NCRF Trustee recognizes Veterans Day with story of stenographer to MacArthur

NCRF Trustee Marjorie Peters, FAPR, RMR, CRR, of Alexandria, Va., took the time to recognize Veterans Day by transcribing the 2003 interview of veteran Joseph Jefferson Mickey, who was assigned to serve as stenographer to Gen. Douglas MacArthur in the final days of World War II. During his interview, Mickey recalled how MacArthur dictated to him the directive that land, sea, and air personnel were to be sent into Japan for occupation after that country had surrendered.

“It was a reminder to me personally of what our veterans have done and why this program through the Library of Congress is so important – and why the Foundation chooses to be involved in it,” Peters said. “Court reporters have been capturing history for hundreds of years. Here in our midst, we have brave veterans whose stories are compelling and original; they were involved with events that were profound. We have been given the opportunity to help with a crucial task – to give access to the personal firsthand histories of our veterans of every stripe and caliber to get a more nuanced and accurate view of the events. We listen like no other professional, we observe every nuance. We have the ability to preserve more histories more efficiently than any other profession.”

Mickey was drafted in late 1944 and served as a Tech Sergeant in the Pacific Theater, where he served in the Philippines and Japan. Since he was one of few people with training on a stenotype machine, Mickey was pulled from guard duty to work under Gen. MacArthur, who needed someone in that position. Although he hadn’t worked as a stenographer between the time he received his training in the late 1930s and his stint in the army, Mickey said that the theory he learned came back to him easily. He added: “It probably saved my life because a lot of guys never came back from the jungles of Leyte in the Philippines.”

In the interview, he also spoke about his experience in Japan following the surrender, including the desperate plight of many people there, what it was like to work under MacArthur, and his opinion of MacArthur’s legacy.

“Many times, it is also deeply important for the veterans themselves to have their personal story recognized and recorded with reverence,” Peters reflected on her experience. “Let us honor their contribution and sacrifices. I promise you, reporting a Veteran’s Oral History will be the best project you have ever worked on.”

The National Court Reporters Foundation invites NCRA members to participate by transcribing a veteran’s pre-recorded history or interviewing a veteran you know. The Veterans History Project (VHP) started in 2003 when the Library of Congress was directed to collect the moving stories of many U.S. war veterans, building a lasting legacy of the diverse group of men and women who have served and sacrificed for our nation during wartime. Since then, the Foundation has worked with NCRA members to transcribe more than 4,500 interviews to support this program. Earlier this year, NCRF announced that it renewed its Memorandum of Understanding with the Library of Congress Veterans History Project for the next three years.

More information.

What the world needs now are random acts of kindness

A recent grassroots effort launched in the wake of circulating dissension in the court reporting profession has succeeded in successfully establishing a place where drama and negativity have been replaced by support for students by promoting random acts of kindness.

A recently launched Facebook group that began with just a handful of friends has grown in just four weeks to include 1,200 members and monetary donations totaling more than $21,500. The effort has also attracted donations of used steno machines, books, laptops, and more.

“It’s basically a paying-it-forward stenographic initiative,” said NCRA member Allie Hall, RMR, CRR, a full-time official court reporter and court reporting instructor from Tulsa, Okla., who started the effort. She said in the past several weeks, students both from her own programs as well as other programs have been reaching out, asking why they should continue in their studies when there has been so much talk recently, especially on social media, about the value of stenographic reporters going by the wayside.

Hall, who said she typically doesn’t engage in social media drama, was offended by what she was reading and instead chose to find a way to continue her past four-year effort to promote stenographic reporting.

“I spent two to three days talking to between 50 and 100 students, some not even mine, asking me if they would have a job after school. I decided, rather than engaging in the drama, to do something nice instead. I started the group and invited about five friends to join me in finding ways to help students, and it has just rapidly snowballed,” she added.

Hall said the initial goal was to raise about $500 to use to help out just a couple of students in need as a way to engage in random acts of kindness anonymously and to encourage those who the group helps to commit to paying it forward to support stenographic students coming up behind them.

