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GOING GLOBAL: Be in Berlin

By John Wissenbach

“A velotypist, a stenotypist, and a palantypist walked into a bar…”

It may sound like the beginning of a bad joke, but in July 2017, reporters from all over the world will begin streaming into the city of Berlin to attend Intersteno’s 51st Congress. Where better to rub shoulders with a 90-year-old retiree, an eight-year-old able to keyboard 475 strokes a minute, a reporter who can write 15 different languages, or any of the many attendees taking the opportunity to have a European vacation and enjoy the camaraderie of fellow professionals.

I attended Intersteno for the first time in Paris in 2011. In the process of overhauling my theory, I had been spending a considerable time practicing to science podcasts, so Intersteno’s straight literary contest material appealed to me. Having passed my Certificate of Merit as a teenager, dipping my toe into the contest waters seemed the only venue left for measuring how successful someone who once wrote “objection” in three strokes could be in radically changing their writing style.

The Intersteno speed competition starts off at a slow pace, has a faster middle section, and ends with the contestants begging for mercy. Everyone is a winner, as contestants are ranked according to what minute they survive to in the 15-minute dictation, allowing them to compete against their own record at the following Congress. The realtime dictation runs for eight minutes.

If contests aren’t your thing, there are still plenty of reasons to be in Berlin next year. First-timers may be astounded at the number of young people participating in Intersteno. But equally impressive are the number of retired reporters. There will be entertainment for the opening and closing ceremonies and excursions and dinners throughout the week, thanks to the efforts of many volunteers, including NCRA’s own unsung Intersteno superheroes — Virgene Biggers, RPR, of Metairie, La.;  Russell Page of Washington, D.C., and Teri Gaudet of Sparta, N.J., and their spouses.

Those not wanting to miss the experience of a lifetime should go to and look for the periodic E-News publications that are posted.

Be in Berlin!

John Wissenbach, RDR, CRR, CRC, is a freelance reporter based in San Francisco, Calif. He can be reached at