Friday November 21st 2014

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The Roving Real-time Reporter

In this guest blog, Lisa discusses the real time court reporting profession.

Do you have dreams of working in far away destinations, touring and shopping in exotic places all over the world, and not having to pay for beautiful hotels and meals?  You’ve joined the right profession.   It is possible.  BUT first, a reality check.   Don’t let anyone tell you it’s okay not to do real-time OR get comfortable OR save up for ten years for equipment OR see if you like reporting … and all the rest of the lines.  You need to start doing real-time right now.

Real-time Reporting is not sitting in front of your laptop with the words and mistranslates coming up for you to see; real-time is for the rest of the world to see and, more importantly, judges, lawyers, US attorneys, arbitrators and anyone else in our circle.

Do you have the guts?  It’s taken me 13 months of working in Singapore to tell me that – yes – I have the confidence I was looking for.    I no longer sit on the plane and worry that I’ve forgotten a cord, a charger, worrying that I am going to blow up my laptop with the wrong power conversion.  I’m not even  worrying about the real-time job I’m going to be faced the next day with very little prep.  Personally, I think the first 26 years of self doubt were necessary to bring me to this point.  Why I am telling you this is because you might feel that you are never good enough to do real-time.  You need to be ready, but then you need to know when to jump in. As the Nike ads say:  “Just Do It.”

More fiction:  You can do real-time if you have 96% translate rate.  Poo-pah … there’s no way anyone will be comfortable with that.  Most real-time reporters that I worked with in Asia, from the US, Australia, UK, had always 99% Plus translation rates.  All you will be doing is making people angry and yourself humiliated.  I’m telling it like it is.

Strive for perfection now.  Spend the time, travelling to and from work, checking your job dictionaries for entries to add into your main dictionary.  If you are doing a job involving a mine or a certain stock, go online, research, do your homework.   Encourage the company you are working for to get as much prep material that they are able to get their hands on.  Prep for any real-time jobs  is of the utmost importance.  It’s like getting a sneak preview.  I can’t stress this enough.  Spend as much time as possible working on a job dictionary.

Yesterday, I spent dinner with two highly esteemed captionists.  The dinner conversation focused on what we thought the highlights of our careers were.  Mine was a two-year murder trial I did with a jury, that involved subject matter from every corner of the universe.  The lawyers were always a source of amazement to me; their angles, their motions, their drama.  Truly an epic murder trial in anybody’s books.

My colleague had captioned for a week straight during 9/11 and said that this was the highlight of her career.

Another colleague captioned on the JUMBOTRON at the Skydome in Toronto, for 50,000 people during an Alcoholics Anonymous International Conference.  Funny enough, the man who hired her for her services didn’t understand what captioning entailed and felt it was an unnecessary expense and was rather crusty.  At the end of this event, the man came up to the Captioner and gave her an envelope.  In it, contained a tip, for the wonderful job she had done!  When she spoke of this, her eyes lit up with pride.

Your skills will be an amazement to everyone who will avail themselves of your services, especially if they speak to you and get a handle on the process of turning their spoken words, using that “funny little machine” into readable verbatim text.

People say, “Lisa, how to you manage to have such a positive attitude towards reporting after 30 years?”  My simple answer is:  I am lucky.  Why?  Because out of all the students in the court reporting class, only Teresa Forbes and myself were able to get up enough speed to be accepted into the court house on the apprentice program and become full-fledged court reporters.

In 1979 I started at the courthouse at $100 per day.  I was thrilled!  I haven’t forgotten those days.  I remember how much it took to get where I am today.

I am grateful to those who spent time with me to teach me my craft.  Thank you.    After 30 years of reporting and travelling to such far off places as Jakarta, Indonesia, Bangkok, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong, Germany, Bermuda, I am still slightly humble and always amazed at other reporters’ skills.  Humbleness is a good quality.  It keeps you striving and challenging yourself for near perfection.

You have chosen the most amazing career.  If you are graduating, you are one of the chosen few, the lucky ones.  Do not forget that.  You are able to do something that requires an extreme amount of talent, concentration, achievement and plain hard work.    Never give up trying harder, practicing, getting NCRA certifications.  These things are important and open up a huge amount of doors.   I am being offered jobs weekly in other countries because of my certifications and my experience.  Don’t ever think your speed and accuracy is “good enough.”

Good luck in your future endeavours.  You are about to embark on the ride of your life!

Lisa

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