January 2020, Just Apply!

Courtesy of the links I’ve got up at Get A Real Job, here’s what we’ve got posted around the Internet at the start of the new year. Freelancers can check the bottom for some ideas. Just before we roll into that, remember that NYSCRA has a free mentoring program, and people can use NCRA’s Sourcebook for unconventional moves like finding a mentor. If you’re a student or a new reporter feeling kind of lost, you don’t have to go it alone, reach out. Even people five years on the job have said “wow, sometimes I feel like I need a mentor!”

But you’re not here for that. You’re here for the jobs, dammit. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this month we have the Bronx grand jury job still posted. That’s a Reporter / Stenographer title as a City of New York employee. Side note, the Queens DA site is down so I have no idea if they’re hiring. I guess I’ll have to snail mail them. More side notes, the DCAS Reporter Stenographer application scheduled in November has been postponed, and there does not seem to be a date for it on this DCAS schedule, up to April 2020.

There’s no civil service exam out for NYSUCS Court Reporters because they just had the last test in Summer 2019. They generally hold the test every 1 to 4 years though, so keep an eye out. Even though the civil service exam is probably a little way off, Court Reporter provisional applications are being accepted continuously statewide according to the website.

In the least predictable move ever made, we move on to federal jobs. There are three Southern District postings in New York, including part time and full time work. Whether that means they need three people or one really good one, go for it! There are also a number of federal positions all around the country. Maryland, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia, Massachusetts, Arkansas, Utah, Tennessee, North Carolina, Washington, Washington, D.C., and Florida. Remember what happens when they can’t get good stenographers in those positions. They settle for less. Spread these jobs around, don’t be shy.

From the freelance angle it is troubling to me that for years I rarely saw agencies advertise looking for steno reporters and yet I see many postings continue to pop up for digital reporters now. It is not inappropriate for stenographers to take this for what it is, a sign that securing private clients may be a way forward to secure future work, especially if our trade and methodology is not going to be front and center of these old businesses. Take the leap, file with NYS, get yourself on the vendor list of NYC VENDEX or NYS procurement, get on the insurance companies’ procurement lists. Navigating the business world is not an easy thing, but it is entirely possible for anyone that sits down and starts familiarizing themselves with how people buy and sell services and where to find people that buy what we do. Pricing is another monster to tackle. Depending on the contract, people might bid super low original prices just to get copies locked in. Some contracts don’t really have many copies so a high original is necessary. There’s no manual I know of, it’s all straight experience and getting yourself situated as a player in this game, not a pawn.

Let’s win it together in 2020!

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.

Pricing Yourself Out of the Market

In response to my previous articles on historic rate data in California and New York and my use of inflation to extrapolate forward what those rates should be today, a frequent-enough comment was that reporters would price themselves out of the market or somehow hurt the field if their rates were higher. I’m not blind to the realities of the market. I understand there are challenges to running a business, and a point where what we could ask for would be “too high.” I’m working on a bigger post for that too. But for now, let’s just dive into understanding how the game is played, at least in New York, and juxtapose it to the rest of the country.

Often the original is a deflated price to lock in work. If it’s Joe’s deposition, and Joe is your client, you might charge him 6, 7, or 8 dollars if he’s not a regular client. Who cares about Joe’s firm? He only has a deposition once a year. Might as well squeeze as much out of Joe as possible. But if Joe owns a huge firm and they’re involved into hundreds of suits and generating thousands of depositions, you might offer Joe $3.50, $2.00, whatever it is to lock in that work, even if you lose money on the original or don’t charge anything at all for the original. Why? Copies.

Copies are incredibly valuable. As I’ve written before, there’s no regulation in New York on them. Companies have, at least for the last decade, been offering reporters somewhere between $0.00 and $0.50 on copies. This gives the reporter the impression that they’re worthless. This gives companies an awful lot of wiggle room.