Only professionals working in the court reporting, captioning, and related fields can join the group. Students who need help are identified by word of mouth through the group members.  Students are not allowed to join. Keeping the donors and the recipients anonymous is key to the success of the effort, Hall said.

To date, the group has assisted some 26 students in several ways. For example, the group reimbursed the cost for one student’s testing fees so they could begin working since their spouse was unemployed due to COVID-19. Another student benefited from receiving a new laptop computer, and yet another had their monthly tuition bill paid so they could continue with their education.

Other random acts of kindness by the group have included making a payment for a student’s Case CATalyst software, paying for an NCRA membership, reimbursing the cost of a study book, and purchasing a replacement chair for one student who is working as a temporary court reporter and whose only choice was a hard chair that was causing her back issues. Hall said the group ordered the chair and had it shipped directly to the courthouse. And then, of course, there is a student who posted on social media a plea for help in learning how to load the ink ribbons into the old machine she was using. Instead of advice, the student received an up-to-date used machine.

Once a student with a need is identified, Hall reaches out to them but does not tell them who passed along their name. She reaches out via Messenger or email to learn more about what their needs are and shares screenshots of the conversation so the group members can benefit from reading the exchange.

“The way 2020 has been, I think people just want to do good. We set this effort up to only do good. There is no discussion about the state of reporting or any other drama allowed. And the students report back to us about how they are doing,” she added.

Most of the students who have been helped are at their exit speeds and typically respond with disbelief that professionals in their chosen field want to help them succeed. They are also surprised that all they are asked in return is to promise to pay it forward to someone else once they begin working.

With donations continuing to come in daily, Hall is setting up a non-profit to ensure there is transparency for those who support the effort.

“The whole point of the group is to promote random acts of kindness. We are a group of like-minded professional reporters and others involved in the field doing random acts of kindness for students,” Hall said.

“2020 has been so challenging that we needed to come together. Students are overcome by this. Everyone in the group believes this is helping them and the students believe in humanity again in a year where so many people are struggling so much. When you have been blessed by this career and everything it gives to you, it feels good to be able to give back,” she added.

If you are a professional in the court reporting, captioning, or a related legal field and are interested in joining the group, making a donation, or want to pass along information about a student in need, contact Allie Hall at

Celebrating National Punctuation Day

From a JCR Weekly poll

What punctuation mark is misused the most?

Comma 52.9 percent

Semi-colon 31.6 percent

Quotation marks 3.8 percent

Hyphen 3 percent

Exclamation mark 2.7 percent

Colon 1.9 percent

Dash 1.5 percent

Parentheses 0.8 percent

Question mark 0.8 percent

In honor of National Punctuation Day on Sept. 24, we asked NCRA members for examples of punctuation errors that are the most annoying. Here are some of the responses:

Not using the Oxford comma!!!!!

Rachel Barkume, RPR, CRR, a freelance reporter and CART Captioner in Alta, Calif.

 “This“. and “that“, Hurts to even type it that way!

Heather Bradfield, RPR, CRR, CRC, a freelance reporter in North Logan, Utah

People who use apostrophes to make nouns plural!

Stephanie Koenigs, RPR, a freelance reporter in Fond du lac, Wisc.

The dash because, if I’m using it, I’m usually trying to make sense out of someone’s sloppy, broken sentences. So I guess it’s really the speaker that annoys me.

Deborah Cohen-Rojas, RDR, CRR, an official reporter in Grayslake, Ill.

‘ (apostrophe) in the wrong place’s . It’s getting worse all the time.

Diane Stanley, a broadcast captioner in Ocean Shores, Wash.

Holiday cards that say From The Smith’s. I can’t even enjoy the sentiment of the season!

 Amy Doman, RMR, CRR, a freelance reporter in Carmel, Ind.

Apostrophe abuse. Apostrophes used for plurals or in possessive pronouns like her’s or their’s instead of hers or theirs.

