Deadline for NCRA photo contest extended

The deadline to submit photos for NCRA’s contest has been extended to July 27. It’s your chance to help NCRA find great images of court reporting, captioning, and legal video situations for potential use in marketing and other promotional materials.

NCRA is looking for talent among the membership to help provide high-quality, creative photos featuring steno machines and video equipment that can be used in various print and online marketing and promotional materials to promote the court reporting, captioning, and legal videography professions, as well as NCRA’s overall mission. To help in the search, NCRA’s Communications & Marketing Team is kicking off the first in what could be several contests open to all NCRA members.

Prizes of $50 Amazon.com eGift cards for the winning photos will be awarded. The categories include: funniest, I love steno, most clever, best work environment, most interesting, and creative photos of CLVSs. Winners will be notified by email.

To assist with the task at hand, guidelines regarding how to submit entries, tips on backdrops, layout, lighting, samples, and more can be found on the NCRA website. All submissions must include a signed release form, which can also be found on the contest page. All submitted photos will be considered for use in print and online marketing and promotional materials, whether they win in their category or not.

Go ahead and take your best shot. You might just find yourself credited with a photo in one of NCRA’s promotional materials or even in an issue of the JCR Weekly or JCR magazine.

Join the fun and be part of NCRA’s first virtual Realtime Contest

The NCRA Literary Lockdown, NCRA’s first virtual realtime contest, is happening Wednesday, Aug. 5, from 4-5:30 p.m. ET. It’s a fun literary test at 180 words per minute that will be delivered live by a special guest reader! Register now and be a part of the excitement. Please note that registration closes July 22.

To participate, candidates must be a Member of NCRA in good standing and hold any of the following credentials: RMR, RDR, CRR, or CRC.

The top three qualifiers will be announced live on Aug. 8 during the NCRA Connect Virtual 2020 after the keynote speaker. A slide will also be shown that lists the names of all qualifiers. At the same time, all names of qualifiers will be posted to TheJCR.com, the NCRA website, and pushed out to social media.

Contestants will be required to sign and submit a consent form agreeing that their participation is on “the honor system” and that they acknowledge that this contest is for fun only. It does not count for statistics as part of the onsite and live National Realtime Contest.

In lieu of a registration fee, contestants are encouraged to consider donating to support NCRA’s A to Z® Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program. The link to donate is on the registration page. Registrants will receive a link to the Zoom room on the day of the contest.

The planned timing for the event will be as followed in Eastern times:

  • 4 p.m. Zoom room opens for contestants to set up (contestants will also be allowed to call in to hear the live dictation)
  • 4:45 p.m. a two-minute warm-up with live reading will take place
  • 4:55 p.m. introduction of guest dictator
  • 5 p.m. contest begins – one leg, literary at 180 WPM

The following guidelines should help everyone prepare for doing their best:

  • Tests will be graded using NCRA’s What is an error for realtime?
  • Contestants must achieve 95 percent accuracy compared to transcript to qualify.
  • Contestants will receive preview words.
  • Contestants will have five minutes to upload their files in either ASCII, RFT, or PDF format to a Dropbox account or Google drive (TBD). Contact number(s) and email(s) will be provided at the time of the contest for contestants to reach out should they have problems.

While no CEUs will be awarded for this contest:

  • The top three qualifiers will receive via mail a medal and an official certificate recognizing their wins.
  • All qualifiers will receive via mail an official certificate recognizing that they qualified in NCRA’s first virtual realtime contest.
  • Remainder of the contestants will receive via mail an official certificate recognizing that they participated in NCRA’s first virtual realtime contest.

Good luck!

Learn how social media can boost your business

Cathy O’Neal, communications director for Levitt Pavilion in Arlington, Texas, an outdoor concert venue that presents more than 50 free concerts a year, wants to know what you are doing on Sunday, Aug. 9. Join her as she presents Social Media Bootcamp at the NCRA Connect Virtual 2020 and learn how you can use social media to help grow your business and expand your presence in the marketplace. Watch her video here to learn about what she plans to share. 

NCRA Connect 2020 is the Association’s first-ever virtual conference, with live events happening Aug. 7-9. Participants will have access to a variety of informative and interesting educational sessions, a dynamic keynote presentation, and numerous networking opportunities packed with fun, games, and prizes, and much more.

O’Neal’s session, Social Media Bootcamp, offers a fun and enlightening look at how social media can be changed from chore to tool in a firm’s business plan for success. O’Neal holds a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Arlington, where she also serves as an adjunct professor in the Communications Department teaching media writing, public relations management, and public relations case studies.

According to O’Neal, social media can help you gain visibility, reputation, and clients. She will cover the who, what, when, where, and why of social media from the vantage point of a seasoned communications pro who finished 2019 with a 3.2 million Facebook reach! O’Neal will help attendees learn how to weed out the stuff they don’t need, focus on the stuff they do need, analyze real-world examples, and help them walk away from the session with action items they can put in practice immediately to start building the social media presence they want. 

