All court reporters are the same.
We may all seem the same at first glance, sitting at our machines with our fingers flying, but we all know that among our members there is a wide range of abilities and experience. So how does one know that a reporter has the core competencies required to produce a timely verbatim transcript, or how does one know if the court reporter can provide realtime? The standard determinant in our business has always been the credentials earned through NCRA: RPR, RMR, RDR, CRR, and CRC. It may not be the only factor — and there are some members who consistently perform at a high level without the top credentials — but it is the one that carries significant weight among its members.
Court reporting is easy. All you have to do is push a button to get a transcript.
Were it so! True, there are gifted reporters out there who can consistently produce very clean transcripts by the end of the day, but they are in the minority. Among NCRA’s membership of 11,495, only 1,864 hold the RMR; 486 hold the RDR; and 2,478 hold the CRR (as of February 2018). Court reporting is stressful and difficult, but they make it LOOK easy.
Longer words are harder to write than short words.
With the emphasis on writing “short,” this does not hold true anymore. Multisyllabic words used to be the nemesis of reporters, but savvy reporters have changed their writing styles to incorporate shortcuts for long words, word groupings, common phrases, and numbers. In addition, they have learned to come up with creative briefs on the fly. Carol Kusinitz, a reporter extraordinaire who routinely does this, came up with the brief CRUPL* for “cryptococcal meningitis.” This practice not only cuts down dramatically on misstrokes but saves wear and tear on your hands and fingers which is crucial when considering a career that can last decades.
I can earn $100K at the completion of just a two-year court reporting program!
Earnings for beginning reporters do not even approach $100K. This is certainly attainable but only after years of experience in the field. The higher the credentials one has usually correlates with the more lucrative assignments, so it certainly is an incentive to improve your skills. Secondly, many students do not graduate in two years. To think that you will definitely finish in two years and then start immediately earning $100K is a fairy tale.
Court reporting is a boring job.
Yes, there are times when you are bored to tears, but court reporting can also be very exciting. You will be privy to private and confidential matters, contentious and controversial matters, sometimes matters covered by the local and national media, and you will be exposed to topics from every field imaginable. It is a “free” education, there for the taking. You will meet people from all walks of life and gain perspective on human nature. Reporting also offers you the opportunity to travel nationally and around the world! Reporters from this office have reported in Italy, Cyprus, Sweden, and Mongolia, to name a few.
Court reporters can make their own hours.
If only this were true. Freelancers may have more flexibility, but all reporters are at the mercy of their backlogs and their clients’ wishes. When a transcript is needed on an expedited basis, it needs to get delivered on time. Everyone has a million stories. I remember attorneys ordered an expedited transcript from me on Christmas Eve.
I have audio, so I can just sit back and enjoy the ride.
I don’t know of one professional reporter who subscribes to this. There is always the possibility that your audio could fail, often at the absolute worst time. If you didn’t hear it to begin with, it’s possible it won’t be picked up by the audio. You are there to safeguard the record and must do everything in your power to prepare the best transcript you can. Interrupt for clarification if necessary, and always work on improving your skill and speed so you don’t need your audio backup as a crutch.
A tape recorder can do your job. You probably hear this one a lot. I don’t even want to go there. We all know the truth.