Elsa Jorgensen, a freelance reporter in Birmingham, Mich.

Omitted direct address commas.

Rich Germosen, RDR, CRR, a freelance reporter in North Brunswick, N.J.

We are the Blackburns, not the Blackburn’s.

Brenda Blackburn, RPR, a freelance reporter in Hollandale, Miss.

1. Hyphenated adverb/adjective pairs and 2. “She was 10-years-old.” Aggh! “She was a 10-year-old girl,” great.

Aimee Suhie, a freelance reporter in New Fairfield, Conn.

My number one is when the apostrophe is used with numbers.

“It happened in the 1980’s.”

“The price was in the 140’s.”

Stop the madness!

Cassy Kerr, RPR, CRR, CRC, an official reporter in The Village, Okla.

The misuse of plural possessives.

Barb Quinn, RMR, a freelance reporter in West Chester, Pa.

For me it’s not using a semicolon before “and” when joining two clauses when there is punctuation in one of the clauses.

Susan Horak, RDR, CRR, a scopist in Columbus, Ohio

Some members find extra languages help with steno

How many languages do you know?

I know English and steno. 61.2%

I know English, steno, and one more (but not fluently). 28.5%

I know English, steno, and one more language that I use regularly. 5.8%

I know English, steno, and more than one other language but not fluently. 4.6%

Last week’s JCR Weekly poll question asked about how many languages NCRA members know in addition to English and steno. Responses showed a number of multilingual people, and some of them attributed knowing other languages to helping them succeed in their work.

D’Arcy McPherson, RDR, CRR, CRC, CMRS, CRI, is a captioner in Victoria, BC, Canada, who also knows French. 

“I have spoken French since I was a child,” McPherson said. “I do think that a second language was helpful in lowering the mental roadblocks to understanding steno theory. Having both English and French is extremely helpful and has been essential in my employment.”

John Román-Martínez, CMRS, CRI, CPE, a freelance court reporter in Old San Juan Sta., Puerto Rico, said knowing Spanish affected how he learned steno. He said he has also found that “realtime in the Spanish language is doable in an English language software platform.”

Phyllis Waltz, RMR, CRR, CRC, a freelance reporter in Pearland, Texas, has studied German and Spanish. She said she doesn’t feel that speaking another language helped her learn steno. 

“Speaking is different than immediately translating to a different ‘written’ language,” Waltz said. “I understand enough Spanish to know when the interpreter is not translating everything accurately and fully. Lawyers will brag about using a court reporter who also speaks Spanish because it saves them money. Of course, none of the court reporters who do that are RPR certified. I inform the lawyer that is illegal, as they are not certified interpreters and the lawyer is risking their record. I have begun asking interpreters for their certification number before the deposition and note it on the appearance page. It is very obvious when the interpreter is not certified.”

Lisa Selby-Brood, RMR, a freelance reporter in Clearwater, Fla., also knows Spanish and said that it has proven invaluable living in Florida.

“It didn’t necessarily affect how I learned steno, but it has certainly come in handy recently in my job with steno,” Selby-Brood said. “I can pretty much follow the gist of the conversation when I have a Spanish interpreter. Sometimes I’ve known what the person said in Spanish, and it was not translated properly, to me, but then that’s not my job to say anything. However, I remember one specific job where the interpreter was so bad I remember thinking to myself, man, I think I could do a better job than she’s doing. Sure enough, at the end of the deposition — I’m not sure why he waited — but one of the attorneys put on the record that he did speak Spanish, he was not satisfied with the interpreter’s abilities. In fact, he stopped and corrected her translations several times in the deposition and that he just wanted to state that on the record.

Selby-Brood pointed out another benefit to knowing other languages.

“I just think it helps if you know some language, especially one that’s spoken in the area where you live,” she said. “It’s also kind of fun to have everyday words from that language in your dictionary, in case the attorney throws in a few words there, like no mas, no bueno, and, hey, if that’s what he says on the record, it has to go in the transcript like that!”

