Search Results for: working in a rv

Mixing business with pleasure: Working in an RV

NCRA member Lisa Johnston, RMR, CRR, CRC, casts off ties in Melbourne, Fla., every year to travel across the United States with her husband. Rather than forgo her usual work
as a broadcast and CART captioner, she set herself up to caption from wherever she and her husband parked the RV. Mixing business with pleasure was just right for the two of them.

Johnston spoke to JCR Contributing Editor Deanna Baker, FAPR, RMR, about the journey and all the stops in between.

BAKER | How long was the planning process to make sure you had all the work equipment you needed, as well as possible back-ups?

JOHNSTON | I packed all my equipment as if I were going to an event to work onsite. I have two laptops, two writers, two realtime cables, headphones, etc. Over the years, I have developed a checklist to make sure I have everything before I leave. I also bring the huge notebook of prep I have accumulated over the years. I travel a lot with work, and so, by now, I know what I need.

BAKER | Did you forget anything or wish you had brought something?

JOHNSTON | No, I haven’t forgotten anything yet — hopefully, I won’t ever forget something! I’m not too proud to admit that I now and will always use a checklist to make sure I have everything I need.

BAKER | Was all of your work strictly through the internet, sending data as well as audio?

JOHNSTON | I do remote CART captioning while traveling in our RV using the internet. I have two wireless routers that act as mobile WiFi hotspots, one with Verizon and one with AT&T; and both work really well. In certain parts of the country, one wireless provider may give me a stronger signal than the other, so I use what I feel gives me the most internet strength at that location.

I get my audio by dialing in using my cell phone. I have also used Skype for audio in the past as well. That can be iffy at times, so I always do some testing before an event starts.

BAKER | Any glitches along the way?

JOHNSTON | When I first started this journey of traveling on the road and CART captioning, before there were cell towers everywhere, I had to take my wireless hotspot and check the strength where the RV was “docked,” and if I had bad reception, I would get in my car and drive and see where the strongest service was. Many times, I’ve had to write on my machine, with the laptop on the seat next to me in the back seat of my car (we have a car we bring on our trips, which we tow behind our RV). I’ve been in Nowhere, U.S.A., in some unique locations sitting in my car taking down an assignment! Fun times!

Cell towers are the norm nowadays, so I don’t have to necessarily always be in a “big city” like I used to be to find a strong internet signal strength. I now can get good internet service most anywhere, thank goodness!

BAKER | Are your clients aware of your traveling, or has it been that they haven’t noticed a difference at all?

JOHNSTON | I strive to provide my clients with seamless captioning services and have been able to do so successfully for many years. As long as they are receiving the product they need, they are happy. I provide only CART captioning while on the road; no broadcast captioning which may use a landline and encoders.

I hope my reputation speaks for itself. If I am requested to support someone who needs communication access, I will go out of my way to accommodate. I have been in this profession for 34 years now, I love what I do every single day, and I hope that shows. If I can leave a person or situation and they have a smile on their face, then I’m happy and I’ve done my job successfully!

BAKER | I’m “assuming” your husband was not driving at the time you were working?

JOHNSTON | No way do I work while my husband is driving down the road. First off, it’s not very comfortable doing it that way for me, as not all roads in the U.S. are nice terrain and can get very bouncy and unstable. So, if we’re driving to a destination and I need to stop to take a job, we will pull into a rest area or at a truck stop/gas station and that works well for me. My husband is my fabulous support staff!

BAKER | Was there a particular goal for your travels?

JOHNSTON | We have no goals in our yearly travels. One year we head northeast to Maine, with many stops along the way, and the next year we head somewhere west (last year was Washington state; most years to California) with many stops along the way. We’ve been from one end of Canada to the other. We’ve been to all 50 states, and 49 traveling in our RV. Maine is one of our favorite states, so every other year we enjoy traveling up Maine’s coast and enjoying some lobster!

BAKER | Anything unexpected pop up that you didn’t plan on?

JOHNSTON | Nothing unexpected comes to mind right now. Pre-planning pays off!

BAKER | How many other colleagues were you able to visit on your travels?

JOHNSTON | In our travels across the beautiful United States, I try to reach out to some dear friends and colleagues when I know I will be nearby. In Flagstaff, Ariz., I had dinner with you and Lori Yeager Stavropoulos, RPR, CRR, CRC, and their spouses; in Mobile, Ala., spending time with Alan Peacock, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, and Elliot Carter was such a treat and highlight; in Seattle, I just missed seeing Darlene Pickard, RDR, CRR, CRC, as she was out of state the week I was there. And I keep promising Toni Christy, RPR, CRR, CRC, that we will make a trip to the San Diego area soon! Such good friends that I love seeing!

BAKER | Would you recommend this as a way to travel and work at the same time?

