StenoKey, Stenographic Education Innovation?

On June 19, I had the privilege of getting to talk with Katiana Walton from StenoKey. I’ve mentioned her program from time to time right alongside things like NCRA’s A to Z, Project Steno, and Open Steno as major positives for this field, but I never had a good grasp of what StenoKey was about. The discussion we had changed all that, and now I get to give readers a synopsis of all the good StenoKey is looking to do for our field and our students.

StenoKey is looking to have a science-based approach to learning. There are many reasons students struggle in stenographic programs, and the way they learn might just be one of them. As it was explained to me, Ms. Walton could’ve opened a traditional school in Florida right now, but because she’s looking to innovate, she must prove to the State of Florida that her method works in order to have a school. That’s where this pilot program comes in.

Centered on Magnum theory, StenoKey utilizes Realtime Coach to grade students instantly. Instead of a traditional model where students learn theory and then move into speed, StenoKey seeks to introduce speed right from the beginning. Students are expected to reach introductory levels of speed in each chapter, as high as 60 to 120 words per minute, before moving on to the next chapter. Briefs relevant to each chapter are also incorporated so that students have an early understanding of the concept of briefing.

Through practice logs, Ms. Walton is able to gauge each student’s level of engagement. This way, students that practice often but have difficulty progressing can receive relevant advice on what to practice to. Students that are not practicing can see in writing that they’re not practicing enough to make meaningful progress. In addition, students have designated times to call in, ask questions about things they’ve encountered during a lesson or take, and receive guidance or support. In the words of Ms. Walton, it “helps build community.”

Similar to our brick-and-mortar institutions, StenoKey seeks to get students to stop looking at the stenotype keys. As early as week two, students are encouraged to stop looking down. The program, by design, acknowledges that five-minute takes may be harder for people who are just starting out. Each chapter has a syllabic 120 WPM test. At chapters 11 to 20, that test is a 2 minute, 140 WPM test. By chapter 41, students are expected to be taking five-minute takes at up to 180 WPM.

The overall goal is not just to reach a working speed of 225, but to have students working towards RMR-like speeds of up to 240 to 260 WPM. Numbers, long the bane of learning reporters, are baked into the program from chapter 12 onward. As it is not yet a school, the program does not offer “academics,” but it does offer one grammar rule every chapter to keep students’ transcription sharp. In addition, it gets into the finer points of realtime writing by explaining conflicts. Magnum theory is conflict free, but the lessons go further by teaching learners about “inconsequential conflicts,” or conflicts that can be spotted and corrected easily during editing on a regular deposition or job.

Asked about superstars in the program, one learner was said to have made it through chapter 12 in six hours. Ms. Walton’s nieces, 12 and 14, also attend the program, and have completed 9 chapters. Part of the success of the program seems attributable to in-depth error analysis. Students are encouraged to identify and analyze their mistakes, either in how they practice or how they write, and fix it. Students are also encouraged to read each other’s notes because sometimes students have an easier time pointing out and learning from others’ mistakes than their own. Asked about the biggest challenge of running such a program, Ms. Walton admitted that not every individual commits to the program. Some just don’t put forward as much effort as they expressed they would during their introduction interview.

StenoKey is looking at helping people with all different learning styles. For visual learners, each chapter has two videos,¬† a professional video and a “Katiana Teaches” video. The videos work together to give students an in-depth understanding of each chapter. Student feedback from each chapter also goes into tweaking the program to be more successful. Not just for students, StenoKey also has had two working reporters join the program in order to improve their realtime writing. In that sense, StenoKey can also be viewed as a Realtime Development Program. “Magnum Steno is not hard to understand. It’s very systematic” says Walton. She explained that writers do not have to change their whole theory to adopt some Magnum and shorten their writing. “Look for what is holding you back in your writing. There are realtime reporters in every theory out there, and with the right mindset, you can be better.”