Devora Hackner is a freelance reporter and CART captioner in Brooklyn, N.Y., who also knows Yiddish and Hebrew.

She said knowing those languages affected how she learned steno.

“Hebrew is a phonetic language. The vowels in Hebrew always make the same sound regardless of what letter/vowel comes before and after,” Hackner said. “It’s very unlike the English language but very similar to the phonetics of stenography/shorthand. I also believe that knowing another language gives one confidence that it’s possible to add yet another language.”

Hackner also said that knowing other languages helps her connect with people from different backgrounds or cultures.

“Being able to communicate with them in their language of choice sets the stage for a great working environment!” Hackner said. “Even if you know just a few Russian words, for example, it makes the other party feel engaged.”

Sue Garcia, RPR, is a freelance reporter and CART Captioner in Tacoma, Wash. She knows Spanish, French, Mandarin Chinese, some Italian, modern Greek, and some American Sign Language (ASL). She said knowing other languages absolutely affects how she learned steno, and she has always felt it is an underappreciated link to learning steno.

“From rote memorization of steno words to root words, prefixes, and suffixes, phonetic parsing of words, I feel all of that made learning steno, and continuing to evolve my writing, a very smooth process,” Garcia said.

She also thinks it affects how she does her job.

“English is, in my opinion, a mutt language that has enveloped so much vocabulary from other languages,” Garcia said. “Due to my wide and varying knowledge of foreign words and pronunciations, I have a solid foundation in finding spellings and cultural references that come up so often. The ASL is useful in communicating with my CART clients who use it, but I really need much more.”

NCRA member turned novelist inspired by court reporting experience

Andrea J. Johnson

NCRA member Andrea J. Johnson is a court reporter turned freelance entertainment writer for the women’s lifestyle website Popsugar. This love for insider gossip has inspired her to take real-life headlines and turn them into mind-bending mysteries. The Victoria Justice Series is a perfect example of this dynamic as it uses Johnson’s legal background to explore what would happen if a trial stenographer took the law into her own hands. The JCR Weekly recently reached out to her to find out how her court reporting career has helped inspire her stories.

JCR | Where are you from originally?

AJ | I’m originally from the Chesapeake Bay area, specifically the Maryland portion of the Delmarva Peninsula. The area’s coastal setting is quite idyllic, so I’ve set my mystery in that region as well — but on the Delaware side of things since that’s where I spent the most time working as a court reporter.

JCR | How did you make the switch from court reporter to author?

AJ | Becoming an author is something I’ve wanted to do since I was 8 years old, but I’d put it off for decades because writing for a living didn’t seem practical. In fact, that’s one of the reasons I originally became a court reporter: I thought I’d get all the joys of working with syntax and editing without the stress of creating original content. But when my mom was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, she urged me not to play life safe, so I decided to get my graduate degree in creative writing and pursue the career that had eluded me all those years.

JCR | Have you always enjoyed writing?

AJ | Yes, I’ve always enjoyed the idea of writing but not necessarily the practice of writing. My first memory of wanting to be a writer goes back to the third grade. I would finish a book and want to extend the life of the characters so that I could continue to live in that world. Sometimes I’d even start writing a new chapter to the story — a form of old school fan fiction, I suppose — but I’d quickly get discouraged by the discipline it took to shape my ideas. It wasn’t until I grew up and sought guidance on the nuances of story structure that I began to have long-lasting fun with writing.

JCR | What motivated you to develop the Victoria Justice series?

AJ | The character of Victoria Justice has lived in my brain since 2006 although back then I didn’t know what to do with her. She was my reaction to a call for action stars for the reality series Who Wants to Be a Superhero? presented by Stan Lee. The premise of the show was for contestants to create characters who could become comic book heroes. In my mind, what better hero could there be than a court stenographer who seeks to undo bad verdicts through vigilante justice? But at that time, I hadn’t discovered my literary passion, so I couldn’t take advantage of the epiphany. Cut to several years later. I’ve just left my job as a stenographer to pursue writing, and I am searching for a novel idea. So I tweak Victoria to make her more human than hero and match her up with highly fictionalized snippets of real-life court cases. And, voila, the Victoria Justice Court Reporting Mystery series was born.

