On Thursday the Onondaga Criminal Court arraignments had a surprise visit from the embattled z-list court reporting personality, X, formerly known as George Santos. Santos, having been charged with being too compliant with police officers, was discovered to be a stenographer just shortly into the proceeding.
After the reveal, Mr. Santos was asked by the Court to relieve the official court reporter taking the proceedings. Mr. Santos allegedly turned to her, smiled, and said, “don’t worry, I got this. I’m the NCRA Fastest Fingers Award Winner of 2023. Elon Musk is going to buy you a horse for your trouble.”
Once Santos was behind the keys of the stenotype, the rest of it went well for him. In the transcript obtained by Court Tee Vee, an unprecedented situation unfolded.
THE COURT: Well, Mr. Santos, it seems there’s been a mistake. Your lawyer, Mr. Richards, has pointed out that the accusatory instrument has a fatal defect. The case is dismissed and sealed.
THE PROSECUTOR: Oh, Mr. Santos, we are so, so sorry for our malicious prosecution. Please don’t use the transcript of this proceeding to sue us.
MR. RICHARDS: My client is a benevolent and understanding person. In addition to being the first man to the moon and the only person to single handedly save an entire school bus of children with his left pinky, he donated enough to charity to end world hunger and eliminated unemployment worldwide. There’s no reason for him to sue you, and your apology is humbly accepted.
THE COURT: By the way, Mr. Santos, thank you for ending the court reporter shortage fraud by creating a controversy so obnoxious that there isn’t a single person that hasn’t heard of stenography. That was a bold move, and it really paid off for your profession, they should be proud.
THE DEFENDANT: Your Honor, it was no trouble. The court reporters living here and working every day to make this county shine, they’re the real heroes.
(Whereupon, court officers and court clerks all broke into tears as the sun shone through an open window and a beam of light cast a spotlight on X, formerly known as George Santos. As he exited the courtroom, a flock of doves carrying the mice from Cinderella fluttered through the window and dropped their furry friends, and everyone left the courtroom while singing We All Lift Together from the worldwide critically acclaimed MMORPG Warframe. Yes, including the mice and doves.)
Critics question the parenthetical at the end. Court officers, known for their professionalism, helpfulness, and dedication to the safety of courthouses, and clerks, also known for their professionalism and dedication to the just and fair operation of courthouses, simply don’t do that kind of thing. A source speaking on the condition of anonymity stated that in reality, the relieved stenographer was actually 1,567% more qualified than Santos, so we’re not really sure what occurred that day.
Breaking news. Check back for more updates.
*None of this is real. It’s part of Stenonymous Whatever I Want Weekends, a thing I just made up for when I want to do something different like this parody of so many flavors. According to a source that wishes to remain anonymous, in the incident this was based on, the erroneously-charged case was dismissed and sealed 14 days after arraignment. The source believes that a small percentage of our field does not understand the gravity of our work and how it can impact people’s lives, and that by making this excerpt and attached writing exercise public, we can all be reminded that anyone can be charged with anything, and that treating all lawyers, litigants, and the public equally is imperative. “It could be any of us one day,” he said.
Thanks again, Anonymous. I share these beliefs, but even if I didn’t, I’d probably have published anyway for the literary and conceptual value.
From Anonymous and myself, thank you for making this profession shine every day with your hard work and dedication.
The National Court Reporters Association released a white paper, Emerging Ethical and Legal Issues Related to the Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR), Voice Cloning, and Digital Audio Recording of Legal Proceedings.
There was a past blog post complaining about how I felt my work on this white paper was mothballed. I suppose I have to retract that now that it’s been released.
Thank you to everyone that took part in drafting the white paper. It’s something I submitted quite a lot to during my time in STRONG and was very important to me.
P.S. for anyone that follows the social media antics, I lost way worse than I thought I was going to, so I’m going to keep this one brief 😂.
The National Court Reporters Association announced that testing procedures will now be a self-launched/self-authenticated process. I suspect this is a good thing. From my talks with people over the years and even slightly from my own experience I could see the pitfalls of the old way. Proctors were people given general training to administer general tests, and our testing process was reportedly facing problems because proctors were disconnecting or making unreasonable demands.
This doesn’t give you license to cheat though. Security issues are still going to be flagged and sent to NCRA for review.