JOHNSTON | For me, this is the best of both worlds. I work a lot with clients who have meetings throughout the week. That is all I want to cover while I’m traveling, so while traveling on the road, I choose to work 2-3 days a week, which is perfect, because I can cover their meetings and yet still “play” and explore the areas my husband and I visit.

I choose to keep my workload light and not be constantly working, because I enjoy my time off sightseeing where we are traveling. We usually stay in a location a few days, so in that timeframe, we like to play tourists and see what the area has to show us, so I don’t want to always be inside working. But I love the flexibility to do what I want and work when I want!

BAKER | What have you seen on your travels that really stuck out for you?

JOHNSTON | We’d both always wanted to see Mount Rushmore, and the first time was such a treat. We love going to the Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. Living an hour from Walt Disney World, I’d always wanted to see Disneyland in California, and that was fun to go to. Growing up in Florida with no seasons really, it’s been a treat for us to see the beauty of the United States. Fall is our favorite time to travel; seeing the leaves change their colors is breathtaking!

BAKER | Anything else you’d like to pass along to the readers?

JOHNSTON | My husband and I have been RV travelers for 15 years now and love every single minute of our adventures. Come join me! The United States is a great place to call your office!

NCRA, TCRA, and TEXDRA working to assist members affected by Hurricane Harvey

A green steno machine and "TX" in white letters are imposed over the state of Texas in black

Image from the Reporters Helping Reporters GoFundMe campaign

It’s been more than a week since Hurricane Harvey took its toll on Houston, Texas, and surrounding communities. Although the rains may be over, the devastation and cleanup is expected to remain a long-term issue. NCRA, the Texas Court Reporters Association (TCRA), and the Texas Deposition Reporters Association (TEXDRA) want those affected to know that the organizations are already working to help.

In an effort to help ensure that member services are not interrupted during this difficult time, NCRA will offer flexible financing for dues and extensions on CEU requirements needed by those immediately affected by Harvey.

In coming weeks, NCRA staff will also begin following up on members in areas affected by the storm to offer additional support and resources. Members needing assistance can also reach out directly to NCRA by emailing or calling 800-272-6272.

NCRA is also encouraging individuals or firms to support relief efforts by donating funds to Reporters Helping Reporters, a GoFundMe campaign established by TCRA that will provide aid to members affected financially. To date, the site has surpassed its $10,000 financial aid goal.

NCRA also encourages individuals who want to donate used equipment or individuals affected by the hurricane who need equipment to visit the TEXDRA website for donation and request checklists and forms. Gift cards can also be donated via the TEXDRA website for distribution to members in need. Other links on the website include TCRA’s GoFundMe page, information about volunteer opportunities through the Red Cross, and tips on what to do next in the event of a disaster written by NCRA member Kelly Hanna, RMR, CRR, CMRS, a reporter and agency owner in Houston who has been flooded twice before. There is also information on how to donate to the Red Cross and the United Way Relief Fund.

“NCRA is not just your professional association. NCRA is your professional family. We want everyone impacted by Hurricane Harvey to know that we are here to help you in any way we can,” said NCRA President Christine J. Willette, RDR, CRR, CRC, a court reporter and firm owner from Wausau, Wis. “Your NCRA and NCRF Board members and their staffs are holding good thoughts for you and your families and friends as you work through these trying times.

Working in the new world of official court reporting

Kristie Dickinson, RPR, CRR

By Kristie Dickinson

In Michigan, I had been the owner of a freelance court reporting firm.  I took depositions and produced my own work but also produced the work of the women who worked for me.  I always worked 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week.  It sounds like a lot, but the good thing about doing freelance work is that you can take breaks and vacations whenever you want.  My dog-walk breaks were about 10 a.m., 2 p.m., and 6 p.m.  Neighbors sometimes asked if I worked because I was out walking in the middle of the day.  Little did they know.

When I moved to California, I knew work in the new world of official court reporting was going to be different because, for the first time since I was 22, I was going to be working for someone else.  I would be working inside the courts themselves versus taking out-of-court testimony.  It would be early to work and late getting home.  It would be no more dog walks whenever I wanted to stretch my legs.  It would be not having any say in the work that I reported.

Never having worked for someone else, I’m still trying to figure things out now, a year and three months later; so you can imagine how overwhelmed I felt the first few days and months.

The first day and a half consisted of a kind of class where they handed out materials and instructed us.  We learned what was expected of us, benefits we would receive, procedures, more benefits, dress codes, policies, and, well, more benefits.  I checked out after the first round of benefits so, to this day, I’m not really sure what else is floating around out there.  I decided to take it on an as-needed basis.

Then came the shadowing.  I would sit in with other reporters, getting exposed to the proceedings in different kinds of courtrooms.

