The FTC has changed its complaint procedure. To briefly explain antitrust, companies aren’t allowed to work together to mislead consumers. By setting up dummy sites to mislead student consumers and making the stenographer shortage seem larger than it is, Speech-to-Text Institute, Veritext, and US Legal appear to be doing just that.
Please take five minutes to send this information to the FTC. More attention on the issue means a higher likelihood the government will act. First step, click this link. Now follow the pictures:
It’s important to mention that the NCRA was lied about. Here is proof.
Remember, more reports will mean higher likelihood of action. We are a field of nearly 30,000 stenographers being victimized by this illegal corporate conduct. Ask your fellow reporters to take this seriously. Single complaints are not resolved by the FTC. Hundreds or thousands will get their attention.
This likely concludes my work on the illegal conduct angle. In defense of our profession and the law I have spent the last many months documenting the illegal conduct. Now I need associations and stenographers across the country to take action. Feel free to tell the FTC it was my idea. Any agreements that restrain competition are illegal. Bamboozling consumers to affect the market counts. The government relies on Americans like us to report crime. If you were watching a robbery, would you call it in or would you sit by and say “well, no court has told me this is illegal?”
We all have a choice. I hope you call it in on this metaphorical “robbery in progress.”
P.S. Michael McDonner of Kentuckiana attempted to intimidate me by stating I was attempting to conspire with others by trying to get others to act on the illegal conduct. This is an example of the digital camp trying to scare us into inaction. It’s the same reason Naegeli threatened to sue me. I expect members of the digital camp to try to intimidate some of you. Know that arguably all of you with no direct clients are common law employees and not direct competitors and therefore cannot illegally conspire. We’re not the ones benefitting from the illegal market rigging. Do not let these bullying tactics stop you from doing what you know to be right.
By my estimates there are 20,000 freelancers and 28,000 court reporters total in this country. We do not receive much formal legal education beyond the terminology we might hear. This has left many of us confused on our legal rights. Even the agencies that hire us, schools that train us, and the members of the bench and bar we work with every day lack basic information about important concepts we are dealing with. This puts court reporters at a serious competitive disadvantage against anyone with the funds to hire a lawyer.
It’s time for change. If you are ready for that change, please take some time to answer this 8-question survey. I encourage you to share it with anyone you feel might answer it honestly. Every single honest answer will pave the way for taking this from concept to execution. This survey allows me to gauge interest and expand the project. I will release more information as soon as it is appropriate and safe to do so.
We must keep recruiting and sharing information. But I would like to remind everyone to take care of yourself this holiday season. If the stenographic newswire or some other issue is causing you to feel down, take care of yourself. Try to reach out to a support system. Humans are communal. You are not bad, wrong, or alone. You are human. You will be okay because all feelings change over time.
A very special thank you to every single one of my readers. Your readership has made this moment possible. Let me just note that Sound Professionals’ Chris Carfagno has let me know about their latest product announcement. I have always heard good things about SP; I have a great impression of Chris and have no problem recommending them. I will state that I do not believe I’ve personally used their products. When I used to use audio, I think I was using a mic sold by Stenograph at the time, which probably explains why I don’t use audio anymore. I have also started transitioning to Eclipse in honor of the Stenograph boycott. It feels great to be learning new skills and technology in my field and I would encourage every single reporter in the industry to give it a try. Eclipse provides robust training resources on top of its Anytime Support. I even had to call them recently (weekday, business hours), and they returned my call in under three minutes. Switching isn’t easy, but Eclipse has done all it can to make my transition pleasant. I have a feeling that once I am done, I will be able to honestly tell readers which software I prefer from a performance standpoint. Stay tuned.
PS. Stenograph reached out to the Texas Court Reporters Association board. My understanding is that there will be a future meeting in 2022 where members will be allowed to ask questions. This is why I called for the boycott. The more pressure we apply, the more urgent it is for them to curry favor with our associations and make us happy. It would make me personally happy if Stenograph acknowledged that digital court reporting will likely hurt minority speakers’ transcript accuracy. I give my word that if Stenograph makes such an acknowledgment, I will call off the boycott. Until then, let’s see how far those revenues can fall for 2022 and 2023 renewals as people continue canceling support. This profession will endure. Stenograph’s endurance relies upon its service to this profession.
For years, female attorneys and women in the legal field have written articles about or related to how they are mistaken for the court reporter or how they are not assumed to be a judge or lawyer. It happened in 2011. Happened again in 2017, though that article was apparently deleted. The topic hit Forbes in 2018, notably dropping the bit about being mistaken as a court reporter, and rather as court personnel. Then, again, in February 2019, being mistaken for the court reporter became an issue used to describe the blatant and ongoing sexism and illegal discrimination faced by women in law.
This raises plenty of good points on equality and illegal discrimination that women are likely facing in law and employment generally. I’ve previously opined that as independent contractors we all, including women, face fewer protections and greater barriers than employees. Indeed, there are hurdles we have to face in educating people about rates, and business, and getting everyone into a position where they can negotiate for the most amount of money every time. Where do we start?
That brings me to a really nice article and statement by Sharon Velazco. She very diplomatically writes out the importance of a reporter. She explains the talent and dedication needed to build the skills necessary to be a reporter. She sums it all up with something I could not have said better: Who wouldn’t want to be a court reporter? All too often we find ourselves falling into vitriolic attacks against people we disagree with. I find it hurts our cause more than helps. If we could all follow such perfect examples and take the time out to politely educate or inform people when they are wrong, it will make us stronger. It will correct the record. We will make it clear that this is a field that deserves the respect of the people it serves by example.
And by the looks of it, the women in the legal field will want us to be at the top of our game now more than ever. They will be at the forefront of calling out illegal discrimination and setting employment trends that protect employees, and the accuracy of the records we make may very well be a part of that. So thank you to every one of you that works on informing news reporters and legal professionals. You continue to bring ideas to the table and remind us of our own importance to those we serve and the legal process itself.