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Archive for March, 2019

Is There a Shortage of Qualified Stenographers

Posted on: March 25th, 2019 by Sfl Media No Comments

Court Reporting StenographThere seems to be a little issue happening in our courts. Court reporters are seeing a stenographer shortage coming in the very near future. So that does beg the question, is there a shortage of qualified Stenographers? We here at are here to find out.

‘People think this is an archaic profession. … it’s not’

What is Stenography aka Shorthand?

Shorthand is an abbreviated symbolic writing method that increases speed and brevity of writing as compared to longhand. Longhand is a more common method of writing a language. The process of writing in shorthand is called stenography.

Traditional shorthand systems were written on paper with a stenographic pencil or pen. Machine shorthand is also a common term for writing produced by a stenotype, a specialized keyboard that are often used for courtroom transcripts.

Learning stenography is like learning another language. The stenographic court reporting machine has 24 keys and works phonetically.

Why is There a Shortage of Stenographers?

To start awareness of the profession has steadily declined. A drop in enrollment has actually led to stenography schools closing. The industry’s focus is pushing young professionals into the job and supporting them through tough schooling.

It does not help that television advertisements have become less common and schools that teach stenography have shuttered in recent years.

The average age of a court reporter right now is 56 years old. The feeling is that many of these people are going to retire and by virtue of that fact, there will be a serious shortage of court reporters in the very near future.

Stenographers provide transcripts for not only court proceedings, but also live captioning during cable broadcasts and college lectures, among other services.

Did They See This Coming?

The shortage of stenographers has been long anticipated. In 2013, the National Court Reporters Association commissioned an independent research group to study the industry and make predictions on its future demands.

In the study, known in the industry as the Ducker Report, researchers determined that by 2018 a lack of student enrollment rates “combined with significant retirement rates,” would create a shortage of about 5,500 court reporters nationwide as “increased legal activity and new opportunities … drive demand.”

The drop in enrollment has led to schools closing, including two in the Central Florida area. Now, the only stenographic reporting programs in the state are in South Florida, though students can take classes online.

Another problem is that student failure rates in these programs are high, and so is the cost of equipment and schooling.

Stenography is a skill, much like learning piano. In some programs, only 4 percent of students who enter graduate. It can take between two and eight years to finish, and tuition can cost more than $10,000 per year.

What is the Future?

It is a lucrative career, and basically, a job is guaranteed upon completion of training. Recently graduated stenographers typically start with salaries in the low $40,000s, but can eventually make upward of $150,000. Since most stenographers are independent contractors, their income is based on how much work the reporter actually logs in.

Like many trade occupations, automation has made its way into the industry. In court reporting, digital reporters have replaced stenographers for many routine legal proceedings. They set up microphones in a courtroom, then transcribe the recordings later.

But their training is minimal. Minimal like only four weeks.

“The sad thing is, people think this is an archaic profession, a dying profession, and it’s not,” experts say. “Everybody says, ‘Oh, aren’t you going to be replaced by technology? Can’t they just record?’ You can’t compare what a court reporter does to a recording.”

While digital reporters help by freeing up stenographers for more complex legal work, transcriptions can take three to five times longer for a digital reporter and often contain more errors.

If courts continue to see a shortage in stenographers, forcing digital reporters to cover more high-profile proceedings, the quality of the record will deteriorate without a doubt.

For example, occasional transcripts from digital reporters have come back indicating a word or sentence was inaudible, which doesn’t happen with stenographers. Since they are writing the record as it unfolds, they can ask someone to repeat a word, or move closer to their microphone.

The National Court Reporters Association has a program called “A to Z,” which offers students free, six-week trial classes to test their interest in the profession. Students who decide to pursue the job can get tuition assistance and mentorship through Project Steno, which focuses on student outreach and enrollment.

A program like this can only help what will become a dire situation unless it is addressed. If you ever need a stenographer, you can book one right now on our website

Mount Hope Student Is Fastest Court Reporter

Posted on: March 18th, 2019 by Sfl Media No Comments

Maia Morgan, the winner of Plaza College’s 2019 National Court Reporting Association Student Speed Competition.

Mount Hope resident Maia Morgan from the Bronx is one of twelve winners in Plaza College’s 2019 National Court Reporting Association Student Speed Competition.

With over 100 students racing against the clock and racing against each other to see who was the fastest and most accurate court reporter in honor of National Court Reporting and Capturing Week, Morgan was the best.

Morgan and her peers were to transcribe using a stenotype. It is a specialized shorthand machine which interfaces with a customized laptop, and take dictation at various speeds as they train to become professional court reporters. Morgan has proven that she is good enough to be hired by CourtScribes, which houses the best in the business.

A stenotype keyboard has fewer keys than a conventional alphanumeric keyboard. It is usually used for court reporting purposes. Multiple keys are pressed simultaneously to spell out whole syllables, words, and phrases with a single hand motion. Since the keyboard does not contain all the letters of the English alphabet, letter combinations are substituted for the missing characters.


“Using the stenotype machine is almost like learning another language,” Morgan expressed.


Morgan types at an impressive 120 words per minute with 96% accuracy. To graduate, she will have to increase her speed to 225 words per minute. Morgan aspires to one day work as a stenographer in either the supreme or civil court. She finds being a court reporter an exciting career option and encourages everyone to give it a try.

“Maintaining the required speed and trying not to think too hard while typing are challenges, but they can be overcome through practice and patience,” Morgan said.

She said making one’s fingers nimble is key to increasing typing speed. Morgan suggested learning to play an instrument such as a piano or guitar to establish muscle memory.