One of the differences between depositions and courtrooms is that I feel very in control in a deposition.  There are usually three to six other people present in the room, and I feel like I run the show as far as telling people to slow down or to speak one at a time.

In a courtroom, the reporter is still expected to control things to make sure they make an accurate record; but, instead of three or four other people in the room, there can be anywhere from seven to twenty people looking at you like you can’t do your job when you tell someone to slow down.  There’s performance pressure.

Another difference is courtrooms can be very large, and the acoustics can be quite inadequate.  I suddenly wished I’d responded to that infomercial for the Miracle Ear.  There were mumblers, interrupters, heavy accents, interpreters speaking nearby that made me feel like I was hearing voices in my head, and then there were the often not-so-quiet conversations coming from the audience.  If the bailiff didn’t shush them, the reporter I was shadowing would tell people in the audience to be quiet.  For someone who prefers to remain invisible in a courtroom, raising my voice to tell people 30 feet away to zip it is daunting.

Vocabulary was another obstacle in the new world.  They pronounce things differently here.  For instance, they pronounce “voir dire” phonetically, whereas Michiganders pronounce it with a French flare.  I still chuckle when I hear people pronounce it here.

There were also new case names to learn, but the hardest things to learn were city names.  Because court reporters write things phonetically and by the syllable, switching from Midwestern names like Jonesville, Detroit, and Lansing to names like Palos Verdes, Aliso Viejo, and Santa Monica kept my fingers working overtime.  When “Rancho Cucamonga” came up, I wanted to say, “Aw, come on!  Now you’re just making stuff up!”  There’s nothing ending with “ville” here.

My job at the courthouse was to be a floating court reporter.  We didn’t have those in Lansing, Mich., so I was a little unsure what to expect.  Basically, unless assigned to a trial, I was working in a different courtroom with different staff every day.  I would cover for assigned reporters on vacation, or I would work in a courtroom with no assigned reporter.  Learning the ins and outs of each courtroom was a little daunting, and it made it difficult to make friends at first.  I would cover criminal, civil, family law, and probate proceedings.  Each area has its own distinct vocabulary, so coming up with brief forms for words like “conservatorship” and “income and expense declaration” became a necessity.

I started my job in December, so things were definitely slower around the holidays than the rest of the year.  I think the hardest thing to wrap my head around was the fact that I was still getting a paycheck for the same amount every week whether I was in the courtroom all day or getting some office time.  Not yet grasping that concept, I thought, when I didn’t have a backlog of transcripts to work on, how was I going to have any income?  I’ve always had a transcript backlog for the past 28 years.  No backlog equals no income equals no job stability equals no rent payment.  I panicked over this the first couple of months before realizing the whole stability-of-a-paycheck thing.

The hours at the new job are also very different.  They are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a lunch break.  The traffic wouldn’t allow me to get home to let my dogs out and then back over the lunch break, so I had to hire a dog walker to come every day at lunch to walk and feed them.  It was dark when I left for work in the morning and dark when I came home.  It seemed every waking hour was spent at work.  When I came home, I’d walk and feed the dogs and fall into bed, exhausted and overwhelmed.

On a brighter note, the cool thing about 8 to 5 and no heavy transcript load is that, for the first time in my life, my weekends were mine.  As the days grew longer, the evenings became mine as well.  For the last 28 years, every time I’d tried to do a vacation or yard work or anything besides transcript work, in the back of my mind would be a little voice saying, “You should be in your office working on that transcript.”  Suddenly, there were no transcripts I was expected to work on that couldn’t be done on my lunch break or off time in my office.  Suddenly, my time was actually mine, and that space in my mind had been cleared.  For the first time in a long time, I was able to live in the moment and more fully enjoy my life.

As things settled in over the next few months, I made some work friends and settled into a rhythm that became comfortable.  I found favorite courtrooms, and the scheduler would try to keep me in my favorites when possible.  Eventually, I got to transfer to a courthouse that was closer to home, and I could go home for lunch to take care of my puppsters.  There were fewer courtrooms in the new building and, just like in the previous building, I found favorites and am lucky to have a scheduler who tries to keep me where I’m happiest.  I’ve made new friends and am happy to go to a building filled with people I can talk to each day versus working from my home and living a life of only isolation and work.

My manager must have been a saint because, man, those first few months I can’t count the number of times he heard me say, “Well, in Michigan we do it this way.”  I’m sure in his mind he was thinking, “Well, you’re not in Michigan anymore.”

A few examples of differences would be no one orders mini transcripts or word indexes here.  I don’t know how they find anything without reading the entire transcript. 

In Michigan, each day yields a new volume beginning with Page 1.  In California, multiple days can be put into one volume, and page numbering is consecutive.  This means, if you took 15 pages of an appeal one day, you need to wait for the reporter who took 2,000 pages before you to finish their portion to give you a starting page number.  Oh, how I miss the days when I could do my 15 pages, get it off my desk, and not think about it again.