If your reporter is only taking 25 cents a copy, you can send a copy purchaser a bill for $4.00 a page. If they don’t complain and just pay it, you’ve just made a whole lot of money. If they complain, they just turned into a sales pitch target. “Oh, our agency has the highest quality standards and we do charge for that. But our reporter said you were such a joy to work with, so we’ve been authorized to cut your bill in half!” Doesn’t matter if it’s true. All that matters is they’ve just sold the person on the other end a positive feeling. “Wow! My bill is half! They like me, they really like me!” The reporter doesn’t know or care, they made their 25 cents. The agency doesn’t really care because printing copies is practically costless. Even on an inefficient home printer, the cost is somewhere in the realm of 25 cents a page, and pennies per page when you get into industrial printers.

So quite frankly, when an agency tells you that they can’t pay more on an original because that’s what they charge the attorney, they may or may not be lying. But it’s on you to understand that that does not mean that they’re doing poorly. That doesn’t mean they can’t afford to pay you better. It’s a tactic. They’re selling you a feeling too. “Wow. They’re paying me the whole O + 2. I feel greedy.” Anything that’ll get you to do the work for less without question and without competing with them directly is more money in their pocket. That’s the bottom line.

Reporters constantly berate each other too. “Why should you expect more? Have you improved your skills any?” But now it’s coming out that a brand-new startup company outside NY is ready to pay its brand new digital reporters $140 for the first two hours — which sounds a lot to me like a $140 minimum. They mention all these cities that they’re paying this in, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle. They say this is the average. Yet I keep hearing about how inexpensive digital reporting is. All the stenographers everywhere else make so much more that a $40 an hour cost to the agency is cheap? You know what all those cities have in common with New York City? They’re some of the most expensive to live in. They’re some of the most expensive to rent office space in.

We are not some anomaly where we just work for less here. You really think any of the so-called big boxes are looking at their profit and loss statements and saying “well, it’s New York, so we just work for less out there.” No. The money is coming in. It might not be coming from your original, but you can be damn sure that with a main office and 1 to 4 satellites, they’d have no problem raising your rates somewhere. But the issue is in our education. From a typical stenographic education, there’s very little business training. There’s very little market training. If you’re a kid, and this is your first real career, you’re not born with business sense. You can get suckered into a $60 bust fee (NY) because you just don’t know any better. People who had real-world experience made more starting out. If I was pulling $40k a year starting out, my best friend, a decade older, was pulling $100k. And, mind you, by all my calculations, even he was underpaid.

That’s the issue in New York, from my perspective. We lack education. We lack an appropriate model where kids out of school are shown the ropes and mentored. If you have a gaggle of agencies all saying that you expect too much or you’re only worth X, then you come to believe you’re only worth X. Yet here you are, seeing with your own eyes, that people with far less education, training, and experience in deposition reporting are being offered comparatively high rates. Remember, these folks, talented as they are, aren’t necessarily preparing the transcript. So let me ask you, reporters, is your hourly appearance fee $40? Forget real-time, rough, daily, expedite. Just for showing up, are you collecting $40 an hour?

What’s left? Talk to each other. Maybe consider pooling some money and starting a business. Make it very clear that they pay us or they compete with us. But don’t ever let me hear again that they can’t afford to raise rates. It’s a game. And the sooner you quit playing by their rules, the sooner you’ll win it. Rule one of any corporate culture I’ve ever been a part of? Don’t rock the boat. I’ve shown you that we’re better value than this digital craze. By all means, rock the boat and show them we can build better businesses too.

December Dirigibles 2019

First let me say, any student or reporter out there seeking a mentor, make sure you check out NYSCRA or any of the other associations offering mentoring. You owe it to yourself to find at least one person, but hopefully more than one, to show you the ropes and help you into and through your career.

With that out of the way, fly high in your career by checking out some of the jobs links below. Remember, you can get all of these links off of Get A Real Job.

