TRAIN realtime roadblocks: Realtime technology and startup costs

For some reporters, the startup costs of realtime can be worrisome. But starting up doesn’t have to cost a lot, say those who are already realtiming. Start with what you have, they suggest, and add on as money becomes available.

It’s not necessary to run out and buy two new iPads when you decide you want to start providing your realtime feed to others. Everyone has an old computer with Windows on it. And just like that, you, too, have a computer you can use to sell your realtime feed. There is a huge benefit to using your own equipment (although it does cost more money). I find it easier just to have my own iPads at the ready. They are all set up to my specific realtime configuration (WiFi using a LAN). All I have to do is press “connect,” and I’m ready to go! Fewer things to worry about and more time to focus on perfecting my realtime feed.

Lisa Knight, RDR, CRR

Realtime Systems Administrator

TRAIN Subcommittee co-chair

Littleton, Colo.


We hear it all the time: Realtime is expensive. Sure it can be, but it doesn’t have to be! When getting started, do your homework and don’t go out and buy whatever you read is popular on Facebook. Start with an old/unused computer or tablet you have laying around the house, and check out the Realtime resource guide for a list of free realtime-viewing software you can use. Before you know it, you have a free realtime set up! Once you’re ready for more bells and whistles, start building your realtime collection slowly. After your first realtime job, you will have an idea of what baseline equipment you need, and then you can start building and personalizing it from there. Will you need a router, or do you want to use StenoCast or stream it through the cloud? Do you want to use a free version of a realtime viewing software or purchase a license or lease? How many viewing devices will you need? These questions can be answered on a budget, so start with small and free, and work your way to investing wisely. Getting started is the key ingredient to shopping on a budget.

– Merilee Johnson, RMR, CRR, CRC

Realtime Systems Administrator

TRAIN Subcommittee co-chair

Eden Prairie, Minn.


There is a reason realtime is expensive. We provide a skill that very few have. Our steno machines are expensive, our amazing software is expensive, and tablet s expensive. However, old equipment works just as well as new equipment. It doesn’t take much to start your realtime journey if you have an idea of where to begin. You don’t need the top-of-the-line equipment when you start. All you need is a laptop, a steno machine, a router or WiFi capability, realtime software, and either another laptop or tablet for streaming the realtime. You can find first-generation iPads that are cheaper, and you don’t need to start off with a Luminex. After working hard and getting thrown right into the water, I am now so confident doing realtime that I went out and bought five iPad minis of my own. Once you start, you won’t be able to stop. The momentum is a wonderful thing that will bring you exponential growth if you harness your skill the right way.

It is very important to know what you are investing in and shop around and get as much information as you can before making any purchases. Make sure the keyboard on the laptop makes editing easy for you. I once had to return a laptop because the page up, page down, home, and end keys were shared with the left, right, up, and down arrow keys, and I just could not edit like that. Overall, I think the startup costs are worth it, and if you implement training and teach yourself not to be afraid, you are bound to succeed and exceed your expectations.

– Sharon Lengel, RPR, CRR

TRAIN Subcommittee member

Woodmere, N.Y.


First, go with the attitude that you are going to do what it takes to make your investment back. Have a plan to market yourself to your firm, your clients, and other firms.

If you’re on a shoestring budget, work with your CAT vendor to see their options and costs. Again, talk to other realtime reporters to find out their solutions and costs, with the plethora of realtime options out there. There are Internet-streaming methods that are available for providing realtime where you may not even need tablets or throwdowns.

In addition to talking to other reporters, attend seminars. Join Facebook groups — like the TRAIN group — or other listservs, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. So what if you sound like a newbie? Everyone was a newbie. That’s why you’re asking: to gain from their experience.

But keep in mind as you cost-cut your way into the beginning of realtime that success means that you’ll ultimately have to spend what it takes to achieve mastery of the best options available for your realtime clients.

Jason Meadors, RPR, CRR, CRC

TRAIN Subcommittee member

Fort Collins, Colo.