One might look at such an idea and wonder if there’s a way to get involved. To that end, Ms. Walton says she’s looking into the possibility of bringing on assistants for administering StenoKey and getting more people engaged with it. She may also be seeking a programmer to develop readback tools or materials.

At that point, Katiana had to go and counsel her program’s attendees. Before we hung up, I was able to get that the pilot program is currently $200 a month and always online. Currently, she’s looking at the possibility of having a longer, more valuable subscription model, and weighing options out. Overall, I think that the idea of fully integrating speed and theory is a valuable one. If students are able to hit working speeds faster than in the past, our shortage becomes a bad memory for the next three decades and beyond. I would urge associations and schools to keep an eye on developments here. If the results start coming in that this is a better method, it may be worth putting some money down on the expansion or adoption of this type of educational innovation. From a distance, I’ve read a little about Walton’s Lady Steno Speed Clinic. I’ve seen the testimonials. I know her heart’s in the right place when it comes to this field. I hope we’ll see similar success and glowing reviews for StenoKey!

The Impossible Institute

Let me set the timeline for everybody. It’s 2008. Schools are seeing some pretty nice numbers, maybe 60 a trimester where I was. Court reporting steno schools are saying this is a timeless, guaranteed profession. Obsolescence is impossible and there will always be tons of work. 2010 comes along, and my class of reporters is told by the market there’s no work. There’s a glut. Too many reporters, not enough work. We’ll start you at what they made in 1991 because we’re such benevolent people. And by the way, rate increase is impossible. By 2014, there’s news of a shortage incoming. and by 2018, the shortage is in full swing, and even here in New York, where you had agencies like Diamond not paying their people copies, unless they really liked them, they started paying copies to a larger percentage of their reporters. That was after almost a decade of such a terrible cost to the agency being deemed impossible. Thanks, partner.

So it’s interesting whenever someone tells me something can’t happen, won’t happen, or is impossible. It’s equally interesting when someone comes out with an authoritative and definite prediction, that something must happen. So I briefly reviewed some materials out of STTI, the new mouthpiece of the anti-steno business coalition. Completely ignoring the resurgence of American stenography and my series of ten shortage solutions, the STI says crunch the numbers, it’s impossible for schools to meet the forecasted shortage of 8,000 reporters by 2020. Well, maybe, when we go by the information from 2013, it seems unlikely. But when you can log into the Open Steno Discord and see almost 100 people online on a Saturday morning in 2019, and you can see for yourself the constant efforts of A to Z, Project Steno, and private schools, it seems like these so-called experts have little more than a BA in BS.

Don’t take it from me, look at their own words. They try to pin the blame on NCRA for not adopting voice writing wholesale. But what kind of argument is that? Voice writing has been around since World War II, but the NCRA didn’t adopt it, so now it’s too late, digital wins. If anything, that tells me that if the NCRA doesn’t adopt it, it doesn’t fly. If we, the stenographers in the marketplace today, do not accept your inferior methodology, and keep marketing ourselves, we stay on top. If they’re so sure that these steno-centric programs won’t work, why bother saying they cannot win? Simple. They’re guarding an empty city. If they get you to give up recruiting, educating, and empowering your fellow reporters, the market’s open for them to come in and pick up the pieces. You decide whether that happens. Are you going to let five people scare off 20,000 of you?

Look no further than their straw man future predictions to see how weak their argument is. What will the market look like in 2039? What will happen in 20 years? You don’t know. Nobody knows. So when the “experts” tell you what’ll happen, they hope it’ll give you a sense of security, and you’ll act or fail to act, and become a participant in their version of the future. That’s how that works. It’s an echo chamber claiming steno will fail in the hopes that that’s how things roll. Are you going to fall for it?