In Michigan, once the original transcript is prepared, they use the same transcript for the appeal.  In California, an attorney may order daily copy and receive the originals; however, if they appeal, the reporter needs to prepare a different version of the same transcript with a different cover page and different index.  The attorney must pay for the transcript again.  If they ordered real-time and/or a daily rough, they could end up paying for different versions of the same transcript three or four times.

In Michigan, starting, ending, and break times are put on the record.  In California court (at least in mine), the clerk is responsible for recording the times.  The reporter simply puts “On the record,” “Off the record,” and “Proceeding concluded” in the record.

This COVID-19 period of isolation is kind of like stepping back in time for me, in that I was accustomed to being home a lot and working from home in Michigan.  I’m trying to see it as a writing opportunity, but I look forward to returning to the bustle of a courthouse full of people to talk to.  I still haven’t found a brief form for “Rancho Cucamonga,” but maybe this period of isolation will be my opportunity to do that.

Happy Reporting!

Kristie Dickinson, RPR, CRR, is an official court reporter in Anaheim, Calif. She is the author of the Harbor Secret Series, the Nine Days In Greece Series, and the award-winning screenplay The Other Christmas List, all available on Amazon. She blogs about her move to California at

Working through COVID-19

Here’s a collection of materials to help you through the days ahead. We’ve also collected some from other websites.

Legislative information

How the Federal stimulus bill affects the court reporting and captioning industry

COVID-19 stimulus resources

Professional/state resources

Working remotely for court reporters and captioners

Checking in with captioners

Office setups and remote preparation part of downtime

Tips for captioners about working through coronavirus

Remote but in control: Virtual depositions are the new normal

Helpful how-tos for remote depositions

Tools for web conferencing

What states allow remote and/or online notarization?

Handling of exhibits for remote depositions

Stenograph’s blog offers tools for working during COVID-19

Handy Checklist for Participant Tasks in Remote Depositions

Seven Remote Deposition Tips for Attorneys

Your home office

Working from home while parenting

Setting up a home office

Scam alert

Cyberthieves and hackers are taking advantage of the pandemic to scam the general public, and we are aware that someone is promising to sell an NCRA mailing list. Don’t be fooled! Official email requests from NCRA will come from either contact or an email with an name. NCRA emails also include an reply email. If in doubt about something you’ve received, email

Here are articles from the NCRA Technology Committee about other security issues:

Anti virus software for court reporters

TechLinks: What you need to know to protect against cyberattacks

TechLinks: Staying safe online

TechLinks: How to build a strong password

TechLinks: Is this email for real?

Better Business Bureau warns about posting your senior picture in #Classof2020 Facebook challenge

What’s happening at NCRA headquarters

New webinars April 6 and 7

Stay in the know: NCRA event updates, webinars, and more

Message from NCRA President Max Curry

NCRA events that are canceled

March and April Written Knowledge Test registration and testing

March 27 and 28 spring CLVS hands-on training and production exam

May 17-19 2020 Leadership & Legislative Boot Camp

News articles and blog posts

Consider some sample statements when taking remote depositions

Just-launched Stenovate: COVID-19 will give court reporters, stenographers work for years to come

Has the legal system been knocked out by coronavirus? Ask the lawyer

Stenograph’s blog offers tools for working during COVID-19

Effective Time Management While Working Remotely During The COVID-19 Pandemic

Has the time finally come for increased reliance on remote hearings and depositions?

How to conduct depositions remotely

Pointers for taking depositions by videoconference during COVID-19

Top legal trends going into the new decade

Top tips for a Zoom remote deposition

Public resources

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) World Health Organization

United States Department of Health & Human Services

As various areas of the United States, Canada, and other countries have been affected at different rates and in different ways, please also consult your local and state health departments as well as your personal physician about the latest updates in your region.

Personal experiences

What does your week look like?

Tips for captioners about working through coronavirus

Captioners have been reporting both cancellations of on-site jobs and an increase in remote jobs as the coronavirus pandemic has led to the closures of colleges, conferences, and even courtrooms. We reached out to a number of captioners to see what they could share to help everyone work through this fast-changing situation.

Just how fast things have changed can be seen in a story from CART captioner Laura Melby, RPR, CRR, CRC, of Rootstown, Ohio, who works with Kent State University, the University of Akron, and Stark State College, where she provides both on-site and remote CART.  She explained that she was on the scene on Monday, March 9, as Kent State held their Faculty Senate meeting and explored what-if scenarios regarding the coronavirus. Melby said, “Administrators were thinking in two-week chunks of time at that point and were looking ahead at what professors would need to do if ever the university would need to close and hold classes online. Monday evening after that Faculty Senate meeting, I emailed supervisors, professors, and students that I work with at all three institutions and let them know that I have experience in remote CART and that, yes, we can continue working together in the event any universities would close in the future.