LAST PAGE: She who laughs, lasts

Where do you get your tech help?
Q. I think that text messages can be printed in some way. Perhaps Mr. Doe could provide me with a copy of that when he —
MR. DOE: Finds out how to?
MS. BROWN: — finds a 15-year-old who knows how to do that.
Elsa Jorgensen
Birmingham, Mich.

Do the math
Q. So a bilateral ankle sprain? Does that sound accurate?
A. Yeah. One was worse than the other, so I had to wear a boot on one.
Q. And you received some medical treatment?
A. Um-hum.
Q. And did you miss work?
A. Just to go to the doctor appointment, I think
Q. Did it resolve?
A. Yes.
Q. Was it the same ankle that you had sprained at HealthOne?
A. Well, since it was both, yeah, one of them was.
Q. Dumb question, smart answer. Thank you for that.
Carrie Arnold, RPR, CRR
Arvada, Calif.

Good or bad? You decide
Q. Would you agree that the grandmother or mother’s observation or conclusion that he was having too many or constant erections would be unrelated to the circumcision?
A. I don’t see how that’s a problem, but —
MR. SMITH: That wins best testimony of the month.
Q. Whether it’s a harm or a benefit, it’s probably unrelated to the circumcision, would you agree?
A. I suppose.
Virginia Dodge, RDR, CRR
Boston, Mass.

That narrows it down
Q. Mr. Witness, you didn’t answer the question.
A. Well, you didn’t ask it right then.
Q. Do you think it was greater than five years?
A. I think it was after — or it was either after or before I left work, so it was sometime either before or after 1994.
Liebe Stevenson, RMR
Liberty, Mo.

Throw the book

This was a question on cross-examination:
Q. Counsel asked you about, you know, employee handbooks and things of that nature, and I know that we were all excited to hear you say that you threw yours away. Other than the handbook, you do receive training, though; correct?
Kelly G. Palazzi, RPR
South Hackensack, N.J.

Arbitrators gone wild

From an arbitrator panel of 3:

MR. STARR: You do know you need to treat us with great deference and laugh at our jokes?
Q. I know the panel kind of brought it up, and so I wanted to clarify that.
MR. STARR: That was tongue in cheek, guys. I discerned he had done this before.
MR. ROGERS: My sarcasm meter is off. I’m sorry. I apologize.
MR. STARR: That’s okay, because we like naive defense counsel. Just kidding.
MR. DODDS: If you haven’t figured it out by now, he has a truly warped sense of humor.
MR. STARR: Only exceeded by naive plaintiff’s counsel.
Denyce M. Sanders, RDR, CRR
Houston, Texas

Division of nonlabor
Q. Do you own any like recreational vehicles, like ATVs?
A. No, I don’t.
Q. Do you own any horses?
A. No, I don’t.
MR. LEWIS: Didn’t you just buy an RV?
MR. LEWIS: Didn’t you just buy an RV?
A. Yeah, I just bought an RV.
Q. An RV like a motor home?
A. Yes.
Q. What is your plan? Are you going to travel?
A. Yes.
Q. Does your wife still work?
A. No, she does not.
Q. So she can go with you?
A. Yes. No, I’m leaving her at home to take care of the dog.
Terri Huseth, RPR
Shawnee, Kan.

The powers bestowed upon me

Q. And I think you understood what I was saying. In ordinary street conversation that’s okay. This lady here that’s the court reporter, Stephanie, will be slapping one of us if we talk over each other and we are not allowing each other to finish statements, okay?
A. (Nodded.)
Q. It’s not really true but she actually nowadays has gone to a more modern situation. She’s got an electric switch —
A. There you go.
Q. — that will light your chair up.
Stephanie Ruhland, RMR, CRC
Oldfield, Mo.

A gentleman never tells

Q. After you got out of the Navy in November of 1957 — strike that.
When you were in the Navy, you were stationed in Korea and Japan; is that correct?
A. I was just aboard ship, and we was at a little bit of everywhere.
Q. Okay. Did you ever see combat?
A. No.
Q. Okay. Any particular port of call you enjoyed more than others?
MR. ABBOTT: Now, I want to object.
MR. COSTELLO: Well, I want to have a conversation with him.
MR. ABBOTT: Having been in the Navy we don’t need to get into that.
MR. COSTELLO: All right; fair enough.
MR. ABBOTT: Sitting in front of his wife — you don’t need to —
MR. COSTELLO: I’ll even strike it. I — I —
MR. ABBOTT: Thank you.
MR. COSTELLO: — strike that question.
Cassy Kerr Russell
Austin, Texas

Who’s that guy?
Q. Do you remember who the attorney was that was asking the questions?
A. Jared.
Q. Jared from Subway?
A. It seemed like that, yeah. It’s about similar to that.
Michelle Giangualano
Seattle, Wash.