I’m generally not going to cover the STI too much on this blog. Who wants to give clicks to a cherry picking propaganda outfit? But look at the beginning of this post again. Look at all the people who made claims that turned out to be untrue. I’ll give you one more. In 2017, I was told more or less not to bother with this blog because nobody would read it or find what I had to say credible. It was impossible. This year I had 13,000 views and 6,000 visitors. Here’s a prediction. You can do that. You can do anything you’ve got motivation for. And you can do it a heck of a lot better than the experts. I’d say the people out there working every day are the experts. To wrap this up, let’s just say that if someone is telling you that something is impossible, or that something is definitely going to happen, you want to look at their motives before you buy in. Last question. What’s your next move?

Loans, School, & You

A great deal of people ask questions like “should I take out a loan for school?” “Is it better to pay out of pocket?” Everyone’s situation is a little different and everyone has a different motivation for schooling, particularly court reporting or stenography schooling, but maybe if we focus on one thing that is the same, we can help potential students decide what’s best for them.

Loans and interest confuse people. There are hundreds of articles on the topic and lots of ways it’s been explained. Today, there are many people coming out against the unfairness of school loans because they pay, and they pay, and the amount never seems to go down. People have even claimed to have paid $20,000 on a $40,000 debt, and still owed $37,000.

Why does that matter? If you understand this stuff, you can avoid being in that situation and you can help others avoid being in that situation. First we’ll go back to savings loans. If you’re around my age, you probably learned about savings interest and had a cursory lesson in compound interest. If you have $100 in an account and it earns 1% interest, you’ll have $101. That $101 goes on to make $1.01 in interest — and it just keeps adding together and snowballing.

Here’s what most modern education never teaches: Loans are the opposite. The interest keeps building up what you owe if you don’t pay it. Let’s create a fictional loan to understand it. The compound interest is now working against you under a new name, capitalized interest. Let’s say you take out $40,000, and your interest is only a magical $33 a month (about 1 percent a year), and the lender only wants a payment of $100 plus interest. So you’re expected to make monthly payments of $133. Ignoring the fact that it would take a long time to pay off this loan, what happens if you miss a payment? The interest gets added to the principal, or total amount you owe. So now you owe $40,033. Now your interest payments are $33.36! And every time you make a payment that doesn’t cover the interest, the interest gets added to the principal, making the interest even higher, and making the monthly payment even more difficult to meet. In many things in life, trying your best will land you in an okay spot. With loan payments, you’ve either got it or you don’t, and not having it can make your situation worse.

So what does this mean? In a nutshell, if you are not pretty sure that you will be able to meet your minimum monthly payments every single month, it does not ever make sense to take out a loan. Missing just one payment can make repayment even harder and increase the chance of missing future payments. If you’re going to set out on a career in court reporting, don’t be afraid to ask your local association for a mentor, and don’t be afraid to ask a mentor what to expect. Don’t be afraid to make a budget. And do yourself a favor when you do make that budget, include play money. If you know that you go on $400 shopping sprees, you either need to have enough money to do that and make your payments or the self-control to reduce your shopping spree lavishness. Whatever you do: Don’t make less than your minimum payment. Math is math, and it will only cost you more in the long run.

That said, for the thriftiest and smartest borrowers, realize that making above and beyond the minimum payment has the result of reducing future interest payments from what they would be if you made the minimum. You can tear out of debt, pay much less interest, and be well on your way to building up your wealth.

The smartest financial choice is always to be debt free. If you have no debt, you have no interest payments. That means more money in your wallet. Look at school loans another way: The lender is investing in the business of You. You are the CEO of You. And now you’ve got the tools to understand that the CEO’s cut is bigger the faster the lender is paid. No shame in a loan, but only insomuch as it grows the business!

The Resurgence

It was looking pretty bad for steno for a while. Schools were closing. Courts were pushing stenographers out. Easy example, a few decades ago, stenographers started getting pushed out of New Jersey courts. The wheels of progress and the winds of change are slow, but I was fortunate enough to see this spot for a stenographic reporter pop up in Elizabeth, New Jersey. This is evidence to me that we can recover lost ground.