Bronx Grand Jury Reporter/Stenographer has been up since 11/8. I hope everybody has applied, but if not, here’s your sign!

The Special Narcotics Prosecutor still has their posting for grand jury reporter up. I’d say that means it’s a great time to reapply or give them a call and make sure you know if and when they’re giving another test. Just note the DCAS test for Reporter/Stenographer is postponed.

Onondaga County Grand Jury is hiring. Thanks be to Adam Alweis for making sure every single one of us had a shot at this wonderful opportunity.

The court reporter provisional title is still up on the statewide NYSUCS postings. The list just came out last month, and if history is anything to go by the state is going to likely take people who passed the civil service test first. That said, it’s never a bad time to apply to be a court reporter today!

Southern District of New York, that’s federal court, is seeking a court reporter. If SDNY is too rich and famous for your tastes, there are over 10 postings for federal court reporters in Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Alabama, Arkansas, West Virginia, Washington State, and Washington D.C. It may be a misnomer, but the D.C. posting says district courts and bankruptcy courts. Bankruptcy courts had previously went the way of the recording, so every time a steno covers one of those, you’re trailblazing.

As always, the court reporter job board and CSR Nation are filled with activity. If you’re in the freelance world and having trouble finding work, these are good starting grounds. Make some connections. I’m hearing a blend of things from reporters in the freelance community. Some are thriving. Some are struggling. Don’t be afraid to admit to yourself that you are struggling and make changes that make your life better. Whether it’s taking on more complex work or dropping an agency relationship that isn’t working for you, you can find a strategy that works for you.

Consider taking on some private clients. With some of the biggest names in the business claiming they can’t find reporters, you might very well find yourself in a position to do what they can’t do and meet the needs of the deposition market with stenographic reporters. Look at all the job postings this year that have come up and been filled. Look at supply and demand. As so many siphon off to court, freelancers are in a position to make more money and take on more business now than in the last ten years here in New York. But that’s only if they quit dancing and make money moves.

I’ll just take this time to encourage people to take up the cause. Post jobs in your state. Join groups where reporters are. Share information. Even if you’re good, you might come across a valuable lead just when someone in your life or professional network needs it most. Even if you don’t believe that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, believe that we are stronger together. Know that every single one of you who have shared something about this field have made a difference.

The Original and What?

I’ve felt compelled to write about this for a few days. Here in NYC, we have a very interesting way of doing things. We were trained or told that the O+2 is automatic. The original and two copies in freelance gets covered, generally, under our original fee. That’s how it was when I was freelance, and for the majority, that’s how it is today. If I had to guess, I would assume it’s because attorneys generally waive our filing of the transcript under the CPLR, but to do that, everyone must get a copy. That lack of responsibility costs us!

Over the years, I’ve gotten to talk to people from outside our little bubble once or twice. You know what’s surprising? Most other places, the witness’s attorney pays for a copy. So not only are the copy rates generally higher than 25 cents, they’re much closer to Nex Dep’s $2, and charged along with the original.

What does this mean? Well, again, let’s take Nex Dep’s $4.00 original. In NYC, a regular deposition with a witness and two attorneys would get you $4.00 per page. Outside NYC? That witness’s attorney would be paying for the copy, meaning the reporter would be walking away with $6 a page on an original regular.

In all honesty, there are a lot of reporters out there who left the freelance business that would still be there today if they were walking away with $6 a page on their standard deposition. That’s just not the reality for most people today, and we have to face that. I raise it as an academic look at how we in NYC might just have to re-examine how we charge for these things. If our original is higher because our copies are so bad and one copy is free, then it makes good sense to demand the original is actually high.

That said, even today’s standards don’t make it impossible to bump up the rate so that reporters are making a better deal. One thing I was encouraged to do by mentors, and one thing that I would honestly encourage reporters to do? Upsell. Don’t be afraid to mention that you can do something expedited or daily. Don’t be afraid to ask them if they want a rough draft, if you can handle that work.