Q. Is the list on page 12 an exhaustive list of your administrative responsibilities?
A. It’s pretty exhausting.
Q. Did you mean exhaustive?
A. I mean exhaustive.

Katherine Schilling
Richmond, Va.

Name your sources
MR. SMITH: Okay. While we may not always like what Mr. Jones and I say, I’m glad you appreciate our honesty. As George Costanza said, it’s not a lie if you believe it.
THE ARBITRATOR: I am pleased that you have cited a noted legal authority. Please continue.
Laurie Collins, RPR
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Dead presidents

THE COURT: What’s your objection?
THE DEFENDANT: George Washington told me to do it.
THE COURT: Your objection is noted for the record and overruled.
Danielle R. Murray, RPR
Olathe, Kan.


Q. And Dr. Jones said in his notes that you — it’s a he? Dr. Jones is a he?
A. I believe he was.
Q. And if he was, he still is?
A. Yes. Sorry.
Q. Okay. Never can tell.
MR. SMITH: Never know nowadays.
MR. JOHNSON: But it was only a belief at the time, then.
Dominique Isabeau
Daly City, Calif.


MR. SMITH: Well, because she differs with your recollection of what she testified to some months before doesn’t mean her answers are any more incredible than your questions.
MR. JONES: Thank you for saying they are incredible. I will take that as a compliment.
Adam H. Alweis, RPR
Syracuse, N.Y.

FROM COMMITTEE: The two-sided nominating coin

The 2015-2016 NCRA Nominating Committee

The 2015-2016 NCRA Nominating Committee

By Jason Meadors

After 30-some years of involvement in various association arenas, from city boards to reporting associations at the state, user group, and national level, I was granted the opportunity in this term to serve on NCRA’s Nominating Committee.

It stands out as one of most rewarding experience in my association career. But let’s keep in mind that the term rewarding can also encompass pain in the process, and not just one’s own pain.

The normal array of nominees for NCRA is for three directors, a term of Secretary-Treasurer (either a new or renewal term), Vice President, and President-Elect. As far as those positions go, this slate comprised a normal year. But in terms candidates’ quality, I can’t help but think it was an outlier, and in the best way possible: Every single nominee was top-notch.

This article won’t go into specific candidates’ names. The committee’s nominations have already been published (at and stand on their own. What we’ll do is look at the process and the experience itself, from both sides of the questionnaire.

Imagine sitting in your office and then a loud “thud” startles you as a 10-pound three-ring binder hits the desk. Welcome to the Nominating Committee service. Out of 22 tabs in our committee notebook, a few were organizational things like schedules and background documents (such as the bylaws and the Vision 2018 statement). But most of the tabs were compilations for each candidate. Candidates submitted their nomination documents, résumés, completed questionnaires, and other related information such as referral letters. It was our task to go through these hundreds of pages and wring out some valid analysis.

What does one do when one faces a crowd of outstanding colleagues, with a staggering level of involvement and insight, and has to choose a limited number from those ranks? One goes to the organization’s mission, current-day realities, long-range vision, and the dreaded interview process. And not just of the candidates. We talked to our NCRA President Steve Zinone, RPR; President-Elect Tiva Wood, RDR, CMRS; and Executive Director Mike Nelson, CAE. All of these people were invaluable for their perspectives of board dynamics, the vitality of NCRA, and strategies to strengthen our association.