And there is certainly ground to recover. The Workers Compensation Board of New York moved to recording and having their stenographers transcribe. Our NYSCRA and others pushed to have the legislature mandate use of stenographic reporting, and the bill to do so was passed by the assembly and senate, but vetoed by Governor Cuomo. Needless to say, whenever New York decides to elect a new governor, it will be time for us to try again.

But seeing such a push by stenographers everywhere to educate the public and continue training each other to provide the best quality records possible, there’s no doubt in my mind that we can continue to take back any areas of the market that were lost.

I’ve gone over the math many times. There are more of us and so many ways to spread the message that stenography is still relevant and superior in this modern world. Old keyboard, new tricks. The best part of it is that as the push continues, people and companies are rising up to start new education programs. Just this year, by my own count, we’ve had something like a half a dozen programs open up and enrolling future stenographers.

The sweeter irony is that digital reporting very well may face the same shortage it tried to use against us. As word about stenography spreads, many transcribers are realizing that stenography can save them time and money in their transcription work, or that they can use stenography as a springboard into a career that is, on average, about double the pay. I’ve seen at least two social media posts in the last seven days about transcribers and digitals switching to steno. Let’s face it, anyone saying stenography is equal is running on intel that’s six years old. At that rate, they’ll catch on and get back on the wagon sometime in the next sixty. We can’t wait for them.

The truth is that from independent people like myself or Mirabai Knight, to major stenographic organizations like ASSCR or NCRA, to all the many consumers, judges, lawyers, stenographic court reporting has a lot of allies. It’s not going away. The New York State Court System said as much. We know the truth. All that’s left is to get out there, tell it, train our students to be the best they can be, and see the resurgence of stenography spread across the country.

Combination Banking

Hello, students. Today we’re going to touch on something I had written about not long ago on social media. Many people have trouble adding designations while writing. It’s work, and it can cause delays or missed words. One trick you can use is what I’ll call combination banking. Take your question or answer bank, and combine them with common responses. As an example, KWRAEUFRPBLGTS can be A. Yeah. Just be aware that in your software you must define it properly so that it gets its own line instead of being appended to the last line.

Luckily, I don’t have to write too much about this because Glen Warner already tackled dictionary building and phrasing here and was kind enough to supply me with a list of bank combos. Thanks, Glen!

Never be afraid to try out new things. They may transform your writing and accelerate your progress, or give you your own ideas about how to move forward.

Practice, Finger Drill, WKT, Dictation Marker Update

I don’t have a lot of volunteers helping me test the things I put out, and I had inadvertently put out the wrong link to my three programs. I have updated the links at the top of all of these pages to go to a .zip download. You unzip the folder, double click the .exe inside, and it will run the program without installation. Note that most computers will pop up with something saying this program may harm your computer. The code to these programs is public, you can read it for yourself and ask your computer people, it will not harm your computer.

Transcript Marker  РThis will take a .txt transcript and mark it for speed. Note that it has been updated so that it will not count Q., A., COURT:, or WITNESS: as a word.

Finger Drill Generator – This program can create finger drills for you. You can also save and load custom lists of words. Note that if you share your saved lists with me, I can include them with future versions. Also note that you should not ask the generator to make files larger than 500 WPM for 300 minutes. That’s 150,000 words. It’s more than enough. I am cautioning you because if you tell it to do 1 million words for 1 million minutes, it’ll happily sit there and generate a text file that large, take a long time to do that, and possibly eat all the space on your computer.

WKT Randomizer – Creates a random written knowledge test. Note that there are small errors in this program and additions that will be made when I finish the Stenonymous Suite.

Also know that I am continuing to try to provide quality dictation on my Youtube. The QA Mario dictation is a little slower than the marked speed because of a previous error where the program counted the Q and A as a word. All future dictations should not have this problem. If you’d like to contribute dictation, I am budgeting about $5 to $10 a month to pay for guest dictators right now, and we should talk. Think along the lines of $5 for a five-minute take.