“Much to my surprise, less than 24 hours later we were informed that classes would be held online at each university, because all were closing,” Melby continued. “Throughout the week changes have been made on what felt like an hourly basis as administrations had a chance to think through more fully the details of the situation.”

Norma Miller, RPR, CRR, CRC, a captioner and agency owner in St. Albans, Vt., explained that the coronavirus shook up her weekend: “I have spent the entire weekend (very long hours) helping to set up a new client for a big event that has been last-minute transitioned to virtual, and coordinating for one of our captioners (who is local to the event) to be able to caption for them.” At the same time, like many of us, she was also trying to prepare for her family and get ready to shelter in place.

Karen Yates, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, a captioner in Minden, Nev., and a past president of NCRA, shared: “Over 60 hours of remote meetings and conferences cancelled for the month of March alone, both U.S. and international. For those already working remotely, hang on. The demand will increase when people realize the benefits of abandoning in-person for online events.”

Patricia K. Graves, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, an agency owner and CART captioner based in Monument, Colo., shared: “While I am feeling an effect for conferences and international meetings, the rest of my work is continuing on steadily. I am lucky!”

Two important qualities for weathering this challenge are to be prepared and remain calm. Carol Studenmund, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, chair of NCRA’s Captioner Subcommittee on Captioning Inclusivity, an agency owner and captioner based in Portland, Ore., said: “We never know when something out of the ordinary is going to happen. It could be a weather event or a family issue. And now we can add a pandemic to our life’s experiences. Be prepared both financially and with regards to your health.”

“It’s always a good idea to keep a positive attitude, even if only to get yourself through some tough days and weeks,” continued Studenmund. “I am looking at this situation as an opportunity to show our clients and potential clients how up to the task we are. Our clients need some assurances that we have things under control, and we will provide solutions to their needs, not make their problems bigger.”

“Try to keep things in perspective. Things could be much worse. Adjust your expectations and try to enjoy the slowdown,” said Miller.

Go remote – and stay home

Those already set up to work remotely are seeing the advantages of past training now. “Working remotely has turned out to be a real win for me,” said Yates. “Captioning from my home, I am able to socially distance myself as the crisis builds, thus protecting my health and the health of my family. I’m also able to keep working. Despite the cancellations, work keeps pouring in. Many of the latest jobs on my books are from classes and meetings that were originally in-person meetings that have gone online in order for those schools and organizations to keep doing business while this virus circulates among our population.”

“We have been showing some old and new clients how easy it can be to switch their onsite events to remote events, and still make them accessible with quality captioning. A few new clients have already come around, because so many have been forced to shift to online, and they want to make their events accessible,” Miller said. “YouTube has recently changed their tools and documentation for setting up for live captioning. But the key words to use when explaining to a client how to set up their livestream for captioning are ‘captioning ingestion URL’ — and tell them to turn OFF (or UNCHECK) autocaptions. The captioning ingestion URL is what you put into your captioning software (or StreamText or 1CapApp) to caption directly to a YouTube live event.” 

If you don’t know how, learn it now

If you haven’t taken the time before, said Studenmund: “Learn it now. Don’t put off learning new skills and tools until this kind of challenge faces you. Pull out some ideas for new software skills you want to learn and learn them now if you have the time available.” If your work schedule is suddenly light, now is a great time to do some training on the many remote products available to report remotely, earn CEUs, or even earn a certification. Attending to any of these tasks during the enforced slowdown could gain you dividends with future jobs.

To get back to learning more:

“Remote CART has two elements,” said Graves. “One is to receive the audio. It can be via a phone line or a Skype connection or a Zoom connection or Blue Jeans. The other connection is a way to see the text so they can click on the URL to see the text. At its most basic level, we have to hear it and they have to receive and see the text.”

“Take advantage of online training programs in your newly found downtime to learn more about working with platforms you may be unfamiliar with, such as Zoom, Adobe Connect, Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, StreamText and 1CapApp,” said Melby. “No one knows how long the coronavirus pandemic will affect our jobs. We might as well plan for the worst and hope for the best. Having knowledge of several platforms cannot hurt a resume, either, right?”

“Fellow CART providers, this is our time to shine!” said Melby. “My suggestion is to look for ways you can help consumers and then put yourself out there.”

NCRF recognizes Mervin Vaughn with altruism award

NCRF Chair Tami Smith presents 2019 Altruism Award to recipient Mervin Vaungh
NCRF Chair Tami Smith presents 2019 Altruism Award to recipient Mervin Vaughn

The National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) presented the 2019 Santo J. Aurelio Award to Mervin E. Vaughn, RPR, from Runnels, Iowa. The announcement was made at a special Awards Luncheon held at NCRA’s Convention & Expo Aug. 15-18, in Denver, Colo.