There are a lot of presumptions, not to mention misconceptions, about the nomination process, and a lot of it has to do with a perceived balance of interests. We were hit many times with the sentiment that we were looking for a certain ratio of freelance principals, freelance reporters, officials, broadcast and CART captioners, educators, females/males, aged/youth, voices of experience/fresh perspectives, regional distributions, state/national involvement, and so on. In a way, I wish we were that smart, to take all those discrete factors that exist within the ongoing board members, factor in those of the new potential members, run the algorithms to get us a blending, and come up with a slate of nominees that would result in a full and balanced diverse spectrum of colleagues to sit as board members.

But we didn’t. Résumés and involvement counted, but they didn’t count for everything. Referral letters counted, but not for everything. Reputation and profile within the industry, reporting talent and accomplishments, native intelligence, business acumen, colleagues’ respect, social grace, political dexterity, and so many other things all counted, but not for everything. We simply looked to the qualities of the candidates we had. And oh, my, what quality we had.

After having a couple weeks to pore over the nomination materials, we started in on interviews. It is no exaggeration to say that after just the very first two, we were already intimidated, if not somewhat depressed. Not because we were hoping for better but because we’d already been hit with such wonderfully talented and eloquent candidates, and we still had all the others to go through. But go through them we did, in a pretty arduous process of being cloistered with each other over a period of several days, from early morning into the evening.

Some of us compared the process, and fairly so, to jury deliberations. Unlike a jury, though, we’re sitting in evaluation of our colleagues. This made our process tougher in a very special way.

In 35 years of association involvement, I’ve come to know a few people. So at the beginning of many interviews, my disclaimer – “You and I are friends, we’ve worked together, played together, presented together, and none of that matters here. I am not your advocate on this committee.” – undoubtedly got quite old for my fellow committee members hearing it repeatedly. But I felt it was necessary, and I said it a lot. And still, when all is said and done, all that high-toned language conflicts with reality the next time that you talk to friends and colleagues who were not selected, and they can’t but help but wonder where the friendship lay during the process.

And like a jury, the committee can second-guess itself forever as to whether the right questions were asked, the correct evaluations rendered, and the right decisions made. We were presented with a wonderful dilemma. We had a limited number of spots to fill, with an abundance of impressive people vying for them, all capable on their own of filling the roles. There were just too many high-quality candidates, which is a great problem for an association to have, but that situation provides its own measure of analysis agony for the committee members.

And that angst on the part of the committee pales in comparison to the pain of the nominees who were not selected, regardless of their qualifications and sincerity, and even including any interview processes in the past that likewise didn’t succeed and add to the anguish.

There’s no question: A role on the NCRA board as director or officer is a heady and self-affirming (if financially burdensome) thing. You’ve gotten the respect of your peers. You’re being looked up to and sought out for your industry information, far-reaching vision, and leadership talents. Your visibility within our industry is ramped up. All your efforts and sacrifices encompassed in your involvement in your local, user group, or national association are hugely validated by your nomination to the NCRA board.

And then the harsh downside. If you’re not selected, it goes the other way: The sense of rejection, the lack of validation, the feeling that you came up short and you can’t even say to yourself if it was through fair or unfair means in that jury-like committee process.

I’ve been through the nomination process before, both successfully and not. I know all too well how glorious it is to be successful. I know how defeating it is to feel you’ve fallen short. I wish there were some way to ease that latter feeling. Very simply, we would have been comfortable with every reporter whom we interviewed having a place at the board table. Also very simply, we couldn’t do that. Receiving that “sorry” call is not a reflection of any lack of quality of the nominee; rather, it’s a reflection of the high quality of every reporter we talked to and an unfortunate consequence of having so many wonderful colleagues from whom we had to choose.

But past the pain of that process for all involved, there was overriding and unquestioned reward out of this year’s Nominating Committee involvement. Unequivocally, yes, our process was studiously fair, devoid of background political or personal considerations, and devoted solely to selection of people, from a pool suffused with high talent, who could best serve NCRA at the board level. Our debate and deliberations were respectful, friendly, incisive, and analytic. They stretched long into the evenings. Our conclusions were reached after thorough consideration.

Thank you to NCRA for its support in this process, to Immediate Past President Sarah Nageotte for her committee leadership, and to President Steve Zinone for his committee appointments and the opportunity to engage in a fantastic, tough, but rewarding process. There is now a group of five colleagues who did not know each other all that well before that weekend in early March and who will now remain close friends for years to come.