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.
  • Table of Contents

    Here we have a table of contents of various concepts and the writing Stenonymous has done on them.

    Anticontracting…

    Explanation, what is AC?

    Antitrust…

    Why Not Discuss Rates, association liability.

    Associations…

    Value of Assoc, NYSCRA

    NYSCRA Certs, waiving provisional test.

    For Stenographers, NYSCRA and NCRA.

    Why You Matter, math behind members.

    How Organizations Work, including associations.

    Billing…

    Simplified, NY billing.

    Branding…

    Meet Stenographer, reporter got hijacked.

    Copies…

    Conundrum, copy value.

    Digital Reporting…

    To Digitals, urging them not to undercut.

    US Legal, ads for digital.

    Veritext, pushing digital.

    Veritext March 2019, pushed digital.

    Planet Depos, pushed digital.

    Verbit, recording and transcription.

    Educators…

    Transcript Marker, free.

    Todd Olivas’s Slasher, free.

    Creating A School, new NY process.

    Medical Terms Refresher, for tests.

    Legal Terms Refresher, for tests.

    WKT Randomizer, geared for NY.

    Finger Drill Generator, free.

    Guest Writers…

    Stay Strong, Joshua Edwards, 2018.

    Open Steno, Claire Williams, 2018.

    LiveSteno4U Review, J. Edwards, 2018.

    How To…

    Judiciary FOIL, NY

    CaseCAT, characters per line.

    Make F Keys Work, when they’re not.

    Make Writer Work, on new computer.

    Kill Superfetch, with alacrity.

    Run A Business, basics.

    Understand Holding Companies, basics.

    Write Persuasively, basics.

    CaseCAT E-Signature, one method.

    Think About AI, basics.

    Timed Dictation, create timed dictation.

    Independent Contracting…

    Independent v Employee, differences.

    Form SS8, IRS determines status.

    Direction & Control, more distinctions.

    Jobs…

    Real Job – finding work NYC

    Law…

    Remote Swearing, New York.

    Law For Stenographers, New York.

    FRCP, USA.

    Grand Jury Recording, New York.

    Sexual Harassment, USA and NY.

    Copyright, a brief overview as applied to us.

    Leadership…

    Rebel Alliance, how everyone contributes.

    Savior Chimera, the numbers make steno a market leader.

    Marketing…

    Magic, selling a feeling.

    Negotiation…

    Art of Deal, who you know

    Turnaround, considerations.

    My Sister, know when to make demands.

    Verbit, who’s helping who?

    HRD: First Look, historic rate data from California.

    Open Steno Project…

    Open Steno, steno for all.

    Aloft, project by Stanley Sakai.

    Typey Type, for self-learners.

    Outreach…

    To Our Agency Owners, use steno.

    To Our Litigators, use steno.

    Political Action…

    Writing Elected Officials, brief.

    Price Fixing…(See Antitrust)

    Rates…

    Audio Transcription, costly.

    Rate Sheet, what’s in them?

    Case For Higher Rates, better accounting.

    Inflation, higher rates.

    What Rate, math tables for rates.

    Cost of DB, cover your expenses.

    Rate Data FL CA, first look at rate data.

    Rate Data 2 NY, 1990s rates.

    Org & What, about charging habits.

    Pricing Yourself, thoughts on how the game is played.

    Shortage Solutions…

    Monster, doing nothing not viable.

    SS1, remote proceedings.

    SS2, coverage area.

    SS3, private labeling.

    SS4, direct market apps.

    SS5, public perceptions.

    SS6, pay the piper.

    SS7, recruitment.

    SS8, retirement.

    SS9, listings.

    SS10, contracts.

    SS11, logistics.

    SS12, Stenography

    Shortage Stats, March 2020

    Strategy…

    Diplomacy, keeping our cool.

    Public Records, seeking information.

    We, why we need each other.