See the complete schedule of sessions including networking opportunities, exhibitor showcases, and the virtual vendor hall at NCRA.org.

“As we all start to settle into our new normal, NCRA is excited to bring its annual Conference & Expo to you, wherever your new normal may be. Please join your Board of Directors, colleagues, and friends at NCRA Connect Virtual 2020,” said NCRA President-elect Christine Phipps, RPR, a firm owner from North Palm Beach, Fla.

“This virtual conference is a first for NCRA, and I encourage everyone to pull up a chair, a couch, or whatever your choice of seating may be these days and get ready to enjoy the insights of a dynamic keynote speaker, a variety of educational sessions popping with valuable information to help you grow professionally, and ample networking opportunities,” she added.

If you’ve never had the opportunity to attend an NCRA conference in person, let NCRA Connect 2020 be the perfect first-time opportunity. With low registration fees, no travel or hotel costs, and the ability to access all of the sessions up to 14 days after the event, there’s no reason not to attend.

“NCRA in-person national conventions have been occurring almost every year since the first one was held in 1899. Be a part of history in the making as we turn a new technological chapter in the 121-year evolution of NCRA,” Phipps added.

Full registration includes access to all three days of activities, including all non-CEU activities and 16 CEU sessions of the registrant’s choice. The member cost for full registration is $300 for early access, which ends on July 15, and $325 for regular registration. A half registration package is also available that includes access to all three days for all non-CEU activities and seven CEU sessions of the registrant’s choice. The member cost for half registration is $180 for early access and $200 for regular registration.

For more information about registration and nonmember registration pricing visit the NCRA website. Remember, sessions will be available to view for 14 days after the event, so you won’t have to worry about missing a minute of this virtual experience.

NCRA member featured in Vice News

Christopher Day, RPR, an official court reporter in Staten Island, N.Y., was interviewed for a June 18 Vice News story about court reporter’s accuracy when taking down African American English (AAE) dialect.

Read more.

Board of Directors to host Board Meeting in place of Annual Business Meeting

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent decision to cancel the NCRA Conference & Expo in Orlando, Fla., the Board of Directors has voted to dispense with the Annual Business Meeting and hold a Board of Directors meeting virtually in lieu thereof. This decision is based directly on the NCRA’s Constitution and Bylaws (Ref. Article IX, Section 1b) and allows us to conduct the needed business to allow the organization to move forward, even during this unprecedented time. The Board had very lengthy discussions on this and feels that, as a member-driven organization, we would be remiss if we were to move forward with the usual and customary procedures of an Annual Business Meeting in a way that would not allow for members to take part in the democratic process of debate on key bylaws changes.
The logistics of handling this online is too unwieldy to give the meeting the importance it deserves. Therefore, the Board will hold its meeting and invite members of NCRA who wish to observe to attend electronically. More information on the upcoming Board meeting will be forthcoming in the near future through the NCRA.org website and the JCR Weekly. Registration will open closer to the date of the meeting. Please note: When the Board goes into executive session, all observing members will be dismissed.
As part of the decision to forgo an Annual Business Meeting, the Board has also decided that all 2020 proposed bylaws amendments will be held over until the 2021 annual business meeting. Under the circumstances, the entire Board has agreed that it is in NCRA’s best interest to postpone any bylaws changes until 2021. 
In addition, the announcement of the NCRA Distinguished Service Award honoree and the recognition of new members as Fellows of the Academy of Court Reporters (FAPR), which are traditionally announced during the annual NCRA Conference & Expo, have also been postponed until next year.
Please note: In the July JCR, there is a notice stating that the Annual Business Meeting was scheduled to be held virtually on Friday, August 7. That was the Board’s plan at the time the issue went to print, but this notice supersedes the notice in the print issue.

Register now for the June NCRA Town Hall

Register now for the next virtual NCRA Town Hall, scheduled for Saturday, June 27, at 10 a.m. (Eastern) with NCRA President Max Curry, RPR, CRI. Curry’s guest will be Director Lance Boardman, RDR, CRR, a federal court reporter from Cleveland, Ohio, and a member of NCRA’s Policies & Procedures Committee. Conversation will cover changes in NCRA social media policies, such as advertising, and why these changes are being put into place, as well as information about the upcoming NCRA Connect 2020 virtual Conference taking place Aug. 7-9, and more.

The NCRA virtual Town Hall meetings also offer members the opportunity to ask questions via the Q&A feature. Members can also catch up on previous Town Halls by clicking here. Only NCRA Members may attend the Town Halls. Why wait? Register now!