The Aurelio Award is given to a working court reporter with more than 25 years of experience who has given back to the profession and to the court reporting community with no expectation of any reward. 

Vaughn has worked as a freelance and an official court reporter and currently serves as president of Huney-Vaughn Court Reporters in Des Moines, Iowa. He graduated in 1965 from the American Institute of Business in Des Moines before serving in the U.S. Army in Vietnam from 1966 to 1968.

He has been a long-time supporter of NCRF and has served in numerous volunteer positions for NCRA at the national level. He is a lifetime retired member and holds the nationally recognized professional certification of Registered Professional Reporter (RPR). At the state level, his volunteer service to the Iowa Court Reporters Association (ICRA) spans more than 50 years.

He has also been a long-time advocate for young reporters entering the profession and is known for hosting student interns or recruiting working court reporters to attend marketing events for a local court reporting school. 

For his military service, Vaughn was awarded the U.S. Army Commendation Medal for “distinguishing themselves by exceptionally meritorious service in support of allied counterinsurgency operations in the Republic of Vietnam.”

His community involvement has included volunteering for a local non-profit that assists families with a child or an adult impacted by Down Syndrome and has served for more than 20 years in various positions to support his local church.

His selflessness when giving back to others has clearly been recognized by such acts as having a scholarship established in his name, which support students entering a trade school. He has also received letters of recommendations from judges, attorneys, instructors, former students, friends, and family, for having this honor bestowed on him.

In the words of one of his children: “My dad has given his whole life to his career and strongly believes in helping others. From leaving his fiancée to go serve his country, to encouraging any student he counters, he has always put court reporting as his top priority. He has done so while rebuilding his company after a devastating fire and saying goodbye to his best friend and business partner. He’s the only person who encouraged me to pursue my CLVS and the reason we are planning our own VHP day, because he saw a need for our community.”

Six strategies for event networking

By Megan Rogers

In-person events, such as local happy hours, state association seminars, and the NCRA Convention & Expo, are often advertised as great places to network. This is true, but only with some strategizing to intentionally build the right network for you.

It’s often easier to think of networking as relationship building. Here are six steps for strengthening and building new business relationships at events.

  1. Have a goal. Think about the specific contacts you want to find at this event. Are you a new professional looking for work? A firm owner looking for new freelancers? Maybe you’re facing a particular challenge and want to meet others who have dealt with the same issue. Having a goal gives you more focus in seeking out contacts, asking helpful questions, and following up after the event.

  2. Gather your resources. If you don’t already have them, print business cards. Places like Vistaprint or Mint are quick and inexpensive. Mine have my name, job, and contact info (email, website, and professional social media links). Some people also have their photo on their card.

    If you’re an introvert (like me) and talking to strangers makes you nervous, write down some conversation starters. Some go-to convention questions can be: “What did you think of the keynote?” or “What session are you planning to go to next?” Ask about their job: “What’s an interesting assignment you recently had?” or “What is your favorite thing about being a court reporter/captioner/legal videographer?” Brainstorm open-ended questions related to your goal.

  3. Contact people before the event. Events are an opportunity to reconnect with people you’ve intended to keep in touch with or want to get to know better. Call or email people in the field that you already know to ask if they’ll also be attending. If there’s someone you especially hope to see, suggest getting together during the event, such as getting breakfast.

    If the event has an attendee list or app, use that to contact people you want to meet ahead of time, perhaps including why: “I read your JCR article about doing pro bono work, and I’d like to talk about getting started” or “I see you’re in Florida — I’m moving there and want to learn more about the area.”

  4. Get out of your comfort zone. It’s OK to talk to people you already know, but growing your network requires talking to new people. Sit with a stranger during the Awards Luncheon and introduce yourself (or sit at a mostly empty table — people will come to you). At a reception, find a group that includes friends and strangers so that you can be introduced. After a session, share a follow-up question or comment with a presenter.

    Conversations don’t always have to be about business; sometimes the best connections come from conversations that have nothing to do with work because they’re the most organic and genuine. Regardless, exchange business cards afterwards and write a quick note on theirs about the conversation (or find them on social media right away).

  5. Share your knowledge. People will come to you if you’re a recognizable source of information. Some of this needs to be arranged ahead of time (e.g., being published in industry publications like the JCR or becoming an event speaker), but you can also do it on-site by sharing takeaways, photos, etc., on social media. Twitter is the most event-friendly platform, but you can use others. Other professionals at the event (and some still at home) will see your name come up a lot and might interact with your posts or connect with you (don’t forget to do the same). If you’re a speaker, that ribbon on your nametag is an instant conversation starter because people will ask what you’re presenting. I also love introducing people to each other — networking is reciprocal!