I’m happy the NCRA’s responsiveness to members is going up. I wonder what “precipitated” that…
A Stenonymous source came through for me on something the National Court Reporters Association is doing to prevent the sunset of the Tennessee Board of Court Reporting. Advocacy Center link went out. Sample letter and phone call templates were released for those that want to spend the time standing up for standards in court reporting. Get ‘em from your state leaders.
There were also posts on social media about organizing.
Just for the sake of completeness, the sample letter in my possession is available for download.
I don’t always have good things to say about the National Court Reporters Association, but I will say that their responsiveness to state issues has been much better than it was once rumored to be. One New York source, for example, said that many years ago, the source called about New York cutting Workers Comp reporters, and that person was reportedly told that it was a state issue and that they’re federal. That basically meant “not our problem, deal with it.”
Let’s just say that if that line of logic existed in the NCRA ethos, it doesn’t seem to anymore. The organization has taken steps to become more supportive of state issues. Indiana was one example I can recall off the top of my head as of writing. I’ve said it online before, we need to decide if we want a profession or a club. If NCRA keeps on this path of responsiveness and communication, it’s a good sign we want to be a profession. It’s a good chance we’ll succeed.
My only real gripe is it took a couple of hours for this information to be leaked to me despite having so many Stenonymous sources…
Likely due to member pressure for a more transparent National Court Reporters Association and internet backlash, the NCRA’s holding a meeting on August 29th. Interested members can attend by using the Learning Center link.
I do point to the little jab at social media negativity at the bottom though. I would agree that it’s unfortunate that we have to start trashing the organization for it to pay attention, but here we are. Please don’t treat us like we’re the problem. We’re a symptom of something past administrations were ignorant about or willfully ignored. Again, that is not Kristin Anderson’s fault. Stenonymous sources report high hopes for this presidency. I have high hopes too. But please understand it’s simple math, the more deaf the organization, the less likely we’ll be shamed into silence because of our ostensibly improper “negativity.”
I also genuinely agree with the part about respecting the space. Don’t disrespect people at their own meetings. Though I won’t be in attendance, I’m happy to publish members’ statements about it. In my view, meetings like this are a time to open dialogue and connection. Try your best at that. You can always media bash later if something is really eating at you. After all, you have the stenographic free press on your side.
In a world where regular journalists are afraid to cover actual news, I suspect citizen journalists are going to fill the gaps. Don’t let anyone mislead you into believing our field’s news is not important. Court officials in some parts of the country have said outright that we’re integral to democracy. The largest threat to guardians of the record and the accuracy of court records was a corporate play that the government and pretty much anybody with power to help sat back and watched happen.
Don’t let anyone fool you into believing we do not need a media arm for this profession. Have you ever noticed that anything that wants to remain relevant has a media arm? The various sports, Congress, movies & Hollywood, music, video gaming, celebrities, milk. For years court reporter culture was about being quiet about who we are and what we make because people were scared the public would turn around and do away with us. Then the science came out that we were better than alternatives and still we can’t be bothered to muster up the courage to advertise this nationwide and bring back demand for stenographic jobs. There’s something very wrong there.
If you want to support budding free press for the court reporting industry, consider donating $5 today on the front page of Stenonymous.com for the 5+ years I’ve been publishing for our community. If you’re enjoying Stenonymous, you are not alone.
I’ll start with an admission: The headline is not entirely fair. It’s my belief that the individuals involved with NCRA care very much individually. Especially STRONG. But the organization itself has problems, and I’m ready to write about what I’ve experienced and largely why I no longer have confidence in the association.
I do take umbrage with the whole concept of “don’t use social media to discuss the issues.” It restricts effective communication? As a guy who runs the equivalent of a stenographic spy network, I would say the communication’s pretty poor no matter what we do. In the time that it took to systematically dismantle the corporate campaign against stenographers, I’m hard pressed to name anything NCRA has done besides conventions and business as usual. Telling us not to discuss the issues is basically saying “we do not want you to participate.” I have found in my dealings with NCRA that the association doesn’t do anything unless you have an army at your back, and social media is exactly how that army organizes. The army wouldn’t need to organize in the first place if the association was proactive instead of always playing damage control. That’s not Kristin Anderson’s fault. She’s doing what she has to do as president of the association. But there is a real deafness in NCRA’s organization culture and core.
