By Connie Psaros, RPR, CMRS, BS
I happened to see The Wizard of Oz on TV the other night, the story of the Scarecrow, Lion, and Tin Man on a journey in search of brains, courage, and heart; and for some reason I saw a connection to court reporting.
BRAINS: Let’s face it. You have to be intelligent to do what we do. Just mastering the steno machine and obtaining certification takes years of arduous training and testing where nothing but 95% accuracy will do. Judging from the very low graduation rates, not everyone has what it takes to see their schooling through to the end.
Machine mastery, together with a solid grasp of the English language, is still not enough. Of utmost importance these days is technological proficiency. Brain power is definitely needed to know your hardware, software, how to hook up iPads to provide realtime, and troubleshoot a variety of technical problems should they arise. And not to be overlooked are the different, sometimes tricky, scenarios that can unexpectedly unfold on any given assignment where we must think on our feet and make decisions using our experience and best judgment. Court reporting is not for dummies.
COURAGE: No matter your level of experience, courage is a mandatory trait. We are thrown alone into the unknown on a daily basis and must face whatever lies in store. Maybe it’s your first CART job in front of a convention audience, your first daily copy/realtime assignment, or maybe your client needs you in Mongolia, of all places, which is uncharted territory for sure on so many levels. A lot rides on our shoulders, and few understand the pressure we face. I know how crippling fear can be, so when I see great professionals jump in with both feet anyway and get the job done despite any feelings of apprehension, it deepens my admiration and respect for them.
HEART: Court reporters need “heart” to produce the best product possible. They need to care about the record and understand the weight that the parties involved will place upon it. Mistakes made by us could have serious ramifications. At the end of the day if all you care about is a paycheck, this is not the profession for you. The following is a statement written by one of our exemplary reporters, Anne H. Bohan, RDR, CRR, when asked to provide a glimpse into how she views her profession. The weight of her words should resonate with every court reporter.
“Day by day I faithfully record and transcribe the experiences of other people’s lives. I am writing their stories as they are telling them, capturing their words for them. I deal in real life emotions on a daily basis – joy, anger, grief and fear, the highs and lows of the human condition – and I must perform the job in a calm, stoic manner. I feel like I have lived 1,000 lives sitting in front of my shorthand machine.
“Much of the work I do is critical; there’s a risk people will suffer if I don’t get it right. I safeguard a litigant’s most precious possessions: life, liberty or family. I have great incentive to record every single word correctly. But I invest effort, enthusiasm and joy into what I do regardless. I embrace the responsibility.”
If there is one thing to take away from my many blog posts, this is it. Anne’s words perfectly capture who we are as court reporters, what we do and why we do it. It is her “heart,” along with an ample supply of brains and courage, that has propelled her career forward and made her such a fine ambassador for the court reporting profession. Thank you, Anne.