  6. Follow up with contacts. After the event, following up is the key to turning someone into “that person I met once” to “the person I now work with or get advice from.” Contact everyone you talked to with a brief message, including a new question or comment about your conversation (this is where those notes on business cards are helpful). I aim to email people within a week of the event, but it’s better to reach out later than not at all. You can keep using an attendee list or app after the event, even for people you didn’t meet but wanted to (if it’s not obvious, mention that you both attended the same event). Then, develop a system to keep in touch. Interact with their posts on social media and email them every 2–3 months.

Networking takes time before, during, and after the event, but the more that people remember you, the stronger your relationships will be.

Megan Rogers is a freelance journalist and proofreader. She can be reached through her website,

Survey says: NCRA 2019 Business Summit inspiring and awesome

Jackie  Burrell, Fort Myers, Fla., Christine Bradshaw, Ocala, Fla., Debbie Dibble, Salt Lake City, Utah, and Dave Wenhold, NCRA Interim Executive Director & CEO at the 2019 Business Summit.

NCRA’s 2019 Business Summit held Feb. 1-3 in San Diego, Calif., attracted more than 170 attendees representing firms of all sizes from across the country and abroad and, as promised, delivered cutting-edge content and valuable takeaways for everyone.

Formerly called the NCRA Firm Owners Executive Conference, this year’s event was positioned to provide new and inspiring sessions designed to deliver the latest in business trends for success.

“The NCRA Business Summit set the stage for an exceptional year ahead!” wrote one attendee in a follow-up survey. “The integration of knowledge, support, and connection was awesome! An investment that will continue to pay dividends in the foreseeable future. Thank you, NCRA.”

Dr. Wendy Patrick leads a session on
“How to Effectively Communicate with Difficult People.”

Highlights of the 2019 Business Summit included ample networking opportunities, a discussion about trends in the industry by a panel of experts, a lesson on how to use storytelling as an influencer, and a keynote session focused on how simple shifts in everyday routines and mindsets can have a positive impact on leadership.

Other sessions included a look at the importance of community engagement and how to deal with difficult people. In addition, attendees watched a special Veterans History Project live interview that captured the story of Rear Adm. Ronne Froman, USN (Ret.) Froman served 31 years in the U.S. Navy and was the first woman to serve as commander of the U.S. Navy Region Southwest, responsible for nearly 90 Navy stations and bases around the world with a $7 billion budget.

The VHP panel included videographer Jennifer Eastman, San Diego, Calif., Jan Ballman, Minneapolis, Minn., Rosalie Kramm, San Diego, Calif., Rear Adm. Ronne Froman, and court reporter Tricia Rosate, San Diego, Calif.

“This year’s event inspired me to continue my leadership training through education,” said Jeri Kusar, RPR, CEO of Kusar Legal Service in Los Angeles, Calif. “It confirmed that my company was on the right path. I left renewed and regenerated with a clearer vision for the future.”

NCRA member Cheryl Mangio, RMR, CRR, CMRA, a freelance court reporter and agency owner from Seattle, Wash., said she found the session “Tough Love Part 2extremely valuable. It was led by past NCRA Director Mike Miller, FAPR, RDR, CRR, a freelance court reporter from Houston, Texas.

“I was really interested in Mike Miller’s talk because he is credible, and he didn’t hold back,” said Mangio. “I knew he would tell it like he sees it. It was awesome! In my opinion, he was right on. Overall, things are changing, and we need to evolve and adapt.”

2019 Business Summit opening reception

“I have always attended [the] Firm Owner’s [conference] and so naturally wanted to attend the Business Summit – I always learn so much and love seeing all of my colleagues who are so dear to me. If you want to feel the pulse of the industry and learn from other firm owners and leaders, you need to attend conferences with like-minded individuals,” she added.

Get noticed, find jobs, and start networking!

Did you know that the NCRA Online Sourcebook, the premier resource for finding professional court reporters, captioners, legal videographers, scopists, and instructors, receives 900 visits per day from peers, attorneys, firm owners, academics, and paralegals?

Log in and upgrade your listing today!

Stand out with Additional, Premium, and Premium Plus listings!

Registered, Participating, and Associate members receive a complimentary Basic Listing included with their NCRA membership. These NCRA members also have three options for upgrading their NCRA Online Sourcebook listings to stand out from the crowd.

  1. Additional Basic Listing: Purchase an Additional Basic Listing to showcase other services or your other locations. ($99)
  2. Premium Listing: Upgrade your complimentary Basic Listing for a separate dedicated detail page providing additional information about you, such as company name, alternate phone number, and services offered. ($250)
  3. Premium Plus Listing: Upgrade your complimentary Basic Listing for a separate dedicated detail page providing everything in the Premium listing, plus more, such as street address, company description, company website, Google map, and forward to a f riend. ($395)


Additional Basic Listing
Premium Listing
Premium Plus Listing
All NCRA members receive a complimentary Basic listing for their individual profile as part of their membership. Members may purchase an additional Basic listing to showcase another address or other services for that member's individual profile.