JCR | What influence did your experience as a court reporter have on your developing the character Victoria Justice?

AJ | Just about everything I’ve experienced as a reporter has been crammed into this series — from the use of long vowels in briefs to the secret joys of AudioSync — but the thing that’s had the most influence on Victoria’s characterization is the outward perception of the profession by those unfamiliar with what we do. She’s often ridiculed for being the one person in the courtroom whose job it is to be seen, not heard. People wag their fingers at her, call her an overpaid notetaker, and assume she’s not very smart. I played into that a bit with the physicality as well by making her short and meek but inside she has a big heart and tons of snark. And while the thrust of the series is about solving murders, an equally large portion of it is about Victoria finding her voice and learning to stand up for herself. In a way, she becomes the town’s last bastion for morality by using the profession’s tenants of accuracy, honesty, and neutrality in the face of the law to claim her space in the world.

JCR | Is the main character based on anyone in particular?

AJ | Crime author Ross Macdonald, known as Kenneth Millar in real life, wrote a popular essay called “The Writer as Detective Hero,” theorizing that mystery writers tend to create sleuths that are a reflection of their personalities whether conscious of this or not. While I hate to go against tradition, I can honestly say Victoria isn’t a reflection of me or anyone I know. However, she does carry my passion for the profession.

JCR | Poetic Justice is your first in the series; correct? What inspired this storyline?

AJ | Yes, Poetic Justice is the first in the series. The inspiration for the storyline comes from a single moment of trial as reported upon by a Delaware newspaper. While testifying on the stand, a police officer opens his drug evidence envelope only to find that the illegal substances have been replaced with over-the-counter medications. I used that imagery as the launching point of the story, but what happens thereafter is a product of my imagination. After all, I want the official court reporter, not the lawyers or the attorneys, to act as the focus and sole narrator of the tale.

JCR | How many novels do you plan for the series?

AJ | I think the concept behind this series is open-ended enough that it could go on forever, but I have always conceived of it as 12 books — like 12 jurors. That’s a nice round number with a large enough arc that Victoria can mature over time and hit professional or personal milestones like starting her own deposition company or falling in love.

JCR | What advice would you give others considering a career down the writing path?

AJ | Do your homework. You don’t have to spend tons of money on graduate school like I did, but you should read as much as you can about the types of books you’d like to write. Join membership organizations that match your writing interest like Mystery Writers of America or Romance Writers of America. Take a class through one of those organizations (you can even do so without being a member). Ask a published author to be your mentor. Never stop searching for knowledge and researching the field. Just like the court reporting profession, you have to study, practice, and keep your skills sharp. Writers might not have CEUs but they have CNEIs — a commitment to constant never-ending improvement.

JCR | How long did you work as a court reporter?

AJ | I was lucky enough to complete school and gain my state certification in two and a half years. I worked in the field for seven.

JCR | Did you work as an official, freelancer, captioner?

AJ | I worked as a deposition reporter in the state of California for two years and as an official reporter in Delaware for five years.

JCR | How did you learn about the court reporting profession?

AJ | The first time I heard about court reporting was in high school since it’s a profession that always shows up on those “Ten Lucrative Careers You Didn’t Know About” lists. However, I didn’t consider becoming one until decades later when I was searching for a career where I didn’t have to adhere to the typical nine-to-five work week.

JCR | Where did you go to court reporting school?

AJ | I attended Bryan College School of Court Reporting, in Los Angeles, Calif. — this was back before they moved that program online — but I only stayed with them through my 180-level proficiency tests. After that, I transferred to Downey Adult School, in Downey, Calif., to finish my speed training in preparation for the California certification exam. While I wouldn’t recommend switching schools at such a crucial point in the program, I felt comfortable doing so because I already had my bachelor’s degree. Like many people, I came to court reporting as a second career, so gaining speed was the toughest part for me. Luckily, the gamble paid off, and I passed my licensing exam on the first attempt.

