Is More Efficient Than Digital Reporting 9/8/21
This post laid out some facts about digital reporting that are rarely talked about and dives deeper than “what if the microphone doesn’t pick it up.”

Allison Hall — $20 to Sponsor a Student in Need 9/7/21
This post celebrates the anniversary of Paying It Forward, a group of stenographers coming together to help students and newbies break down financial barriers to entry in our field.

NYSCRA Offering RPR WKT Test Prep September 2021 9/4/21
This post advertises NYSCRA’s September 2021 test prep.

How Science and Psychology Help This Blog Beat Digital Reporting CEOs 9/3/21
A post that explains the importance of narratives, psychology, recruiting digital reporters, and sharing information.

I Figured Out Why ASR Is So Hard To Perfect 9/2/21
A post I put out with an epiphany as to why automatic speech recognition is not closing the gap to 100%.

Was Ducker Worldwide Wrong About Stenographer Shortage? 9/1/21
A post about Ducker Worldwide’s Court Reporting Industry Outlook 2013-2014.

What Court Reporters Can Learn From Y2K 8/31/21
A glance at the history of Y2K and how we can use that as a model for solving the stenographer shortage.

Stenographer Energy & Social Media Recruitment 8/30/21
A review of a popular TikTok about stenography and a jab at the dishonesty of US Legal Support.

What Is Realtime Voice Writing and Why Is It Better Than Digital Reporting? 8/22/21
An explanation of voice writing and why it blows digital reporting out of the water.

Drillmaker for Students/Educators 8/6/21
A post introducing a simple computer script that anyone can use to help make lists of random words for drills.

Fear Public Speaking? Try StenoMasters! 8/4/21
A post announcing the birth of StenoMasters, an non-for-profit online speaking club for court reporters.

The Magic of Cost Shifting – How Big Companies Beat the Working Reporter
8/4/21
A post that gets into cost shifting and how some court reporting companies can shift costs to make it harder for the working reporter to compete directly with them.

Is VITAC Paying Below Market Rates for Captioners? 7/27/21
A post that explores job postings by VITAC and compares it to providers’ past experiences in captioning.

Will Verbit Go Public in 2022? 7/23/21
This post gently critiques a Forbes article and points out possible futures for the Verbit company.

The Importance of Plover and Open Steno 7/19/21
This post talks about the Open Steno 2021 survey.

PCRA Wouldn’t Say Whether It Sees the Future Generation as Being Digital Reporters
& What You Can Do About It
7/17/21
This post describes a webinar held by PCRA on June 26, 2021 that platformed digital reporting, why digital reporting is not an adequate court reporting technology, and what court reporters can do to safeguard their associations.

NCRA News. Career Launcher and President’s Party 7/14/21
This post describes NCRF’s Career Launcher, a series of modules to help new reporters. It also mentions the NCRA convention president’s party.

Why I Resigned From the NYSCRA Board and NCRA Strong, and the Future of this Blog 7/7/21
This post dives into why I resigned from several volunteer activities and announces my intention to continue providing industry news.

John Belcher on Winning Depositions 7/1/21
This post showcases information from John Belcher with regard to depositions.

Gartner: 85% of AI Implementations Will Fail By 2022 6/30/21
This post talks about Gartner’s prediction that 85% of AI business solutions will fail and explains why that might be the case.

PAF Steno 6/29/21
This post mentions PAF Steno and the work it is doing to train stenographers.

Thinking of Taking Private Clients? New York Reporter: …Trust Yourself and Go Do It. 6/28/21
This post showcases a Q&A with a New York reporter that was able to double their money by taking private clients.

Over-Engineering Will Hurt Your Business 6/24/21
This post explores over-engineering and the dangers of it in a general sense. It also explains how automatic speech recognition and AI relates to over-engineering.

Steno & Me (Under the Sea Parody) 6/24/21
These lyrics are a parody of Under the Sea from the Little Mermaid set to a steno theme. Immediately after this post was launched, it was discovered that more than 10% of stenographers are also mermaids.

Share Something For Me? 6/22/21
This post touches briefly on how social media algorithms can hamper the spread of information and asks court reporters to share my 6/19/21 article in order to counter false perceptions about stenography in the media.

Relationship Conflicts & What You Can Do When It All Goes Wrong 6/21/21
This post talks about the types of personalities you might run into when buying something from someone. It also proposes a process for resolving conflict. It is geared toward business relationships but can be used for personal relationships also.

