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  – This 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

    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 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, 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’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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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.

    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.