Johnson has also written several articles on the craft of writing for websites, such as LitReactor, Submittable, Funds for Writers, and DIY MFA. When she isn’t developing her stories, Johnson enjoys cuddling up with a piping hot mug of ginger tea and poring over the latest supermarket tabloids. She can be reached at Read an excerpt from Poetic Justice here.

Bringing steno to TikTok

Claudia Booton, RPR, is an official in Denver District Court in Denver, Colo., who has been using the social media platform TikTok to promote court reporting and captioning. Her videos range from testing for certification to the skill of stenography to knowing the right time to request a bathroom break. She told the JCR Weekly how she got the idea.

JCR | How long have you been a court reporter?

CB | I have been a reporter for 24 years. I started school in the mid-1990s. I actually heard about court reporting in the late 1980s when they came to my high school. It always interested me, but I went the college route and after graduating I decided I’m going to look into court reporting and the rest is history. I was a freelance reporter for most of my career, and just the past year (I call it my midlife career crisis), I moved to the official side and love every bit of it.

JCR | How long have you been on TikTok?

CB | I just started playing around on TikTok since the beginning of this pandemic. I heard my kids talking about it but never thought about it until I got on it and thought a lot of the videos were so funny!

Claudia Booton, RPR

JCR | How do you get the ideas for your posts?

CB | When I saw that the main viewers, or “TikTokers,” were the GenZ and the Millennials, I thought, wouldn’t this be the perfect platform to promote our profession and just put out there the funny things that happen to reporters, whether it be the students still in school or even the seasoned reporters working for years? I try to take the “trending” songs on TikTok and conform it in such a way that it relates to reporting so that we all can say, “Oh, that totally happens to me, too!”

JCR | What kind of feedback have you gotten?

CB | I wouldn’t say my audience is very large (yet) on TikTok (still waiting on my thousands of followers, LOL), but the Facebook forums that I’ve posted it to seem to enjoy the posts. I have gotten a couple of questions about the profession on TikTok, and, hey, that’s progress. If I can get one person on TikTok saying, “I’ve always thought about this; I think I’ll look into this,” then my mission is accomplished.

 JCR | Are you active on other social media platforms?

CB | I do have Facebook and Instagram accounts.

JCR | Is there anything else you would like to add?

CB | At a time in our life now in 2020 with all that is going on in our country, I’m just using this time working from home to add a little humor. And hopefully with my TikToks, I’m able to give back a little with a smile or a laugh.

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?

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow highlights the work of human court reporters

On Feb. 20, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow expressed her thanks to court reporters, saying: “It is really hard to get detailed, perfect court transcripts turned around same day so that we in the news media can read from them on the same day that court proceedings happen.”

During the segment, Maddow discussed the work of court reporters with colleague Lawrence O’Donnell. He noted the stenographers “are just miracle workers in the way they capture every word.”

“We are happy that Ms. Maddow took a moment to recognize the talents of court reporters,” said NCRA President Max Curry, RPR, CPE. “We were aware of Ms. Maddow’s admiration for the transcripts she uses regularly and the appreciation she has shown many of our colleagues working in the courts over the years. But we are so appreciative of her taking the time to recognize our hard work on national television, so that more people can recognize the importance of the official record in courts as well as the role stenographers have in protecting the public interest.” Curry also sent a letter of thanks to Maddow and MSNBC.

In the past few weeks, court reporters and captioners throughout the United States and around the world have sent articles and letters to MSNBC and other news outlets and then shared those posts through a wide variety of social media outlets to call attention to the importance of the court reporter in legal proceedings in local, state, and federal courthouses, as well as on the floor of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. These articles and posts were in response to other comments made on MSNBC by Brian Williams and former Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill. Many court reporters and captioners have noted that accurate verbatim transcripts happen with technology, often by providing same-day transcripts and sometimes by providing access to a record in real time. Captioners shared that they use the same technology to provide access to public hearings, classrooms, conferences, and live national broadcasts for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. This grassroots campaign overlapped the celebration of the NCRA Court Reporting & Captioning Week, held Feb. 8-15, during which the Association secured official proclamations recognizing the work of court reporters and captioners by U.S. Reps. Ron Kind of Wisconsin and Rodney Davis of Illinois.