Journalists May Be Reporting Black People’s Stories Wrong 6/19/21
This post was utilized in an ad campaign to bring more attention to our field with regard to the study Testifying While Black. Many outlets reported false or misleading headlines regarding the study. This article dives into the dishonesty of several media sources when it comes to stenographic court reporting.

Recording Endangered By Stenography’s Retirement Cliff 6/17/21
This post talks about how the stenographer shortage can hurt the record-and-transcribe modality of taking down the record. In brief, it shows how stenographers are used to transcribe work in many places that have “switched to digital.”

Outreach Webinar by Project Steno – June 6, 2021 6/2/21
This post boosted the 6/6/21 Project Steno/NYSCRA webinar pertaining to high school outreach.

1 in 4 Court Reporting Companies May Be Unprofitable 5/28/21
This post describes a 2019 report by Kentley Insights, explains what zombie companies are, and goes on to suggest that the unprofitable companies in the field are the ones using digital reporting.

Does Stenonymous Spend More On Steno Ads Than US Legal? 5/27/21
In this post US Legal’s LinkedIn campaign to recruit digital court reporters is exposed. The post also shows how Stenonymous has been used to expose thousands of people to stenographic court reporting and contrasts that with US Legal’s apparent lack of a stenographic recruitment strategy.

Vote Yes! NCRA 2021 Proposed Bylaw Amendments 5/25/21
This post advertises the 2021 proposed bylaw amendments and gives my opinion of each.

Court Reporters Speak Up For The Record On Future Trials 6/2/21
This post explores the April 2021 report by the Future Trials Working Group to the New York State Unified Court System. It also showcases association and union response to the report and the reply received by the court system.

MGR Interviewed on the Treatment of Reporters 5/18/21
This post shares my interview with Marc Russo, owner of MGR Reporting, on the treatment of reporters.

CART v Autocraption, A Strategic Overview For Captioners 5/13/21
This post gives information to CART providers to help them cope with the hype and lies surrounding automatic speech recognition (ASR) and sentiments by some that they are replaceable. It talks about how captioners can protect consumers and why consumers need that protection.

Literal v Readable, A Primer on Transcribing What We Hear 5/10/21
This post describes several issues stenographers may run into on the job, including whether to edit something that is spoken or leave it completely verbatim. It explains how context matters in our work.

Paying It Forward with Allie Hall 5/4/21
This post mentions Allie Hall’s efforts with regard to Paying It Forward and how reporters can contribute.

A Primer on ASR and Machine Learning For Stenographers 4/22/21
This post explains some of the technology behind automatic speech recognition and machine learning in simple terms so that stenographers can understand it and educate their clients.

How We Discuss Errors and Automatic Speech Recognition
4/12/21
This post explains automatic speech recognition’s word error rate metric and compares it to how court reporters measure errors.

For Digital Court Reporters and Transcribers, Check Out Steno! 3/1/21
This post was used in an ad campaign to expose digital court reporters and transcribers to stenography and express to them in simple terms why it is better to learn the skill of and work in the field of stenographic court reporting.

Facebook Boosting 101 2/26/21
This post explored the power of paid advertising and showed stenographers how they can multiply their reach by 20.

For Students Saddled With Unpayable Student Loan Debt 2/24/21
This post presents links and resources relating to options students in debt have.

Aggressive Marketing — Growth or Flailing? 2/22/21
This article dives into Fyre Festival and describes how sometimes companies talk a good game even when their product or idea is unprofitable or poorly executed. It also takes a look at VIQ Solutions, parent of Net Transcripts, Inc., and how despite making millions in revenue, VIQ reported over $300,000 in losses.

Help Chris DeGrazio Celebrate International Women’s Day! 2/19/21
Court reporter Chris DeGrazio sought to celebrate International Women’s Day by creating a collage. This post helped advertise it.

Court Reporter Humor – Stenoholics & Andy Bajaña 2/15/21
Stenoholics and Andy Bajana have some hilarious videos related to court reporting. You can get links to them through this post.

Finding Time 2/12/21
This article talks about time management, the importance of scheduling, and using common tools such as calendars and schedulers. It also cautions against taking too much time trying to find the “perfect” tool.

Scholarships & Contests For Students February 2021 2/11/21
This post provides information with regard to 2021 scholarships and contests for stenography students.