Registration opens July 1 for NCRA Connect Virtual 2020

No packing necessary! Just mark your calendar and register to join us virtually Aug. 7-9 for the NCRA Connect Virtual 2020. Register by July 15, and take advantage of the savings being offered during the early access period.

“Unfortunately, we were forced to cancel the 2020 Annual Conference & Expo due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we are excited to announce that registration is opening for NCRA Connect Virtual 2020, which promises to bring learning, fun, networking, and more to members and nonmembers whether they are court reporters, captioners, legal videographers, teachers, or students,” said NCRA President Max Curry, RPR, CRI. “I encourage everyone to take advantage of joining together to celebrate our profession and each other via this new virtual platform.”

NCRA Connect, the Association’s first-ever virtual conference, offers participants an array of educational sessions, a dynamic keynote presentation, numerous networking opportunities packed with fun, games, and prizes, and much more. Full registration includes access to all three days of activities, including all non-CEU activities and 16 CEU sessions of the registrant’s choice. The member cost for full registration is $300 for early access and $325 for regular registration. A half registration package is also available which includes access to all three days including all non-CEU activities and seven CEU sessions of the registrant’s choice. The member cost for half registration is $180 for early access and $200 for regular registration. More information about registration and nonmember registration pricing will be listed on the website on July 1 when registration opens.

Schedule highlights include keynote speaker Amy Henry,  who was the last woman standing in the first season of The Apprentice and now is a published author and formidable businesswoman. In addition, Cathy O’Neal, communications director for Levitt Pavilion Arlington, an outdoor concert venue that presents more than 50 free concerts a year, has planned a fun and enlightening look at how social media can be changed from chore to tool in a firm’s business plan for success.

For more information, contact meetings@ncra.org. See you online!

Important message about 2020 NCRA Conference & Expo

Dear NCRA members,

We hope this message finds you safe and healthy during this difficult time. NCRA understands that no one has been left untouched by the pandemic, and, with that in mind, the Association has made the difficult, but appropriate, decision to cancel the 2020 NCRA Conference & Expo that was to take place on Aug. 6-9 in Orlando, Florida. In the meantime, NCRA will be offering some virtual sessions for members to earn CEUs around the same time, so keep your schedules open.

Based on the health directives at both the national and state level, NCRA and the Hyatt Regency Orlando believe the best course of action is to reschedule the Conference for a future date. NCRA will not incur any fees or contractual penalties for canceling, but instead has agreed to secure the Orlando site for our 2022 Conference & Expo.

That said, the decision to cancel was not an easy one. NCRA’s Board of Directors understands the importance of the many benefits the annual meeting provides to its members and looks forward to the 2021 Conference happening in Las Vegas, Nevada, resembling more of the norm. However, this decision aligns with NCRA’s number one concern — the safety and well-being of our members, their guests, staff, vendors, and all stakeholders in these professions.

The NCRA Board of Directors and staff are working on creating a virtual event that will provide members with the opportunity to experience the educational content they desire, as well as the possibility of online networking sessions. Stay tuned in the coming weeks as more details will be shared via email messages and the JCR Weekly.

In the meantime, thank you for being a member of NCRA and for being a vital part of the court reporting, captioning, and legal videography community. Continue to stay positive in mind and spirit! May you all stay healthy. We will be in touch. Together, we will get through this.  

Appreciatively,

Max Curry, RPR, CRI, LCR, B.C.R., NCRA President

Dave Wenhold, CAE, PLC, NCRA Executive Director

Facebook group celebrates certifications

Margary Rogers, RPR, CRI, recently started the Facebook group Stenographers Leveling up with Certifications. She talked to the JCR Weekly about what she hoped to accomplish with the group.

JCR | What gave you the idea for the group?

MR | The main reason I created this group is to encourage stenographers, including myself, to level up and take and successfully pass certifications tests. I wanted to provide a safe space for test-takers. There are many reporters who fear taking tests; many are embarrassed that they haven’t passed tests after many tries. I also wanted experienced reporters who obtained the highest level of certifications to join the group to encourage, train, mentor, and provide answers to questions that many reporters have. I want reporters to know that we are all in this together and that we have to help each other and celebrate each other when we fail and when we pass. This is a no-judgment-zone group. We learn from each other and support each other.

I am also a Certified Reporting Instructor (CRI). So I, along with other test-taking experts and highly decorated certificate holders, post test-taking tips, online testing tips, and test practice links. I also like to keep members of the group abreast of what tests are being offered and registration dates. Even though NCRA sends out weekly reminders of events, I thought having a page specifically based on certifications will keep people focused on their goal of obtaining certifications.

JCR | What do you hope to accomplish with the group?