If your agency absolutely won’t come up on the regular rates, as I’ve suggested publicly they ought to, then get them to go up on the expedite charges and make sure you mention to the attorneys it’s a service you can provide. Work out the math. Let’s say you can promise a daily for, whatever, $2.50 more, and you can get a scopist to take it for $1.25, or even $2.00, that’s a profit. Treat your freelance career like a business, the Corporation of You. Do yourself a favor, take a look at what other people charge for, and ask yourself: Am I selling myself short?

Don’t know something? That’s okay. Ask around. I’ve spent over nine years asking questions. I am still asking questions. Why did my lawyer want $15 a page for depositions? How come agencies are crying shortage but refusing to raise my mentees’ rates? Why were CED’s reviews so bad? The only time anyone ever shamed me for asking questions, they were insecure because they didn’t know the answer. I’ll set out these questions for anyone brave enough to ask themselves:

  1. Are you happy with your career?
  2. If you are not, are you willing to learn the skills or techniques to get there? Are you willing to build on what you know to get where you want to be?
  3. If you are, will you help one more person obtain that happiness?

And now, what are you going to do?

October Occupations 2019

Before we get into this post I just want to say I updated the old Get A Job post to include the exams page of NYSUCS. I still say that every jobseeker in New York should be checking the pages linked there every 15 to 30 days to be safe. Share findings. Be committed to keeping everyone up to date. If everyone is talking about where the work is, nobody’s left in the dark.

Even though this page launches October 1, postings are only current as of September 30.

DANY is still hiring for their grand jury reporter position. It’s a great job. Definitely give it a shot.

Special Narcotics Prosecutor, as I recall, had a posting for one grand jury reporter. Now there’s a posting for two. I say that if you haven’t applied yet, it’s your lucky day, go for it.

The state court system is still accepting applications for the provisional court reporter job. If you didn’t take the test, it still might make sense to apply. If they didn’t get enough passes on the civil service exam, they’re going to need you.

Southern District, that’s federal court, is still looking for a reporter. Don’t let this great opportunity go to waste if you’ve got the certifications or skill necessary to work with SDNY.

There are over ten vacancies federally all around the country. If New York’s not where your heart is, no big deal, but you’re not allowed to leave (joke).

Plaza continues to keep a posting for court reporting and English instructors.

New Jersey has apparently started hiring for the first time in a long time. I had posted this on Facebook but not on Stenonymous. Hopefully the government has realized the inherent value of having someone personally responsible for making the record.

Freelancers, I know that there’s often not a lot of postings on here with regard to work for you. I will work on something that might help there. Until then, you’re free to check out my recent post on historic data and inflation, as it impacts every dollar we make every day we breathe. I have been getting emails from Magna claiming over $100 in bonus fees. Now that I think about it, this probably gives you a clue what’s actually being charged for appearance fees, and a peak into the law of supply and demand. You’re in demand. Your skills are in demand. Act accordingly, do great work, and make a great record.

Fun fact. In the editor this post has no bullet points. In the preview it does. Which version will everyone see? That is the question. If you’ve ever wondered why some posts seem to have bizarre formatting, I blame computers.

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.



















To Our Litigators

RE: Stenographic Reporters

If you’re reading, I’m going to hope you’re the kind of lawyer that we all look up to. You’re responsive to clients, you’re honest with potential clients about what you can do for them, and you’re ready when it comes to filings, motions, discovery, or trial. Maybe you’re the one at your firm tailoring your service to your client’s budget, or maybe you oversee someone doing that for you. But the end is the same, giving the consumer the best value for the budget.

That’s what urges me to write today. There has been a lot said about “AI” transcription and digital recording versus stenographic reporting. There has been a lot said in my field about the Ducker Report and a forecasted shortage of court reporters. Some brave companies are turning to remote reporting, where legal, to allow a stenographer to appear remotely. Other courageous reporters are doubling their workload to meet your demand.