You Need 2FA Now 2/10/21
This post talks about two-factor authentication (2FA) and why court reporters need to use it wherever it is available.

Veritext “Provides More Work To Stenographers Than Any Other Firm In The Country” 2/9/21
After reaching out to Veritext for comment regarding what I perceived as a nonsensical and incongruent recruitment strategy, I reached out to Veritext for comment.

Need Continuing Education? Consider CCR Seminars. 2/8/21
This post breaks down the value of one private court reporting education company, CCR Seminars.

List of New York Agencies 2/5/21
This post provides a list of New York agencies in spreadsheet format.

The Ultimate Guide To Officialship (NY) 2/4/21
An anonymous person had been harassing me for several years. One of their “gibes” or implications was that I was an official reporter that posts a lot about freelance and I should post more about officialship. So I did.

Collective Power of Stenographers 2/3/21
This post is a mathematical demonstration of the power of stenographers. Often, stenographers share posts from companies or electronic recording companies as gospel. This post notes that reporters collectively have more money and power than any organization.

For The Record Documentary Goes Free 2/2/21
This post reported Marc Greenberg’s announcement that the For The Record documentary would become free.

NYSCRA’s CRCW 2021 & My Thoughts On The Future 2/1/21
This post announced several NYSCRA plans for Court Reporting & Captioning Week 2021 and explained why reporters must stand by their associations.

Can Freelancers Apply For Workers Compensation Benefits? (NY) 1/29/21
This post explored under what circumstances an “independent contractor” could attempt to claim workers comp benefits in New York.

GGU Presentation & Why You Matter 1/28/21
This post talked about Ana Fatima Costa’s presentation for Golden Gate University, Court Reporter Tips Every Lawyer Needs To Make the Best Record. It also went on to describe how any reporter can make an impact.

Beware Commercial Leasing Agreements for Equipment 12/27/20
This post explains commercial leasing agreements and how they can be very costly traps for reporters if reporters do not fully understand the agreement.

Can You Hear Me Now? Computer Parts For Steno Made Simple 12/22/20
This post explains to court reporters what they’re looking at when buying computers. It gives simple descriptions of components and how to make good purchasing decisions. It also provides simple troubleshooting tips or ideas.

What Law Offices Need To Know About A Court Reporter Shortage 12/15/20
This post was used in an ad campaign to explain the court reporting shortage to law offices. It focused heavily on combatting misinformation about our shortage and explained where stenographers could be found.

Remote Notarial Acts Executive Orders (NY 2020) 11/5/20
During the pandemic the governor of New York issued an executive order which allowed remote notarial acts. This post tracked the orders and extensions for court reporters.

Trolls and You 10/17/20
This post explored trolls-for-hire and exposed how cheap it could be to organize a misinformation campaign. The post also noted examples of likely trolls. It also counseled against the advice “don’t feed the trolls” and explained the importance of not allowing trolls to dictate the conversation.

The Question To Ask Yourself When Viewing An ASR Demo 10/10/20
This post compared several high-profile technology buys to automatic speech recognition technology and its dearth of such purchases. It also showed that ASR technology by the biggest players in the business was inadequate for court reporting.

Turning Omissions Into Opportunity 9/19/20
This post explored several omissions in the media regarding court reporting and demonstrated how court reporters can use these omissions to inform journalists.

What Verbit Leadership Needs To Know
9/12/20
This post appealed to Verbit leadership and pointed out how exaggerated claims could make the company look bad.

How To Spot More Better Marketing 8/25/20
A short guide on seeing through puffery.

Common Scams 8/18/20
A guide to spotting scams that may be adaptable to our industry.

August Asterisks 2020 (Jobs) 8/13/20
An August 2020 post about jobs that were available.

StenoKey, Stenographic Education Innovation? 7/1/20
A post about StenoKey, an educational program by Katiana Walton.

Stenonymous on VICE News Tonight 6/18/20
A post covering my TV appearance regarding the Testifying While Black Study by Taylor Jones, et al.

June Jettisons 2020 (Jobs Post) 6/16/20
A June 2020 post about jobs that were available.

Expedite Legal, Enhancing Coverage Nationwide? 6/15/20
A post covering Expedite Legal, an app service connecting lawyers to legal service providers like court reporters.

Check Out 225 and Beyond (Beware of Busywork) 6/14/20
A post promoting the work of Euan Williams.