(Note: Only personal images may be used for Basic listings. Company logos can be used for upgraded Premium and Premium Plus listings only.) Please visit the FAQ section for specific details on what information is included in each Sourcebook listing.
The Premium listing upgrades your complimentary Basic listing. It provides access to a separate dedicated detail page providing additional information about you.The Premium Plus listing includes all features of the Basic and Premium Listing, plus additional information including social links, 'about me'/company description, additional contact information and more.
• First and last name
• Professional designation
• Primary reporter type (court reporters only)
• Secondary reporter type (court reporters only)
• Primary employment type (non-court reporters only)
• City, state, ZIP
• Primary phone
• Fax
• Email
• First and last name
• Professional designation
• Primary reporter type (court reporters only)
• Secondary reporter type (court reporters only)
• Primary employment type (non-court reporters only)
• Company name
• City, state, ZIP
• Primary phone
• Alternate phone
• Fax
• Email
In More Details
• Services offered
• First and last name
• Professional designation
• Primary reporter type (court reporters only)
• Secondary reporter type (court reporters only)
• Primary employment type (non-court reporters only)
• Company name
• Street address
• City, state, ZIP
• Primary phone
• Alternate phone
• Fax
• Email
• Website
• Google map
In More Details
• Services offered
• Company description
• Forward to a friend

NOTES: To upgrade to a Premium listing you must:

  • Upgrade your existing complimentary Basic listing; or
  • To have multiple listings, (one Basic and one Premium level listing), you must first purchase an Additional Basic Listing, and then upgrade this listing to the Premium level

Here’s how to upgrade Your Online NCRA Sourcebook listing!

1. Log in to the NCRA member portal to access your profile

2. If you have a single Basic listing, access the “My Main Profile” to update your social media profiles, your profile picture, and your Services. NOTE: Remember to “Save.”


  • One image is used for all of your Sourcebook listings.
  • Only certain information will display, based on your listing level. (e.g. your social media profiles will ONLY display at the Premium Plus level.)

3. Select the “My Sourcebook listings” tab to see a list of your available Sourcebook listing(s).

4. Select the pencil to the left of the listing to make edits to that specific listing.

5. Click on a listing row to access options to either purchase an Additional Basic listing, upgrade to Premium, or upgrade to Premium Plus. (The yellow background in the preview indicates which listing you are currently viewing—assuming you have multiple listings.)


6. Use the button link above each listing preview to either purchase an additional “basic listing” or upgrade your basic listing to the Premium or Premium Plus levels.

7. Follow the system prompts to complete the purchase/upgrade transaction.


Our entire community working together

By Sue Terry, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC

NCRA President Sue Terry

The Sinclair Broadcast Group has announced that it will begin using IBM Watson Captioning, a form of automatic speech recognition, for their local television news stations. NCRA feels strongly that this decision is not in the best interests of the end consumer, and we are working diligently to do all we can to protect consumers and educate broadcasters as to the importance of quality captioning provided by a stenographic captioner.

This decision has alarmed everyone in our profession, but it is also serving as a catalyst to bring our association of professionals together to assist our deaf and hard-of-hearing community. This isn’t just about captioners and the effect that such a decision has on our work. Court reporters and captioners are not resistant to using technology to improve our lives; in fact, we are on the cutting edge of technology and are using the best platforms available to efficiently provide accurate court records and captions.

This decision is about the consumers: the millions of people in the United States who use captioning to absorb vital information, information that will now become garbled, untimely, lacking speaker designations, and often unintelligible, in addition to omitting sound effects, laughter, and music. While automatic speech recognition is evolving, it cannot match the expertise and skill of a trained and certified captioner. The deaf and hard-of-hearing community should have nothing less than full participation in programming. Using automation to disseminate vital information to millions of Americans who rely on accuracy in captioning is not only irresponsible, in our opinion, but potentially dangerous to the end users of our product: quality captioning.

NCRA’s Government Relations Department Manager, Matthew Barusch, is working with our NCRA Captioning Regulatory Policy Committee to handle this new development. On behalf of the entire Board of Directors, we have full confidence in their work to address this, but we still need your help. Sign our petition urging Sinclair to change course. If you are in an area with a local Sinclair television news station that has transitioned to IBM Watson, watch the news and closely critique the captions. Enlist the help of your friends and family in doing the same. If you see the captioning is inaccurate, register your formal complaint with the FCC. With your help and our entire community working together, we can make a difference.

Sue Terry, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, is NCRA’s 2018-2019 President. She can be reached at