There is one solution that’s come out known as digital reporting. The main idea is that someone will record the proceedings, run it through a computer program, and then someone will fix up what the computer does. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is what we stenographers actually do. The major difference is we are stenographically recording (typing!) every word, and the computer is accepting that stenographic word and turning it into your English transcript.

The bottom line is: It simply ends up being more efficient to do it our way. One person, perhaps two, can stenographically record and transcribe an entire proceeding and have it to you that night or the next morning. For your dollar, there’s just not better value. Stenographers type four to five times faster than your average typist, so to finish the same proceeding, we are talking about four or five times the usual turnaround time for transcribers, or four or five times the staffing. Take the number of stenographers you have today, and multiply that number by 3, 4, or 5. If you think there’s a shortage and/or workflow issues now, imagine a world where you need five court reporters to put together your one proceeding. Imagine a world where the transcript is questioned and you need to bring those people in to testify instead of one stenographer.

Trust me when I say the firms switching to digital reporting or demanding you change your deposition notices to allow digital reporters are not saving you or your clients any money. Ever notice how there are almost never prices posted online for services? That’s because most of these companies act as middlemen. They make an agreement with you or the insurer, and then they make an agreement with us, the stenographers or transcribers, and they keep what’s in the middle. It’s really that simple. I would not be surprised, as a stenographer, to learn that I only made $3.25 a page on some of my old depositions with 25 cents per copy while the agency I worked with charged whatever they charged. 5? 6? 7? I don’t know. I only know that when I consulted a lawyer, the lawyer wanted almost 15 dollars a page if my case went to depositions.

I’ve been a stenographer for a long time, and I see two roads that you, the litigators, may take. You can let the sellers decide the market, and eventually stenographers won’t be an option, or you can make a sustained demand for a stenographic reporter at every dep. When lawyers start turning to direct market apps like Appear Me, Expedite Legal, and NexDep to get stenographers, those agencies pushing the digital and AI will jump on board and do whatever it takes to increase your supply of stenographers and get your business back.

Stenographers have been serving the legal community for decades. There’s been a push in recent years to do away with us because of a public perception that our methods are antiquated. Ironically, the people leading this charge are the companies we trusted with selling our services. So to our litigators: You now know all I know, and the customer is always right. Which will you choose?

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.

Tips for the Stenographer in Training

We started as a blog discussing issues for newbie reporters. In more recent times we’ve pushed this thing to encompass all kinds of issues, questions, and even political ideas. Perhaps it’s fitting to return, briefly, to the things that students can do to make their time in school more productive, less stressful, or even shorter. After all, the field needs new people, so logic tells us that efficiency in preparing and producing stenographers for the workforce is paramount.

Right out of the gate, let’s get one thing clear, respect perspectives. You will read things online and see things in the world that directly contradict what your teachers tell you. You will meet people that tell you that your teacher is wrong, or Stenonymous is wrong, or the world is wrong. Your newness to stenography may lead you to the conclusion that the most authoritative voice is correct. That way of thinking is an offshoot of the Might Makes Right logical fallacy, and may lead you down a hard road. Succinctly, take in opinions and asserted facts, but don’t draw too many conclusions. Everyone’s perspective is colored by their experience, and though our experiences may be similar, they are often quite different and can lead to wildly different advice.

With respect for what we just said, don’t be afraid to act. If you are so busy respecting other people’s perspectives that you never make any decisions, your progress will suffer. As an easy example, some reporters believe we must always use the number bar. Some reporters believe we must never use the number bar. You can respect both opinions. But in the end it is better for you to “pick a side” or develop your own method instead of trying to please everyone. Hesitation can make your job much harder than it needs to be.