    Freelance Loyalty, loyalty to yourself.

    Tips on Tricks, be aware of users.

    KISS, keeping things simple.

    Enforcing Rights, instead of complacency.

    Power of Contract, have one.

    Allies, have many.

    Constantinople, identifying decline.

    When Agencies Won’t Collect, ideas.

    Stop Gatekeeping, hurts us.

    Limits of Institution, how you fit.

    Good Reporter, urges resourcefulness.

    Commitment, win by any means.

    Competing, can’t win if you don’t try.

    History, how it informs our future.

    Power of No, can make you money.

    Getting Involved, you make a difference.

    Empty City, don’t buy competitors’ hype.

    Big Box, don’t ostracize allies.

    Them, emphasizes working together.

    Pitchfork, the need for diverse ideas.

    Cert Shaming, building each other up.

    Sell, why grabbing clients is good.

    Lie, the importance of identifying spin.

    Guard, about not believing everything AAERT says.

    Buying Hype, about promoting facts over a sales pitch.

    Why & When, to stonewall.

    Pricing In Fear, dealing with a bear market.

    Beware Busywork, not letting planning defeat doing.

    Students…

    Real Job, finding work NYC.

    Learn Steno, resources.

    Beginner’s Trap, true freelance.

    Strike That, do you take it out?

    Forgot Caption, NY E-filing.

    Off Record, disagreements on going.

    Interrupting, when and how.

    Take It Out, caution editing.

    How Are We Paid, it varies.

    Parentheticals, the basics.

    Cultural Literacy, its importance.

    Hardware 2017, computer basics.

    Audio & You, tool or crutch?

    Emails, clear communication.

    Passive Learning, mastery takes time.

    State v Federal, understanding captions.

    Briefs, a caution.

    Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect, thoughts.

    Tax Basics, forms I’ve filed.

    Specifically Pacific, verbatim?

    Speech & Years, verbatim?

    Interpreted Jobs, parentheticals.

    Mistakes, you will make them.

    Rejection, it happens.

    Third Person, messy interpreted testimony.

    Stipulations, important.

    Inadequacy, why didn’t school teach me?

    Employability, truths to consider.

    Perfection, sometimes good is good enough.

    Tips, general student help.

    Value Gradients, different upcharges.

    Audio Revisited, more cautions.

    Be Social Media Smart, cautions.

    Let Go, learning not to backspace.

    Errors, how many do you get?

    C Bank, technique to short writing.

    Log, spreadsheet for logging practice.

    Retro, achieving goals by working backwards.

    Mentoring, list of all mentoring programs.

    Disappointment, importance of boundaries.

    Pattern, using pattern writing.

    Impostor, forgiving Impostor Syndrome.

    Enemies, importance of not saying too much.

    Loans, a short discussion of loans.

    Workers Rights…

    Unionization, freelance.

    Workers Rights, cautions.

    Gov v Gig Economy, about IC regulation.

    – – – –

    Writers wanted…

    Write Stenonymously, on this blog.

    Seriously, write on this blog.

    Fundraising…

    Fundraising page, support this blog.

    Jobs Archive…

    March, 2019.

    May, 2019.

    June, 2019.

    July, 2019.

    August, 2019.

    September, 2019.

    October, 2019.

    November, 2019.

    December, 2019.

    January, 2020.

    February, 2020.

    March, 2020.

    April, 2020.

    May, 2020.

    History…

    NYSCRA Prep 2017, for court test.

    NY Constitutional Convention, 2017.

    Exam Prep, 2017.

    Reporter Sharing, 2017.

    Disclaimer, 2017.

    Exam Prep 2, 2017

    Sad Iron Stenographer, first appearance.

    Dave Wenhold & Lobbying, 2018.

    Typos, Stenonymous PSA.

    NCRA Amendments, 2018.

    Open Letter to NCRA, 2018.

    NCRA Retention Fairness, 2018.

    Learn to Caption by Anissa, 2018.