How Organizations & Associations Work 6/13/20
A post that explains how associations work and the volunteer structure of them.

May Machinations 2020 (Jobs Post) 5/12/20
A May 2020 post that described available jobs.

NYSCRA Student Webinar May 2020 5/5/20
A post advertising the May 2020 NYSCRA student webinar.

Stenopalooza was POWerful 5/3/20
A post summarizing Stenopalooza 2020 and NCRA STRONG

Pricing Pages In A Market of Fear 4/6/20
A post that discussed supply and demand and the dearth of work in our field at the start of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.

April Applications 2020 (Jobs Post) 4/1/20
An April 2020 post about jobs that were available.

Steno Shortage Stats March 2020 3/14/2020
This post gave fast facts reporters could keep in mind when discussing the stenographer shortage.

What Verbit Investors Need To Know
3/4/20
This post investigated Verbit’s series A funding claims and compared them with series B funding claims. It also explained how a cost savings estimate by STTI was pathetic.

Trust Issues, Brought To You By Veritext 2/25/20
A post that examines the actions of Veritext versus statements made by the company.

Eastern District NY Hiring! 2/13/20 2/13/20
A post outlining a job opening in February 2020 for the Eastern District of New York federal court.

Stenonymous on Facebook 2/3/20
A post that announces the beginning of the Stenonymous discussion group on Facebook.

Fantastic February 2020 2/1/20
A post that lists jobs that were available in February 2020.

The Savior Chimera
1/29/20
A post that examines NCRA v AAERT and their relative abilities to combat the court reporter shortage.

Copyright and Stenography 1/24/20
A post that dives into the lack of copyright protection for stenographic court reporting.

Shortage Solutions 12: Stenography 1/23/20
A post that gives mathematical reasons on why it is smarter to address the court reporter shortage with stenographers than transcribers.

Shortage Solutions 11: Logistics 1/22/20
This post discusses the possibility of getting clients to space out depositions instead of starting everything at 10:00 a.m. in order to improve the logistical difficulty in getting a stenographic court reporter at every deposition.

A Night In Brooklyn, PYRP 78 1/21/20
A post that details an initiative by Protect Your Record Project and gives examples of how every reporter can advocate.

Why & When Leaders Stay Silent 1/15/20
A post about why leaders do not always address or acknowledge adversarial organizations and/or detractors.

NYSCRA 2020 Survey, Lobbying
1/9/20
A post about NYSCRA’s 2020 survey as well as some ideas I wrote to the association.

January 2020, Just Apply! 1/6/20
A post regarding jobs available in January 2020.

Stenographers, Planet Depos Is Not Your Friend 12/10/19
A post documenting attempts by Planet Depos to attract digital court reporters.

The Economics of Caring
12/6/19
A musing about apathy and how it can cost you your job.

Pricing Yourself Out of the Market 12/4/19
A post that briefly talks about the potential of pricing oneself out of the market and then launches into a defense of why rates in certain markets could be higher.

December Dirigibles 2019 12/2/19
A post describing jobs available in December 2019.

The Impossible Institute 11/23/19
A post examining the Speech-to-Text Institute and why claims that the stenographer shortage is impossible to solve are false.

The Original and What? 11/7/19
A discussion about copies, happiness, and altruism.

Government v Gig Economy 11/6/19
This post explored the possibility of the government reclassifying stenographers and what could be done if that occurred.

November Niches 2019 11/4/19
A November 2019 job post.

Stenonymous Suite: Early Version 10/29/19
My early coding experiments resulted in the Stenonymous Suite, released in the hopes people brighter than me do better.

Historic Rate Data: New York 1990s 10/25/19
A review of court reporter rates that showed we were making less value in 2010 than in 1991.

MAPEC 2019 10/21/19
A review of the reporter Empowerment Conference in 2019.

Raise Your Rates 2019 10/4/19
A call to get reporters to raise their rates in accordance with supply and demand.

Loans, School, & You 10/2/19
An explanation of debt to assist students.

October Occupations 2019 10/1/19
An October 2019 job post.

Outfluence by Al Betz 9/23/19
This program presents a professionalism and communication program called Outfluence.

NCRA Virtual Town Hall, September 21, 2019 9/22/19
This post described a 9/21/19 NCRA Town Hall session.

