Shortage Solutions 5: Public Perception

  • I know a stenographic educator or three, and one of them said to me recently that they believed the field would die. Being more quizzical than abrasive for once in my life, I asked why. The educator told me somberly that it was public perception. Succinctly, if everyone believes it is an antiquated job with no future, it’ll become an antiquated job with no future.
  • Of course, such a grim conclusion comes with some serious upsides. If everyone believes that the field of stenography is thriving — and if you follow my work, you know that I think it is — then we will see the thing become many times more vibrant than it is today. Every piece of positive press goes to showing the country that our field is strong. Every time you read something that is indicative of growth, we are actually growing a little more as a community. To their credit, Veritext sees this too, and is taking at least some interest and leadership in the public perception of the reporting industry by offering a .1 CEU webinar, and right at the top they say “re-popularizing the reporting profession together.”
  • As the news spreads that stenography is the thing to do, more people will invest in training stenographers and becoming stenographers, and the shortage might just take care of itself. To all those entities and allies in New York and around the country celebrating stenography, don’t be afraid to get some press into your events and let them in just a little on who we are and the importance of the record we protect. In many ways we have started on this road of positivity and changing perceptions, and I am not the first to propose this idea, but I am happy to be a part of spreading the message that this field has a future and can provide for the people and families in it.
  • The Positive Reporting Challenge

    Have you been on the stenography or court reporting subreddits? You may be surprised to see that those communities are not heavily populated by stenographers, but awash with electronic recording heralds.

    It’s no secret what they’re doing. They’re poaching people who have an interest in stenography or court reporting and siphoning them to recording. It’s out there in the open, it’s legal and allowed. Transcribers can be taken from a pool of people that know nothing about what we do or how much we make, and then put to work for far less than what they deserve for the job — our job.

    They rely on us being complacent and putting on a vitriolic, belligerent public face. They rely on us not taking notice or doing nothing about it. They rely on us not stepping in and saying: Yeah, you can go record, but you can also do what I do, and wow, what I do has given me a lot of success. They need people to become transcribers. The companies that want transcribers are on a recruitment drive, and they go directly to the root to get recruits, us.

    I say we take it back. One person described how their girlfriend just got a job recording for US Legal. You know what I did? I said wow, congratulations. But if she likes it, why doesn’t she try steno? She can get paid more for the same job! Encourage people. Empower people to step up the game and join the stenographic legion. And boy, did it enflame another user. He was all LOL tape recorders are taking your job.

    And now I realize — this strikes a nerve. It absolutely breaks their game when we come in and say: Hey, this is a great career, and you make more. I mean just by politely suggesting steno, I made someone explode.

    So what do I propose? I propose anyone who has five minutes this month sit down, make a Reddit account, head over there to the stenography or court reporting subreddit, and post something positive about steno, or post a resource for steno. Whether you had a great run for 30 years, or you mentored a student, or you have a wonderful resource for sten learners, or you have a great career right now, just go write about it. Let’s be honest, there are thousands of us. If just ten say something nice about steno, it drowns out the ads for ER and puts us in the best possible light.

    What’s business about? Presence. Location, location, location. And right now you’ve got ER sitting right under a sign labeled court reporting. Set up shop and put it out there for the public: This field’s here to stay.