A sample of the articles referenced include:

“Thank you to everyone who supported this effort,” said NCRA Executive Director Dave Wenhold, CAE, PLC. “Clearly, your time and effort have helped the professions be recognized and valued for your technical skills, your quiet integrity, and your importance in providing an accurate and reliable transcript. We have always known that by working together, we have a stronger voice.”

Green River College motivates students with pins

Everyone who has been a court reporting student knows the effort that goes into achieving each new speed level. One school, Green River College in Auburn, Wash., recognizes that effort with pins commemorating each success.

The school has been awarding the pins for about 10 years for theory and each speed level between 40 and 225 wpm.

“The pins are very popular with our students,” said Sidney Weldele-Wallace, CRI, CPE, the program director of the Court Reporting & Captioning program. “They serve as tangible incentives for progressing through speed levels as well as a visual reminder of how far they have progressed, since we recommend pinning/placing them where they see them every day during their class/practice sessions. We do pin recognition during one of our CRSA (Court Reporting Student Association) meetings every fall and spring quarter. They are a ‘badge of honor’ that we enjoy giving to our deserving students to let them know how very proud we are of them!”

Weldele-Wallace said she thinks the idea was from an NCRA Teacher’s Workshop and discussions on retention and motivating students to persist and succeed. 

Some students use the pins on their personal vision boards, Weldele-Wallace said.

“I believe they are effective as a motivational tool and recognition of hard work and commitment on their part,” she said.

NCRA student member Rachel Helm is a student at Green River College and said she finds the pins motivating.

“I joke with my classmates that sometimes the thought of a shiny new pin is the only thing that keeps me going,” Helm said. “We all know how easy it is to get overwhelmed and lose sight of the end goal when we’re in school, so the pins are incredibly valuable to me and my peers, no matter how small a reward they might seem to be.”

Helm has the 40, 60, 80, 100, 120, and 140 wpm pins. She is now testing at 160 wpm in jury charge and literary and 180 wpm in testimony.

“I have them stuck in a cork board above my desk, so I look at them every time I sit down to practice,” Helm said. “We only get a pin when we’ve passed all three categories in that speed, so it’s extra satisfying once they’re in hand. You know you’ve really mastered that speed, through and through.”

2019 words of the year

Again this year, dictionaries chose the words most talked about, thought about, or worried about to be the words of the year for 2019.


Merriam-Webster chose they as its word of the year. As explained, “It reflects a surprising fact: even a basic term — a personal pronoun — can rise to the top of our data. Although our lookups are often driven by events in the news, the dictionary is also a primary resource for information about language itself, and the shifting use of they has been the subject of increasing study and commentary in recent years. Lookups for they increased by 313 percent in 2019 over the previous year.”

Oxford Dictionary

Oxford Dictionary chose climate emergency as their word for 2019. The company noted: “This year, heightened public awareness of climate science and the myriad implications for communities around the world has generated enormous discussion of what the UN secretary-general has called ‘the defining issue of our time.’ But it is not just this upsurge in conversation that has caught our attention. Our research reveals a demonstrable escalation in the language people are using to articulate information and ideas concerning the climate. This is most clearly encapsulated by the rise of climate emergency in 2019.” picked existential as their word for 2019. “We define the adjective existential in two senses. The first is ‘of or relating to existence.’ Entering English in the late 1600s, this existential is often used when the fact of someone or something’s being — its very existence — is at stake. Our second sense of existential is ‘concerned with the nature of human existence as determined by the individual’s freely made choices.’ This existential is related to existentialism, a philosophy that affirms our individual agency in making meaningful, authentic choices about our lives,” said representatives for the company.