Historic Rate Data: A First Look 9/21/19
This post took historic rate data from the west coast and adjusted it for inflation to show court reporters were behind inflation.

How To Create Timed Dictation 9/21/19
This post describes how to create timed dictation.

Buying Hype 9/17/19
This post described the dangers of buying hype instead of thinking critically.

Keep Enemies Closer 9/16/19
A caution against oversharing.

Forgiving Your Impostor Syndrome 9/13/19
A post regarding letting go of feelings of inadequacy.

Pattern Writing 9/12/19
This post describes how using patterns or groups of briefs can help you remember and use them.

Shortage Solutions 10: Contract or Employment 9/9/19
This post proposed employment structure changes to help with shortage.

September Submissions 2019 9/1/19
A September 2019 post talking about available jobs in 2019.

The Disappointment Paradigm 8/30/19
This post describes the importance of setting boundaries.

State Associations With Mentoring 8/23/19
This post released a spreadsheet of nearly every stenographic court reporting association in the United States and whether it had mentoring.

Achieve Your Dream Salary Using Retrograde Extrapolation 8/19/19
This post describes how one can meet goals by setting the goal and working backwards to see how that goal might be accomplished.

The Resurgence 8/16/19
This post remarked on the resurgence of American stenography.

Do You Log Your Practice? 8/13/19
This post described how tracking practice could enhance progress.

Shortage Solutions 9: Independent Listings 8/12/19
This post explored how available directories of court reporters could end the shortage.

Recording Grand Jury (NY) 8/11/19
This post documented an instance where grand jury proceedings were audio recorded and related New York laws.

Library of Congress Seeks Volunteer Transcribers 8/10/19
This post urged stenographers to assist in transcription for the Library of Congress.

Guarding the Record Against Misinformation 8/9/19
This post points out misinformation in the court reporting industry and the importance of speaking against it.

Global Alliance Founding 8/8/19
This post documented the founding of Global Alliance.

Combination Banking 8/7/19
This post discusses combination banking, a better way to do Q&A.

How Many Errors Allowed? 8/6/19
This post presents a spreadsheet to calculate how many erors are allowed on a steno test and points out that a student did this better than me.

The vTestify Lie 8/5/19
This post pointed out that vTestify’s claim that it could save $3,000 per deposition was false.

August Applications 2019 8/2/19
An August 2019 jobs post.

Steno Speed and the Youtube Angle 7/27/19
This post documented my effort to preserve the old stenospeed dot com audio files.

Can’t Outspend? Outsell. 7/25/19
This post provided anecdotal evidence on how stenographers were being outmarketed rather than outmatched.

Stenovate, Workspace Consolidation 7/22/19
This post highlighted Stenovate, a transcript management software.

Shortage Solutions 8: Retirement 7/19/19
This post discussed how retirees could stop the stenographer shortage.

Cert Shaming 7/17/19
This post discussed the importance of certified and uncertified reporters not fighting each other.

Review: A Court Reporter’s Guide to Leadership and Team Building, by Colin Yorke 7/15/19
A review of a very short book about leadership by Colin Yorke and a giveaway to get his writing out there.

New Speed Students, Learn To Let Go 7/10/19
This post details the importance of avoiding the asterisk key on test day.

Practice, Finger Drill, WKT, Dictation Marker Update 7/6/19
This post documented by attempts at coding computer scripts that could help create finger drills, NY Civil Service WKT practice, and automatically mark dictation.

Shortage Solutions 7: Recruitment 7/5/19
This post described how important recruitment for stenography was and gave mathematical examples for how court reporters could increase the number of graduates just by talking about the field.

July Jobs Jubilee (2019) 6/28/19
A post for July 2019 jobs available.

RE: Remote Judicial Reporting, WUNCRA 6/26/19
A post that pointed to the danger of remote judicial reporting, as well as offered both praise and criticism for the Wake Up NCRA blog.

Can Verbit Replace Verbatim? 6/21/19
This post described difficulties that I anticipated Verbit was going to have with perfecting automatic speech recognition technology.

Stenonymous Suite and Q&A Generator (Concept) 6/20/19
This post revealed a computer programming script I was working on called the Stenonymous Suite.

Shortage Solutions 6: Pay the Piper 6/17/19
A post where I explained one way to end the shortage would be to pay stenographers better.

Sexual Harassment for Stenos 6/11/19
A post describing sexual harassment in our field, and specifically New York law.