Let me put out there that I was not, historically, an NCRA hater. In my early years I disagreed with some stuff, but overall, I saw the benefit of a large national association for stenographers. I used the power of media to change minds when Frank N Sense was harping on NCRA. I joined NCRA STRONG and put in a lot of effort to try to make a difference, including preparation of a draft white paper and video to help get the message out there that there were issues with recording versus stenography. My efforts were mothballed without explanation. See that from my perspective: Took the time to volunteer, attend discussions, work on materials, and then had hours of time deleted for a reason I was never given. It’s amazing I didn’t call them out right then and there. Then I proposed a series of amendments in 2021 and one of them was so popular that the NCRA made up a reason it couldn’t be voted on. That’s right, this organization that’s always whining for people to take part didn’t even allow members to vote on what I proposed.
Then I had my medical incident, and I wrote some stuff about Dave Wenhold, the Executive Director, that I didn’t have the evidence for, and that was wrong of me. And I genuinely understand if people in the NCRA felt unsure about me at that point, but I was still trying to be a team player and alerted the organization to the fact that its name was being used to spread lies. I also became a National Court Reporters Foundation Angel in 2022. Next thing I know, it’s two or three months after the incident, and I’ve got then-president Dibble calling me to write something retracting what I said about Dave. At first, because I was still recovering from what I had been through, I was genuinely hesitant. I didn’t know what to believe, and I said something along the lines of “I get that you guys want what you want, but don’t discard the information I sent you.” It was only at THAT point that the lie about NCRA got scrubbed from the internet, presumably thanks to action taken by them. But I felt heard, and my recovery progressed to the point where I knew what to believe, so I did what I had been asked to do.
Next thing that happened was I tried to put together an advertising campaign for the Journal of Court Reporting to the tune of thousands of dollars. The idea behind the scenes was that our antitrust training was incomplete, and I was going to make connections and start building interest in re-imagining it. For example, the NCRA says you can’t discuss rates. That’s a lie. Right on the FTC site it says trade associations can collect and distribute aggregated rate data. The ad didn’t talk about any of that, it just gave the name of the project. You can see the ad image here. That got rejected. Sohere’s an organization that’s resistant to telling the truth. Why? Do you think stenographers are too stupid to understand the nuance that the association doesn’t entertain rates discussions because it can lead to a lawsuit? And if you do think that way about us, why are we paying dues?
There was also a point where I nominated a stenographer from New York that has done amazing things for the field to be a FAPR. Not only was he not made a FAPR, but the rules were subsequently changed so that he would no longer be eligible. And, I, moron that I am, continued to give the NCRA a pass, and even promote them where I could.
But now the silence is broken. There have been a number of things that have come to my attention over the past week. A lot of the small stuff, I still give a pass. It’s hard to run an organization like NCRA. But the continued alienation of the organization’s strongest supporters is disgusting. I have watched with my own eyes a die-hard supporter that had just about every idea she ever had struck down. I’ve heard that a certain educator — one that has gotten graduation times down to a year in some cases and set the wheels in motion to sponsor lots of students for the convention — wasn’t acknowledged. I’ve heard that someone with a real talent for putting together events was looked at as competition and not potential collaboration. I’ve heard the qualifiers weren’t fully acknowledged. I’ve heard that a student got escorted off premises at the convention. Again and again, stories of people giving what they can and getting shit on for it. And that’s just this year. If any of you are reading, here’s a question: Why does an organization begging for talent shit on all its potential talent?
Well, I’m here to tell all of you: You are not alone. They did this shit to me too, and I tried the whole grin and bear it thing for the greater good. It’s not worth it. They don’t change direction. They just cycle to the next president and we all hope it’ll work out better this year. It doesn’t matter who’s in leadership, the organizational inertia just comes up with reasons why we can’t do whatever the members, volunteers, or probably even board members want to do.
It’s become clear to me that the direction that the NCRA is headed is going to continue alienating members, the membership is going to dwindle, eventually the digital-friendly stenographers will have enough votes to pass digital membership, and then the corporations I’ve been blogging about are going to co-opt the organization, its resources, and the brand recognition. And even if they don’t go that way — and it would be dumb for them not to — the dwindling membership is going to let all our enemies point and say “look, all their members are retiring, it must be the shortage. Guess we just have to use digital.”
At this point, the NCRA as an organization is a liability. People believe in it as a vehicle for change and they waste their time pushing for incremental changes that never really amount to anything as we continue to slide back in wages adjusted for inflation and lose jobs to other methods. The myopic tunnel vision of “sticking to what works” isn’t working in this decade. These people can all make a real difference. They’re being held back. They’re not being given the institutional support necessary to foster a healthy profession. And if that support isn’t forthcoming, then what’s the point in donating any amount of time? We’d be better off privatizing our efforts a la the Project Steno thing.
