NCRA 2.0 May 2019 Survey

Truly, NCRA has continued its commitment to being inclusionary and making changes to benefit all stenographers and members. Today we got an email that asked us to share our thoughts. That means you, reader, can participate in shaping the discussion for the field. You can be pretty sure that your words are going to reach somebody. Feel free to discuss it here, but before you do, go answer up, because your feelings matter, and the NCRA has taken an important step in letting you know that by asking. I encourage everyone, from the people that I am regularly in correspondence with to my anonymous readers to check in with your ideas for the future and how to make an NCRA that you want to be a part of.

And here are my own answers, to the extent they may be helpful or act as a beginning for bigger, better ideas.

What’s your GREAT idea?

“Most of our fights are won or lost at the state level. NCRA has historically taken on a supportive role and/or a federal, national approach. It is probably time to put at least some focus on states, particularly the big four identified by Ducker, Illinois, California, New York, Texas. Ducker said over 50 percent of court reporting was out of those states. If we lose in any of the four, it’s over.  I understand there is a committee for this type of thing now, but it will take some more press to get this knowledge to the members that have left / stopped renewing. As a very sad example, a friend of mine formerly worked with the Workers Comp Board of New York, which was gutted by electronic recording. When that person called NCRA, that person was told something along the lines of it’s a state matter and that NCRA is federal — of course, that was the NCRA then and not today’s NCRA 2.0 — but today that means one fewer member for NCRA. We can’t change the past. We can make the future better.”

How can YOU help?

“I can write. I can research. Perhaps one avenue to go down is to build a strong case for federal educational grants, see what Congress has passed in relation to other industries and begin building a strong case for stenographic education funding. NCRA has been efficient at this type of federal lobbying before and that can continue.”

Other IDEAS?

“1. Perhaps a reworking of the bylaws is in order. Leadership in NCRA is limited to Registered members, but this ends up being more exclusionary than other methods. The unfortunate truth is that there may be qualified leaders among your participating members. We had this issue in New York. In our case it was that retired and educator stenographers could not join the board. We voted on it twice, and both times, members stepped up and said if they want to lead, have them lead.


2. Inclusionary leadership. There are infinite ideas in the world. Perhaps it would be beneficial to NCRA’s image to come out with two or three big ideas that are being discussed, and either formally vote or informally poll members to see which is most important to them. I wouldn’t bind the board to the vote, but it’d probably make people, even the people that cannot donate time or effort in other ways, feel they have a voice. And to those that “lose” the vote, you can tell them this issue is still on our radar. You matter. Ultimately, memberships are selling the organization, and with regard to sales, feelings matter. 


3. If the time and data is available, make an effort to reach out to those who have not renewed. Perhaps talk to them about their beliefs or why they left. Thank them, encourage them to give NCRA 2.0 a try, and make a note of common themes. For example, if you found that 25 percent of non renewals were for a specific organizational reason, wouldn’t it be worth addressing?”

Veritext Scholarships

So we’ve got a bit of good news here. Veritext announced on May 20, 2019 that it was expanding its scholarship program. Now, obviously, this information is directly from the company. We can’t say for sure what’s happening in Minnesota, Washington, or elsewhere, but let’s be cautiously optimistic and assume this news is one hundred percent true for a moment.

It’s a good start. We’ve got to support these companies taking on the funding of education. There’s been a strong wave of stenographer activism since the big push for digital began, and this may be a tacit admission that steno is here to stay. Nothing but praise for Veritext today. Now, more than ever, is a great time for all companies to get out there and tell the field about their efforts in steno education. We are starving for good news! But, of course, we would be abdicating our moral responsibilities if we didn’t offer some suggestions.

    Schools, reach out to the company and see if you can join their program. It never hurts to make a contact.
    Veritext, according to the Ducker Report, the big four states for reporting are California, New York, Illinois, and Texas. Some of the largest shortage cries come from at least three of those states. It would be most helpful to our field if you would expand scholarships to those locations when possible.
    Also Veritext, if you continue to support rolling out the digital stuff alongside the stenography scholarships, it’s going to be assumed that the scholarships are hedging your bets and the digital is your real investment. This probably isn’t the public perception that you want your stenographers walking into your depositions with. On the flip side, if stenography becomes the primary focus, stenographers will be more loyal and less likely to poach clients. As an accountant once explained, it’s just how the world works.

Some will be skeptical because Veritext was formerly making a major push for digital by asking attorneys to amend their notices to allow it. Anecdotally, as recently as May 20, commentators online were stating that Veritext was attempting to send a videographer only to a dep. We shouldn’t forget that. We need to continue to make everybody aware that some companies are taking an active role in supplanting stenographic reporting. But if this is a sign that there can be a pivot and a turning point in the right direction, we look forward to heaping on more praise, letting the past be the past, and seeing stenographers remain the guardians of the record well into the future.

Associations and Why You Matter

The other day on Facebook I came across some rather honest remarks about the upcoming NYSCRA social. They said hey, Diamond Reporting has been depressing our rates for a while, how are we supposed to feel with their names on this event?

Let’s just say we have touched on the fact that sponsors of events do not control the event. The working reporter controls the NYSCRA leadership, and when you sign up as a member you become a part of the decision-making process.

This blog is all about the working reporter. By the time I’m done with it, I’ll have figured out how to organize the dozens of posts a bit better and the 200 or so monthly readers will have an easier time finding information. That said, it’s time to talk less about Stenonymous and more about you.

You matter. I did the math on it. Think of anything you want to legislate in New York. Stenographers in the courts? Bring back the Workers Comp stenographers? Copy protection since courts often rule our transcripts are not copyright protected? This is all done with funding, representation, and grassroots action. Lobbying is expensive and can cost 5,000 to 50,000 a month. In a six-month New York legislative session that might be 30,000 to 300,000 dollars a year. Seems impossible, right? But let’s use some easy numbers. There are 1,300 reporters on the NYSCRA Facebook page. If 500 of those reporters (38 percent) donated 100 bucks a year, which is less than the $165 annual membership, NYSCRA would have a lobbying war chest of 50,000 a year cash. In only two years, NYSCRA would have the cash for a $100,000 lobbying campaign. What could we do with a biannual lobbying campaign of 100k? Even assuming we fail half of all campaigns for ten years, that’s 2 or 3 successful campaigns. Between playing political Powerball and grassroots action, we have a serious shot at making a difference. For a C-note a year and a letter or two when there’s a campaign on, January to June, you’re looking at bolstering your field, securing your job, and protecting all of your fellow stenographers.

And I’m not saying 100 a year is easy to give up. I’ve given up thousands of dollars in membership fees and donations to organizations over the years. I’ve felt the sting of putting down money I didn’t necessarily have. I felt the pain when the Workers Comp campaigns failed. It cost a lot of good people their job and made those that kept the job miserable. I know a lot of you reading felt what I felt. I know a lot of you reading had to do more than feel it. Some of you had to live it. But there are two options: Suffer through the defeats so that we might see victory, or put our heads in the sand and wait for the next big thing to come around and threaten our jobs.

There’s a lot to say for the human factor. Machines don’t vote. Politicians will side with stenographers when they learn how many stenographers they represent. But the bottom line is we have to put together resources to educate them. To do that, you matter.