And what a delightful thing that is. 

Jason Meadors, RPR, CRR, CRC, is a freelance reporter in Fort Collins, Colo., and an occasional contributor to the JCR. He also has fiction titles published for Kindle through Amazon.

REPORTING: Self-care for court reporters: Finding balance between the mind, body, and spirit

By Megan Rogers

A buzzword that has been floating around recently is self-care, which comes down to meeting baseline needs. The recent American Copy Editors Society conference included a session on self-care for editors, and many of the points can apply to court reporters and captioners as well. These are all professions, after all, with people who spend lots of hours in a day sitting and focusing on a specific task.

Janet Gillett, PsyD, led the session. Gillett is a freelance editor with a background in psychology, and the session concentrated on finding a balance between the mind, body, and spirit. While each area has unique attributes, there is a lot of interplay between how they work together.


Like editing, court reporting and captioning can be cerebral activities, especially proofreading and scoping. These activities take a lot of focus, but spending too much time in mind mode can be problematic. There are a variety of clear warning signs that it’s time to focus on other areas:

  • eyes start to burn
  • being grumpy
  • boredom
  • headache
  • feeling tired
  • worrying

Gillett pointed out that the mind is good at talking itself out of something, like taking a break, but dedicating too much time to the mind can lead to a variety of results, which range from making people skills suffer to burnout. Gillett suggested taking some time to think about how you notice that you are in mind mode or have spent too much time in mind mode.


The next area that Gillett focused on was the body, the physical entity that we inhabit. She pointed out that the body is often invisible until something goes wrong. It’s easy to ignore what the body needs in favor of something else — how often have you told yourself you’d go to the bathroom after proofing just a few more pages? There’s also a lot of misunderstanding about the body: While nutrition and exercise are important, they aren’t the only parts of the body that need attention. Areas of the body that need attention are:

  • sleep: get enough to be rested the next day
  • movement: sitting still for too long can be harmful
  • posture: prevent unnecessary stress throughout the body
  • food: fuel to keep the body working

To find balance with the body, it’s important to embrace the body. This comes down to first being aware of what the body needs, listening carefully enough to notice the moment the body needs something, and understanding why the body feels a certain way. With practice, all of these steps can begin to happen simultaneously to be truly grounded in the body. Gillett suggested thinking about ways that you can pay attention to the body. This can be as simple as taking the time to close your eyes, sit quietly for a few moments, and listen to the body. Consider whether anything hurts or aches, whether your stomach is growling, or if you have had enough water.


Third, Gillett talked about finding balance in the spirit. Love, energy, inspiration, excitement, and passion are all linked to the spirit, as is feeling connected to something greater. There are several ways to access the spirit:

  • play
  • laughter and smiling
  • meditation or prayer
  • concentrated breathing

Gillett mentioned that the new trend of adult coloring books is an example of a good way to get in touch with the spirit; coloring a beautiful or meditative picture for a while can be calming and playful. Another way to connect with the spirit is to (re)awaken a new or existing passion, which could be related to an occupation (Gillett’s example for editors was a common passion for words and reading) or could be a hobby or other interest. Gillett suggested thinking of ways in which you can reconnect with your spirit.

Finding balance

These three areas — mind, body, and spirit — are all connected and overlap with each other. Gillett suggested thinking about how much time you spend in your mind, body, and spirit, perhaps creating a pie chart. Ideally, all three should be more or less in balance. I found, however, that I tend to spend the most time in my mind (I approximated about half), another third or so tending to my spirit (through hobbies or taking the time to recharge each day), and the rest of my time to my body (clearly not enough).

Some activities, however, can fulfill the needs of more than one area at a time. For example, going for a walk is good exercise for the body, but spending the time in nature is also good for the spirit. Spending too much time in the mind can negatively affect people skills, but playing a strategic game with someone else is a good way to feed both the mind and the spirit.

Finding balance can be challenging, but making sure the trio of mind, body, and spirit all are getting the attention they need is a good start.