There’s a quote out there, “hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. And, weak men create hard times.” Maybe that’s what happened. The golden era of stenography made us top of the food chain. By the time I got here, the bulk of us had no idea how to compete. So when competition came calling, Steve Townsend basically ran circles around everybody, because he’s damn smart. This is not to say the amazing women of this profession are weak or stupid. They are this profession. But many were not set up to succeed. After all, their 100-year-old associations had made no institutional ties to help safeguard against the propaganda campaign that was sprung on them.
What more is there to say? If there’s interest in starting a new national stenographic association with safeguards against institutional inertia, then I’d be happy to put that together and seek pledges. One idea I’ve had in the past is a grand assembly type structure that can petition or even force the board / organization to act as long as it’s not a violation of law. Maybe the mere threat of more competition arising will encourage organizational change. Every person alienated will become another potential ally for me. Good luck, NCRA. I suppose this is my very public resignation from an association I held in the highest regard. I’m sorry it has to be this way, but I am a slave to my moral compass as much as anyone. I will always do my best to be fair. But what was done to me was not fair. What’s done to others isn’t fair. Silencing ourselves for some greater good that never comes isn’t right. And if any of you are feeling that, remember that this blog exists for your
The white paper I was upset about in this post was released in November 2023.
There’s an email that goes out to many NCRA members about letting them acquire the attendance list of the NCRA convention. I first came across this maybe two years ago, and when I asked the NCRA at the time, they said they don’t sell that information.
The email is making rounds again, and it’s been confirmed on social media by various court reporters that this is a frequent occurrence and that NCRA does not sell the data.
The safest thing you can do with regard to any email about the attendees list is delete it!
I later came across this post by NCRA President Jason Meadors.
A court reporter later shared the text of a communication they received from NCRA regarding this issue:
While scouring social media, I came across an interesting post by Nancy Silberger. It mentioned the Better Business Bureau reviews for ProctorU.
This is not entirely surprising. I think most people only complain to BBB when they feel mistreated by business. But some of the complaints were striking. I know the only time I used the BBB was when Naegeli threatened me. It wasn’t helpful, but it does create a record.
Anyway, people came forward to discuss their feelings and ideas regarding testing and ProctorU.
What Dineen had to say really resonated with me. I personally believe AudioSync has massively deteriorated the interrupting skills of court reporters. But at this point, we have to contend with the reality that it is widely used on the job and using it effectively is part of the job for most court reporters and scopists. Even limited use would probably upgrade our pass rate significantly.
Just for the sake of completeness, I glanced over the BBB reviews too. Better Business Bureau isn’t infallible, but It’s pretty horrifying stuff for tests far less technical than ours.
As I was preparing for this post, a reader sent me an old Speech-to-Text Institute article with Marybeth Everhart, Realtime Coach. With hindsight, I can say that this supports the assertion that we need change. The ProctorU problems aside for a moment, I’ve been looked down on at times because I won’t refer to digitals as button pushers or recorders. Well, someone from the platform we use for our testing was pretty openly digital friendly.
And, unfortunately, as we later learned, the Speech-to-Text Institute is a propaganda outfit and corporate construct meant to manipulate the court reporting & stenotype services market. So, not to say that RTC is guilty of the same fraud I’ve alleged against Veritext et al, but for a field that used to care very much about bias or the appearance of bias, it does feel like all the major players, including ones we rely on for passing our students, are pretty biased in favor of expanding digital reporting, a position that is kind of strange to have if stenography is the gold standard and we haven’t tried other methods of alleviating the shortage, like asking lawyers to schedule with us in advance instead of the day before.
Even worse, digital proponents attack our testing procedures from the other direction, with Stenograph President Anir Dutta having stated in a letter, “…the national and state recognized process to certify a machine shorthand professional is unnecessarily arduous and, in our informed assessment, is designed to keep the number of stenographers entering the market artificially low.” I missed that line when I first reported about it, but I do find it kind of funny that while I have basically accused the companies under the Speech-to-Text Institute umbrella of manipulating the market to increase the number of court reporters create a market glut, depressing reporter incomes, they turned around and alleged that someone designed the state and national testing process to artificially reduce the number of stenographers. Since the National Court Reporters Association is basically the national test process, I think it’s safe to assume what organization they’re throwing shade on here, and it makes me rethink Anir’s NCRA comments a little bit more than I was thinking about them after he apologized to me.
