New Mailing Address, Stenograph Update, and Academic Integrity, Oh My!

I’m relocating! Fan mail and things of that nature can go to 2744 Hylan Blvd, Unit 502, Staten Island, New York 10306. This is also where blog donations by check can go for those of you that prefer not to use the homepage box.

Sometime next week I’ll do an article on how Stenograph attempted to bully the Texas Court Reporters Association. As most of you know, I am against their push into automatic speech recognition for many reasons. The science we have today says ASR is only 25 to 80% accurate, yet they’ve billed it as a potential 50% productivity boost. That’s not possible. Stenograph has also slipped something into its licensing agreement where court reporters have to get releases for people’s voices or data being collected or run through the program. It doesn’t take a lawyer to tell us this is wrong. This is remarkably different from the apparent ethos of Eclipse on this matter, where they’re certainly developing ASR for use in stenographic software, but as of yet not attempting to shunt liability onto stenographers, and not, as far as I can see, making bogus productivity boost claims.

If you have digital court reporter transcripts you’d like to share with Dr. Halcyon Lawrence, please send them to me at Academics have now taken note of the opaque behavior of tech companies. In order for this to be further studied, and to protect the public, we must become serious about sharing our knowledge and experience with those, like Halycon, that seek truth and transparency. The freedom of speech afforded to us in the United States protects academic integrity, and academic integrity protects the scientific processes that make our society great. This social contract gives all of us a special power to influence the future and make the world a better place.

The next few years are critical for this field. Our actions decide whether the future we sold our students is bright and positive or a constant struggle against the private equity brigade that is trying to consolidate and crush our profession. Life is a game of survival. I am firmly on the side that chooses to design the game in a way that we all win. And if life must have winners and losers, then may the losers be those that thought they could rob the future from our students and that we would stand back and let them. We stand resolute and united: This is our profession. We will survive and thrive.

Selling to Veritext? Read This.

Veritext has become synonymous with the private equity (PE) model. It’s a model of buying, holding, and flipping companies for profit, often on a ten-year timeline, and occasionally loading the company up with debt via a leveraged buyout. Private equity companies seek out fragmented markets, seek a company in that market, and begin consolidating by buying up or merging with other companies in the business.

Court reporting itself is fragmented and the market is worth about $3 billion. Maybe 3,000 or 4,000 firms fight over that $3 billion and most of the money ends up going directly to stenographers. We’re in Jeffrey Hooke’s Myth of Private Equity book. That’s how cookie cutter this PE model is.

Media’s failure to report accurate information makes it harder for investors to make good decisions.

Succinctly, many of our agency owners are getting older. There’s nothing wrong with them selling to Veritext or any other company with big money.

What we must realize as a field is that big money only translates so well to big power. Big money is concerned with siphoning more money to the bottom line. People like me support the workers that make that bottom line possible. Put it this way. If you were facing murder charges, would you want $100 or 100 minds working on your case? This is why every dollar donated to me moves mountains versus digital court reporting’s decades-long “investor money bonfire.” Most of our money goes back into reinforcing our education and skills. Most of theirs goes into marketing. This means that any consumer actually looking at the facts is picking stenography.

Selling to Veritext? Enjoy the money. Feel free to shoot lots of information over to the stenographic free press.

Zombie Corporations in Court Reporting (2-minute video)

I’ve come to realize the blog is a good way to document issues and evidence, but a horrible way to explain them. The message gets lost. For example, some people believe that I do not believe there is a shortage. That is false. My argument is that our shortage is being exaggerated and exacerbated by the companies that stand to gain from our loss. My argument is that consumers are being lied to about the availability of stenographic court reporters. Another part of my argument is that the companies that are most vocal about our shortage are likely zombie companies. What’s that? Give me two minutes of your time and I’ll tell you.

Kentley Insights 2019 report on stenotype services suggested 1 in 4 court reporting companies are unprofitable.