    Veritext Buys Diamond, 2018.

    License Plates History, 1993.

    Positive Reporting, 2018.

    New Year, New Rates, 2018.

    Wenhold Reaffirms Steno Support, 2018.

    Release of Diamond’s Old Renewal, 2010.

    Language Study, 2019.

    NYSCRA Social, Feb 2019.

    Learn About Steno, Plaza, 2019.

    Steno v Digital, 2019.

    Stenofest, 2019.

    Mistaken For The Reporter, 2019.

    Stenotrain, 2019.

    Wake Up, WUNCRA, 2019.

    MA Payonk: Steno First, 2019.

    Stenonymous Goes Ad Free, 2019.

    NYSCRA Bagels and Lox, 2019.

    NCRA: Stenographers, 2019.

    NY Courts Want You, 2019.

    Language Study Revisited, 2019.

    NYSCRA Opens Prep, 2019.

    Veritext Scholarships, 2019.

    NCRA Survey, May 2019.

    NCRA Amendments, 2019.

    Burngirl CaseCAT Tips, 2019.

    Stenonymous Suite Concept, 2019.

    RJR, June 2019.

    Leadership Book Review, 2019.

    Stenovate, 2019.

    Steno Speed, 2019.

    Global Alliance, 2019.

    Library of Congress, 2019.

    Resurgence, 2019.

    NCRA Virtual Town Hall 9/21/19, 2019.

    Outfluence, 2019.

    Raise Your Rates, 2019.

    MAPEC 2019, 2019.

    Stenonymous Suite EV, 2019.

    Impossible Institute, 2019.

    Economics of Caring, 2019.

    NYSCRA Survey January 2020, 2020.

    A Night In Brooklyn, January PYRP, 2020.

    Stenonymous on Facebook, 2020.

    Eastern District Hiring, 2020.

    Trust Issues & Veritext, 2020.

    Stenopalooza, 2020.

    NYSCRA Student Webinar, 2020.

    Veritext Scholarships

    So we’ve got a bit of good news here. Veritext announced on May 20, 2019 that it was expanding its scholarship program. Now, obviously, this information is directly from the company. We can’t say for sure what’s happening in Minnesota, Washington, or elsewhere, but let’s be cautiously optimistic and assume this news is one hundred percent true for a moment.

    It’s a good start. We’ve got to support these companies taking on the funding of education. There’s been a strong wave of stenographer activism since the big push for digital began, and this may be a tacit admission that steno is here to stay. Nothing but praise for Veritext today. Now, more than ever, is a great time for all companies to get out there and tell the field about their efforts in steno education. We are starving for good news! But, of course, we would be abdicating our moral responsibilities if we didn’t offer some suggestions.

      Schools, reach out to the company and see if you can join their program. It never hurts to make a contact.
      Veritext, according to the Ducker Report, the big four states for reporting are California, New York, Illinois, and Texas. Some of the largest shortage cries come from at least three of those states. It would be most helpful to our field if you would expand scholarships to those locations when possible.
      Also Veritext, if you continue to support rolling out the digital stuff alongside the stenography scholarships, it’s going to be assumed that the scholarships are hedging your bets and the digital is your real investment. This probably isn’t the public perception that you want your stenographers walking into your depositions with. On the flip side, if stenography becomes the primary focus, stenographers will be more loyal and less likely to poach clients. As an accountant once explained, it’s just how the world works.

    Some will be skeptical because Veritext was formerly making a major push for digital by asking attorneys to amend their notices to allow it. Anecdotally, as recently as May 20, commentators online were stating that Veritext was attempting to send a videographer only to a dep. We shouldn’t forget that. We need to continue to make everybody aware that some companies are taking an active role in supplanting stenographic reporting. But if this is a sign that there can be a pivot and a turning point in the right direction, we look forward to heaping on more praise, letting the past be the past, and seeing stenographers remain the guardians of the record well into the future.

    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.