In the hopes of a better tomorrow, I’m amplifying this discussion. Perhaps our next step is to have a serious look into which online proctoring companies have the best reviews and consider asking NCRA to make the switch.
In a May 5, 2023 article by Tracey Read, issues with recording were addressed. Interestingly to me, there was a blurb in there about our shortage.
You might look at that and say, “so what?”
Remember those Speech-to-Text Institute folks that I call frauds? Well, let’s just take a look at this screenshot from what I just linked.
On May 6, 2023, I reached out to NCRA to find out if this article was accurate, and I will publish the response, if any, in an addendum at the bottom of this post. If there’s no addendum, assume no response yet. I’d say check back in a week. As of now, all I’ve been told is “let us check and see where this might have come from, if anywhere, Christopher. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.”
Hopefully this makes it pretty clear why I’ve been so stuck on this issue. A shortage of 11,345 is a lot different than a shortage of 5,500, and now we have in print two very different numbers for 2023.
It seems pretty clear to me that our shortage is less severe than was forecasted, which means that it is more manageable than we have been told for about 5 years, which means that the big boxes in the Speech-to-Text Institute Bloc, having as much market share and working with as many reporters as they do, knew for a fact that the shortage was not as bad as forecasted, and perpetuated the lie anyway.
It’s bittersweet for me. I have been writing about the possibility of false claims being used to demoralize stenographers for almost half a decade, maybe longer. Many who have examined my writing and documentation over the years agree that there is something suspicious going on in stenography land. But many don’t have the time to investigate years worth of chronological discoveries and analyses. And quite frankly, after my medical issues in late 2021, it was easier for some to dismiss me entirely than to believe that such misconduct was occurring in our field.
But this should give stenographers a lot of hope. The shortage is less severe than forecasted. The NCRA is indisputably the strongest court reporting association and in the best position to address the court reporter shortage to the extent that it does exist. And as word spreads that the situation is not hopeless, as so many shills would have had my colleagues believe, we have a chance at drawing in investors to create new and better schools, and expand and improve existing programs in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
In a stunning turn of events, Chief Justice Honorable John G. Roberts declared that stenographers will no longer be necessary for the trial courts. “I am quite sure that we can just record it. Everyone knows that if you decrease the supply of court reporting vendors by getting rid of stenographers and the demand remains the same, prices will go down. That’s Economics 101. We could save the judiciary a lot of money by turning it completely over to corporations and paying them for a deficit product. The frequency of reconstruction hearings is only going to be as often as the audio fails, which we conveniently have and collect no data for, so it must be rare. I don’t really care to read trial court records before I make my rulings anyway. I’m ready for the future.” Stenonymous.com called for national protests, leading to a large gathering of stenography supporters in New York City.
In other news…
Inventor invents a new stenotype containing an actual C on the keyboard. Court reporters everywhere are furious!
Jury finds Staten Island stenographer guilty of blogging while under the influence, defendant remanded. Trial to be held five years from now due to understaffing.
NCRA Spokesperson: “Our next legislative move will be universal parking passes for stenographers. Never wait for your parking to get validated again.”
Commenting on the accuracy of court records, Elvis Presley has words for stenographers: Thank you very much.
Elon Musk dictates to classroom of stenographers in training.
First raise in 30 years! Local stenographer celebrates 10-cent surprise.
Suspect asks for a lawyer dog. Lawyer dog swears he’s not a cat. Stenographers weigh in.
*None of this is true. It is part of Stenonymous Satire Weekends, a project meant to entertain the court reporting audience of this blog and catch search engine attention by integrating court reporting with current events and prominent figures. We have a corporate fraud problem in court reporting that the media won’t report on and the government won’t do anything about, so we’re reduced to fundraising until we can simply advertise deluge-style and publicly shame all the people and organizations in power who had a chance to do something and didn’t. Until that fundraising comes in, which will be sometime between now and never, Stenonymous will continue to archive, entertain, and informwith the help of its audience and the stenographers that support the blog.
The picture is from the day of the Trump arraignment in New York City, but has been modified.
Based on the most current data, at 2% of revenue, court reporters could afford an annual advertising campaign of $21.6 million(assumes $60,000 median pay x 18,000 court reporters. In some estimates, there are as many as 30,000 court reporters.BLS statistics in court reporting may be inaccurate, as the BLS continues to decrease the number of jobs despite consistently forecasting an increase in the number of jobs.