According to Karen Santucci, Plaza College Court Reporting chairwoman and NYS Court Reporters Association vice president, stenographers are very vital. They keep records for legal hearings and trials; grand juries; depositions; government meetings and hearings at local, state and federal levels; as well as TV closed captioning and services for the hearing impaired.

“Our role is crucial because we record and preserve the accurate accounts of trials, depositions, grand juries and other crucial aspects of the legal system which are essential to ensuring the fair administration of justice,” Santucci explained.

Court reporters’ records ensure fair trials and serve as the basis for appeals and other cornerstones of the entire American legal process. These professionals (court reporters), 90% of whom are women, are responsible for preserving the historical record of legal proceedings and serve as crucial documentarians ensuring reliability.

Court reporters’ salaries can top $100,000 a year. If you have trained to be a court reporter or you are in need of one, go to the website to see how you can become a part of the team, or contact to hire a reporter.

Plaza College is NYC’s sole court stenographer program, with 200 students currently enrolled. Plaza College has a 70% graduation rate across all of their offered programs and more specifically a 73% retention rate within the court reporting program. A true sign of a successful program putting out successful reporters.

Horry-Georgetown Tech Launches Court Reporting Program

Posted on: March 11th, 2019 by Sfl Media No Comments


The campus of Horry-Georgetown Technical College

Horry-Georgetown Technical College of Conway, South Carolina launched a digital court reporting program this week, which the school says is the first of its kind in South Carolina. They are launching the program with the hopes of prepping students for a career that is seeing a national shortage.


“If a student has an interest in technology, this is a great way to utilize that interest and have an opportunity for a pretty nice salary,” said Daniel Hoppe, director of the Distance Learning Institute at HGTC. “The starting salary is around $41,000.”

“The State of South Carolina is looking toward digital court reporting to meet that demand,” Hoppe said. “We’ve partnered with them to identify that need and provide education for them.”


Hoppe says the program will help fill roughly 5,500 unfilled court reporting jobs nationwide, 164 of which are in South Carolina alone.

Fifteen students in online classes learn how to use specialized audio technology to keep court records. HGTC says the program also teaches students tasks they need to do outside the courtroom like depositions.


Sen. Stephen Goldfinch, R-Murrells Inlet, helped the college at the state level. He says more court reporters will make Horry County’s legal system more efficient.

“In the last six months, I know of at least three terms of court that have been canceled,” Sen. Goldfinch said. “It is affecting every single county in the state.”

“Our program, working with our partner BlueLedge, is an accredited program, so students who complete our program are able to go right to work at the State of South Carolina.”


The digital court reporting course only takes 15-18 weeks to complete. HGTC will also launch stenography and voice writing programs next month to go right in sync with its court reporting curriculum.

In the future, Courtscribes may hire one of the graduates of the HGTC program. In the meantime, you can hire one of the amazing court reporters right here at Use our contact form to inquire now.

Court Reporters Inaccurately Transcribing ‘African-American Vernacular English’

Posted on: March 4th, 2019 by Sfl Media No Comments

Audio and digital recording in court can make all the difference.

So picture this scenario:

You are African American. A court reporter taking notes during your criminal case makes an error in the transcript that ends up becoming a point of contention in an appeal. An appeal that you lose. You probably would not have lost the case if your words had been reported accurately. Now you’re facing penalties, or even worse, prison time because of that court reporter’s mistake.

If you’re a person who uses a dialect like African-American Vernacular English, also known as AAVE, that situation is much more likely to happen to you, according to research in Philadelphia. This is why having a digital court reporter via Courtscribes is so very important. It can be the difference between jail and freedom.

This study found serious errors in court transcripts that materially changed what people said or rendered their speech as incomprehensible gibberish. People perceived as speaking “incorrectly” already deal with a substantial social stigma, and apparently, that includes courtroom settings.


How Can We Solve This Problem?

When a court reporter is not familiar with a given dialect, their lack of understanding can influence the way they record one’s speech (testimony). Unless someone reviews and contests the transcript in a timely manner, it may go on the record as incorrect. This will become a much more difficult problem to correct months or years in the future.

This problem can even reinforce biases that put certain people at a disadvantage in the courtroom. For black defendants, testifying in ‘AAVE’ may have a serious impact on how those defendants are perceived by juries, as well as how their words are recorded for posterity.

Many states are starting to transition away from the classic court recorder to audio or video recordings, which capture a complete digital record of everything that was said. This can be used instead of or in addition to transcripts for accuracy. Much like the services that Courtscribes offers. One thing courts shouldn’t be relying on though is an automated transcription. Anyone who has spoken text into their cellphone in an attempt at transcribing a message would agree.

The technologies used for speech recognition just aren’t there yet. This is true in the case of many accents and dialects, where word order and inflection can carry very different meanings.


Solutions are Coming

The solution to this problem is multifaceted. Court reporters across the country may need more training to improve their accuracy with both transcribing and paraphrasing when people speak with accents or dialects. That training should be regionally-appropriate as well because different aspects and dialects have variable representations depending on locale.

Also using digital recordings as a backup may be a good idea. Transcripts can ensure that information is available in multiple formats, with the original recordings retained to cross-reference. The stakes are simply too high for these kinds of mistakes.

Detailed digital recordkeeping benefits both courts and defendants. Not only does it serve that purpose, but it will also aid future dialect researchers who may be interested in looking at a large body of material stored from year to year to learn more about how dialects and accents evolve.