MR | I firmly believe in teamwork. My desire is to have all members share test-taking strategies, common test-taking mistakes, post pictures of testing set-ups, how they prepare for tests, provide practice material, tips on how to write smarter, and discuss smart software settings. I want to hear good reports. I want to hear: “I passed the test that I have been trying to pass for the last five years.” I want to hear: “Ok, I am going to take an online test for the first time.” We also like to celebrate and acknowledge members when they pass tests and become certified. We want to celebrate every stenographic testing achievement and lessons learned.

What’s really ironic is at the time I created and launched this page on March 6, 2020, I had no idea that NCRA had a Celebrate Certification Month. When I realized May was Celebrate Certification Month and May 1 was the first day of online testing, I thought I have to do something big to celebrate the month with this group. We have to get some great, well-respected, certified leaders to come and encourage the members of this group during this month.

NCRA President Max Curry, RPR, CRI

The first thought I had was, who is better than the president of NCRA, along with the leadership team, to encourage Stenographers Leveling up with Certifications members about obtaining certifications. I was very excited and honored to have President Max Curry, RPR, CRI; President-Elect Christine Phipps, RPR; Vice-President Debbie Dibble, RDR, CRR, CRC; and Immediate-Past President Sue Terry, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, join our Celebrate Certification Month Zoom events during the month of May. They all provided great advice. They were all down-to-earth and realistic.

Kim Xavier, RDR, CRR, CRC, CMRS, CRI, a highly experienced court reporter who has obtained many NCRA certifications, was also one of our speakers for our Zoom event. She gave great test-taking advice, and she has also contributed to our group by giving encouraging words to our members.

Another reason that I created the group is because I have always been concerned about the disparity with stenographers of color not having court reporting certifications and realtime certifications. I also recognized that some freelance reporters had more of a hustler mentality, and some officials had more of a complacent mentality or are more comfortable with the status quo, me included. I have also been concerned about not seeing reporters of color participating/represented in Speed and Realtime contests.

JCR | What is your personal certification story?

MR | The certificate that I am most proud of is my Bachelor of Science degree in court reporting from Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island, which I earned in 2000. I have also obtained the RPR and the CRI, which are NCRA certifications, and I also earned NCRA’s Realtime Systems Administrator. I am geared up now and hoping to pass the RMR and CRC between now, 2020, and 2021.

JCR | Are you welcoming new members to the group?

MR | The group is always open to new members, members who would like to learn more about obtaining certifications, receive alerts about when online test registration opens and closes, and helpful tips about taking tests online. We also focus on writing cleaner to pass the CRC and CRR tests, writing “Real Realtime” as Anissa Nierenberger, RPR, CRR, CRC, CRI, says. Anissa is one of the top contributors to our page. She’s phenomenal. She’s very quick to answer questions that are posed by members of the group. I truly appreciate her and everyone else that contributes to the page to help others.

We also welcome contributors, coaches, and highly decorated, experienced certificate holders to help, train, and encourage those of us who are working toward earning certs. On our page, we have a mentorship program where experienced reporters with certifications are matched up with reporters who want or need help to level up.

Margary Rogers, RPR, CRI, is an official court reporter in Washington, D.C.

Get your certification celebration on

This week kicks off NCRA’s third Celebrate Certification Month, launched to help encourage members to share with customers, clients, and potential clients the importance of working with professionals who hold national certifications.

The campaign is also designed to encourage NCRA members and nonmembers to earn a certification or to add to any they already hold. In addition to showing proficiency in various skills, numerous NCRA membership surveys have found that court reporters, captioners, and legal videographers who hold NCRA certifications make more money and are often in higher demand than their competitors. 

Richael Silva, RMR, CRR

“Earning my RMR has been the highlight of my career. Practicing at speeds that felt out of reach helped boost my confidence both at work and while taking that final test,” said Richael Silva, RMR, CRR, a court reporter from Arvada, Colo., who works for Hansen & Company Litigation Services.

“I am extremely proud and excited to have earned this honor. Being a member of NCRA has pushed me and inspired me to do my best and helped me to work towards the next level of my career. With the support of NCRA and its members, I’m proud to say I am part of a community that works together to build each other up and to always encourage one another to be better,” added Silva, who has worked as a court reporter for 15 years.

To help members celebrate, NCRA has launched an official Celebrate Certification Month resource page that offers an array of downloadable resources members can use. The resources range from press release templates to flyers to customized certification business cards and more.

In addition, NCRA members can also celebrate their pride in their certifications and save 15 percent on all customized items on May 7 and 8 in the NCRA Merchandise Store. Choose from a variety of items such as clothing, accessories, gifts, and more; and customize them with your favorite NCRA, NCRF, I Love Steno, NCRA STRONG, or official certification logos.

Make plans to celebrate yourself and your peers during the 2020 Celebrate Certification Month. For more information, visit 2020 Celebrate Certification Month, and don’t forget to share how you plan to celebrate with NCRA’s PR staff at pr@ncra.org.