Law For Stenographers (US) (FRCP) 6/10/19
Federal procedural laws I feel stenographers should know of.

June 9 Burngirl CaseCAT Tips (2019) 6/7/19
A post promoting a CaseCAT tip event by Burngirl.

Shortage Solutions 5: Public Perception 6/6/19
A post that described the importance of public perception to stenography’s survival as an industry.

NCRA Bylaw Amendment Proposals 2019 6/5/19
A post memorializing the 2019 NCRA bylaws amendment proposals.

Be Smart With Social Media 6/5/19
A post with various cautions about social media and how to use it in a way that builds your brand instead of destroying it.

The Cost of Doing Business 6/4/19
A post giving general advice about expenses that revealed an old retainer I signed where $14.95 per page was in the contract for depositions.

Table of Contents 6/3/19
This is the table of contents you are currently reading. 6/3/19 is the day it went live.

To Our Litigators 5/31/29
A post to lawyers about our stenographer shortage.



















The Audio Sink

We’ll try not to pontificate too much beyond the title, but it’s time to jump right into discussion on Audio Sync technology. For a quick overview to newbies, the aptly acronym’d AS is basically an audio recording contemporaneously taken with your stenographic notes that allows you to jump to that place in the audio where your notes were taken.

It’s a wonderful tool that’s revered by newbies and seasoned reporters alike. It’s a great thing. It was impressive when it came out and remains an impressive feat of technology today. All that acknowledged, it’s time to put out some caution for the newbie or seasoned writer that utilizes it. Many will have seen these ideas or perhaps assume everyone already knows these things. We’ll assume the weakest link doesn’t and strengthen the chain.

First thing is first, if you’re going to use it, it’s not good to rely on it. Computers are funny. Sometimes they appear to be recording but aren’t. Sometimes they’re recording so much background noise it makes the audio useless. Sometimes you, the operator, forget to turn on the mic. It can be beneficial to pretend you do not have it. As saying goes, if you didn’t hear that answer, don’t assume the microphone did.

It can be beneficial to take jobs without it for three reasons. Firstly, it gives you an accurate idea of where you’re at. If you need a repeat every few seconds it feels awful, but it gives you an honest understanding that when you find some time, you need to work on that speed, or work on that particular accent, or improve whatever is going wrong within your control. There are resourceful tricks we often only come up with if we are forced to get it and do not allow ourselves to “let the audio catch it.”

Then there is also a boon to your wallet. If you rely on audio, then you listen to the entire deposition over, and it can literally double or triple your transcription time to listen to something more than once. Time is money, and very few of us have time to spend listening to every job over. Learning to read misstrokes and getting to glide from word to word will save you time and money in the long run. In the short run, you can also listen to music while transcribing.

If you’re planning on taking an employment test, the ability to walk into a job without audio is priceless. Your transcription skills and on-the-spot resourcefulness will be as sharp as it gets. You will have the ability to cope with getting it under pressure.

In the view of many, AS has done wonders for the field, but also hurt us badly. We graduate at 95 percent accuracy. Many of us go on to let the audio catch it, resulting in lower accuracy, longer transcription times, and tougher times passing examinations for certification or employment. This isn’t to ostracize those among us that use it or even rely on it, but to encourage that occasional job where you shut it off and let yourself develop skills in polite interruption and writing resourcefulness that this generation of reporter just hasn’t had to develop.

Value Gradients for the Stenographer in Training (180+ WPM)

In this article we’ll get down to the different kinds of services offered by freelancers and some officials. This’ll be for the benefit of the relatively new and uninitiated. If you’ve already obtained some mastery over the basics of steno industry or if you’re brand new, this really won’t be for you because you already know about it or are just too new to be worrying about it. I say if you’ve completed 80 percent of a 225 words-per-minute program, 180 WPM, this is probably a worthwhile read.

So there are different things in this field that add value to your work as a stenographer. While we can’t necessarily get behind the subjectivity theory, value is, to a great degree, subjective. This means that simple things like writing a professional cover letter, resume, or contract pitch can make you, at 180 WPM, more valuable than a person who can get 225 WPM but can’t really nail the grammar on anything. Consider the first gradient in your whole career to be learning to write professionally, and always look to improve that writing.