Now for the good stuff. You want writing tips. That’s why you came. Here’s a look inside some common perspectives. Brief things you hear often. You may very well reach a point in your career where you are making 40,000 strokes a day with briefs. If everything takes two strokes, that’s more like 80,000 strokes. The amount of stress and strain on your hands is not a joke. Shorter writing can make you a faster writer.

Funny briefs work. You’ll remember them. It’s memorable. Just make them funny for you. It doesn’t matter if anyone else gets it. At one point in my own career every proceeding would start with the sections of law 240.30, 250.20. How long before they became TWAOEFT? Just to drive this point home, an old friend made up a brief for casino when we were in school a decade ago, SKWAOEPB. To this day, I remember it, and it doesn’t come up all that often at all in New York.

It’s better to write than lose. We’re expected to get pretty much everything in the working world. So if you have to make a choice between making a silly outline and dropping, write the silly outline. This can come in the form of condensed words (pseudo briefs) or even half words. For example, perhaps someone briefs “persuasive.” Finally, persuasive comes up — and someone doesn’t remember their brief. It’s okay to write “PER SWAEUF.” In some cases, it’s okay to write “PER.” For example, if the sentence is “The salesman was very persuasive when he sold me the car”, the only time you wouldn’t transcribe your PER as persuasive is if you don’t care or you’re not paying attention.

Testing with tactical drops. Most programs I’ve heard of count a missed word as an error, specifically one error. It doesn’t matter if the word is “Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia” or “hi.” So what happens, often, is students lock up or trip up on small words, and then a big word pops up, and all of it gets dropped or jumbled. So let’s analyze the fake test statement, “hi, my name is Joe, and I have had Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia since I was age 24 in 2018.” All things being equal, on test day, drop the big word and get all the little stuff. Those small words before the big one are potentially 9 errors. 9 errors versus 1. No contest. Please note, in the working world, you need the big words, but you also have the power to ask people to repeat themselves. Also, as a rider to the tactical drop, if you have to drop a word or punctuation while writing, drop the punctuation.

Practice fast. The whole point of speed building is being able to hear, process, and take down what you heard. Some practice slow and work on accuracy, and I hope that that works for them, but ultimately we are training our brains to hear the words and write with what educators call an “automatic response.” You want to be practicing at 10 to 20 words above your target speed. On that note, at least some of this has to do with muscle memory. Repetition is the name of the game. Don’t be afraid to take the same fast take over and over until you get it. Do that with enough takes, and your muscle memory becomes varied and fast over a wider variety of words. My take on slow practice? It’s working against you and training you to be slower. The only thing it might be good for is a confidence booster.

Know your numbers. It doesn’t matter if you use the number bar or not, you need to be very ready to hit numbers. Some of the most common numbers are years, and you should have easy ways to get those out. You can do funky things with the asterisk and lower letter keys to create creative number bar outlines, or you can create short forms. Everyone’s brain is different. Many people brief 2019 in one stroke. I do TWOEUPB TPHAOEPB. Yet with the 90s I do TPHAOEPB TPHAOEPB TPHAOEUPB, which translates literally to 19199, but because I defined it, comes up 1999. Three-stroke outlines are generally a no-no, but if you’re hitting it seamlessly, it hardly matters.

Try to practice interrupting. Worry about this one close to graduation. A lot of the tips so far have been about trying to get it or the tactical drop. Let’s touch on a working skill a lot of reporters don’t have practice with. The interrupt. In the working world there are folks out there that say just let the audio catch it. If you didn’t hear it, it may not be as clear as you think on that audio. So being able to interrupt is a valuable skill. If you have a family member or friend, see if they have time once a week or once a month to read to you. Ask them to read way fast every few pages so you can get a little practice with varying speeds and interrupting. Take note that how you ask can change outcomes. “I’m sorry, please repeat what you said” usually gets people to repeat exactly what they said. “What?” usually makes people expound on what they said or define what they said. Also note that interrupting is situational. Sometimes it makes sense to interrupt on the spot, and other times it makes sense to wait for a break to clarify names or spellings. No matter which way you shake it, how you do it matters. Be polite and professional.