Then we get to the simple things offered by stenographers that pull in more money, typically called upcharges. Often markets are different, and “employers” may even tell you that “they don’t pay for that.” This is a tactic to get you more comfortable with doing the work for less. If there are more stenographers willing to do the work for less, the “employer” has leverage over the stenographers that know about these upcharges, and can bypass them and have you do it for less money. Work smarter, not harder, and consider asking several reporters in your market about the types of upcharges they get. Here are some common ones: Medical testimony, expert testimony, video testimony. Some charge up to 5 percent more for late night work. Some even add an interpreted testimony fee to make up for the time lost to interpreted depositions, which are often fewer pages per hour.

Related to what we just went into is confidence. There is a level of unease that comes with being new. You will probably be pressured to take jobs for less than they are worth. Immediately out of training, it’s agreeable to take all you can get. That said, after a couple of months, after you’re used to getting the transcripts out and doing the work, have the confidence to talk to some other reporters in your market and learn more about what’s expected locally. Don’t talk to one or two — talk to as many as you can. One reporter may say don’t get out of bed for less than a thousand. Another reporter may say hey, if you can rack up 6 busts in a day, it’s okay money for zero work. Have the confidence to take all the different types of jobs just mentioned. In my “class” of reporters there was a very strong fear about taking medical testimony. It had been hyped up as this impossible thing. To be clear, medical words can be unique or difficult, but having the confidence to go out there and do it makes you a better writer with the marketable trait of being able to take any kind of job. There is value in a person that can be sent to any type of job.

Let’s touch on some more common upcharges. Expedite. What is an expedite? That depends. When I started, a “regular” was 2 weeks. Anything quicker was some kind of expedite. Of course the rule follows: The faster they want it, the more they should pay. Nowadays, agencies are pushing people to make 7 or 5 days the regular. In my mind, this is much too short, and it devalues the worth of an expedite. It’s what people who play strategy games would call “a stupid move.” That said, if you can get your work out faster than “regular”, that adds value.

Daily. What’s a daily? You take the job, go home, transcribe, and the job is done by the next day. If you can do a daily, again, there’s value there. Not every single stenographer or transcriber can fulfill a daily. Indeed, to fulfill a daily, multiple transcriptionists have to be put on the same job sometimes. If you can do a daily, you can probably make a thousand or more dollars in a day without being realtime because daily jobs can be worth double a regular in freelance.

Immediate. Immediate is basically you finish the deposition and within 30 minutes to an hour it is ready to go out. The bottom line is the client is getting the transcript pretty quick after the deposition ends. Only the best reporters with 99.9 percent accuracy or a phenomenal scopist behind them can achieve these kinds of levels.

Rough. Rough is basically you go through the untranslates and fix up the transcript before sending it out with the understanding the finished transcript comes later. A rough can be a dollar or more per page in upcharges because it’s basically like an easier immediate. Proceed with caution: Many reporters go out there and produce roughs that are basically unusable. Some of my own roughs have been pretty bad. Always seek to improve and get out the best roughs so that lawyers are encouraged to use this service.

Realtime. Maybe you’ve heard of realtime reporting. It’s among the largest upcharges because these reporters have their words coming out on a laptop or tablet screen for the client. I haven’t personally done realtime, but I know that these reporters can command a dollar or more per realtime hookup on top of their daily, medical, or other upcharges. Why are these upcharges important? More money per page equals fewer pages to make the annual income you want to make. We’ve got over 900 mathematical calculations to show this off.

Now that we’ve been through these different levels of skill, let’s look at how it’ll apply in the real world. Certifications exist, and they are important. That said, in many states and municipalities you can offer these services without the certification. What does this mean? It means that the limiting factor is you. It’s your skill and comfort level. It’s your willingness to go out there and say yes, I will take a medical. It’s the desire to get your skill level to a place where you can realistically offer these things. Your value, to a great degree, is dictated by you.

You will go out there and have bad jobs. There will be hard days. There will be times you feel shaky about the service you’re providing. There will be “employers” who make you feel replaceable. Just keep improving. Know where you are at. Be open to feedback, but don’t live by it. Learn from every mistake. If you are in training and know you are able to produce a daily transcript already — great! Don’t let anybody take that away from you. Don’t accept, as fact, that anybody can do it or that nobody charges for that. The freelance world — the business world — is a tough one. There are buyers and sellers, and the buyers will always be looking for a way to knock you down on the price. Remember these gradients in value, and remember that the more of them you achieve, the more you have something to sell.