Build your dictionary. There are two major schools of thought here. The first school is methodically go through and add outlines for stuff proactively from the dictionary or news. Another school of thought is to build your dictionary to the work that you do. Some people even maintain different dictionaries for different types of work. Succinctly, it doesn’t really matter what school you’re from, but you should always be adding stuff, with the understanding that anybody who’s taking the time to add stuff from Merriam Webster will have a larger and more complete dictionary.

Analyze misstrokes. If you have the same misstroke commonly enough, it’s either you or the machine. If you can’t get splits or stacks out of your writing, but they don’t conflict with anything else, just put it in. That misstroke that you fix manually every time just became a dictionary feature. In this same vein, if you have a close friend at school, maybe once every couple of months try transcribing each other’s notes. For one, it’ll teach you to read through “rough notes.” On the other hand, your friend may give you ideas that you wouldn’t have had by yourself.

Read back. Practice reading back out loud whether or not you have to do it alone. Practice reading back off notes and transcription. Read back is one of our important skills that we don’t get a lot of practice with. Speaking clearly is surprisingly helpful in matters of business, employment, and stenography. Your ability to speak well may not only affect on-the-job performance, but also whether or not you get a job at all.

Practice writing. At the very least, make sure you know how to compose polite, professional emails, a cover letter, a resume, and a rate sheet. We often like to assume we don’t need any help in this area, but as you have probably seen on this blog and from your fellow students, everyone makes mistakes, and practicing these functions before graduation will make you more employable.

Practice accents. A great deal of our training revolves around perfectly clear speakers at very high speeds. In the real world you may meet people that don’t speak particularly fast, but are not very clear speakers. The more time you get in school or training practicing this, the less difficult it will be during your work and the less likely you will make a critical mistake, such as misunderstanding testimony.

Create your own dictation. Are you having problems with a specific type of word? You can actually create a dictation tailored to the fingering problems you’re having. Get your creative writing on and take a few minutes to compose something, anything. Then you can even mark the thing for the speed you want. The manual way to mark for speed is to take your target speed and divide it by 4. That tells you how many words you need every 15 seconds. So 100 wpm goal divided by 4, you need 25 words every 15 seconds. Count 25 words, make a line. Then you time yourself reading with a stopwatch and hit your lines every 15 seconds. The automatic way to mark for speed is to use Todd Olivas’s Slasher. Alternatively, if you know anything about Python code, you can use my computer program. There are low barriers to creating your own dictation. Google has a stopwatch app and digital recorders can be as low as $50. Explained in more detail here.

Three chances to get it right. Our need to get it right is inviolable. A wise teacher said you’ve got three chances to get it correct, the writing, the transcription, and the proofreading. Countless working reporters skip that proofreading phase, and you may one day find yourself doing just that. That acknowledged, in your formative years and as you are learning, it will make you a better reporter to take that time to proofread your tests and early jobs. We make mistakes. It happens. We are new. The best way to identify mistakes is to take advantage of all the chances to get it right.

You are in charge of your destiny. We have been told by the arrogant that certain people are not fit to be a reporter, or that people over 30 cannot achieve high speeds. For some, this became truth. For others, this became a challenge. Determined reporters across the country have trained to do this. Whatever your issue, whether it be something you feel about yourself, or whether it be an inadequacy in your training, you can compensate and beat it. This is not meant to call anyone’s struggle illegitimate, but to point out that in the end the most likely descriptors of any endeavor are success or failure. Be a success. Everyone wants you to be a success and go on to help other people succeed, but it’s your action or inaction that’ll decide the outcome.

July 10, 2019 Update:

I came across this Doris Wong Blog and the Student Corner. Skimming it, it seems to talk about all kinds of things, and I agree with the writer on a lot of what they say.