Megan Rogers is NCRA’s Communications Assurance Specialist. She can be reached at

Get the edge by attending NCRA’s CRR Boot Camp

CRR Boot Camp_resizedProfessionals considering taking the Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR) test have the opportunity to gain an advantage by attending the CRR Boot Camp being offered for the first time at the NCRA Convention & Expo being held at the Chicago Hilton in Chicago, Ill., Aug. 4-7.

NCRA’s CRR certification represents realtime pro­ficiency for those who earn it as it is recognized in the industry as the national certification of real­time competency. Holding the CRR also can lead to an increase in salary, as noted by a number of recent NCRA surveys.

“As the CRR Chief Examiner in Massachu­setts, I saw so many candidates come back time and time again to take the certification test. It was bittersweet. They couldn’t pass, but they kept trying,” said Kathryn Sweeney, RMR, CRR, a freelance reporter and agency owner from Acton, Mass., who helped develop the boot camp pro­gram and will be teaching it at the NCRA Convention & Expo.

“The idea of the boot camp came about when the Board of the Massachusetts Court Reporters Association (MCRA) approached me with ques­tions as to why there were not more people pass­ing the CRR exam and what I could do to maybe help those candidates,” said Sweeney, who also served as a beta tester for NCRA’s online testing system and as CRR Chief Examiner on behalf of the Association for 17 years.

“They gave me two hours and a place to give a seminar back in October of 2009. It was originally named ‘Ready? Begin.’ Those are the two most dreaded words for even the most skilled court reporter,” Sweeney said.

Because it was felt that the original name of the program might actually scare people away, it was renamed the CRR Dress Rehearsal. Over the years, however, said Sweeney, the presentation turned into a three-hour session and was appro­priately renamed again to the CRR Boot Camp.

Word about the program has been spreading across states, according to Sweeney who most re­cently presented the session at the Georgia Court Reporters Convention. Other state court reporter associations have also been contacting her about presenting it at their meetings, leaving her very excited about having the opportunity to bring it to an ever wider audience.

“Word finally spread to NCRA, and I was of­fered a webinar, which I gave last August. After the success of that, I was invited to their annual convention this year,” said Sweeney.

Unlike NCRA’s newest certification, the Certi­fied Realtime Captioner (CRC), which requires participation in a 10-hour workshop before being able to take the test, the CRR Boot Camp is not a prerequisite for taking the CRR test. However, said Sweeney, it can certainly help with increasing the chances of passing on the first take.

In the course, she explains to attendees the testing requirements, covers NCRA’s What is an Error?, discusses what is not an error, and talks about the new online testing process. She also offers tips on working on self-preparation, includ­ing what to have on test day, what to do and not do on test day, and how and why candidates fail. Participants in the session are also asked to bring their equipment with them because Sweeney said she also lets them take a couple of practice tests, as well as manipulates the system settings and dictionary entries.

“There is so much material. Even if just one thing I teach resonates with an attendee, one thing that they can go back and fix or change, it may just be the one thing that pushes them over the hump and gets them that CRR desig­nation,” said Sweeney.

One reason she attributes the program’s success in helping CRR candidates be suc­cessful in passing the test is because much of the material she covers about being prepared includes information often missed, such has having flash drives or SD cards properly for­matted, which is included in the recommended reading on the testing website or contained in the pre-test emails they receive.

“The most frustrating part of being the proc­tor at brick-and-mortar testing sites was that I could not help the candidates. It was simply not allowed. They were supposed to just know all this stuff. Heck, candidates showed up without their driver’s license because they didn’t know they needed to show it to me,” she said.

“I strongly believe taking the CRR Boot Camp will increase the chance of passing this test. When I finished my presentation in Geor­gia, a woman who already had her CRR came up to me and said that she wished this seminar was around when she was preparing for the test; that it had all of the information and steps that she muddled through on her own. She said it took years of figuring out what was being asked of her and then changing her writing and learning her equipment and software in order to pass,” Sweeney said. “With this boot camp, I can help you in three hours.”

Perhaps the greatest benefit of taking the CCR Boot Camp is that attendees will know if they’re ready to take the test or not, while those who have taken the test before will realize why they didn’t pass, she noted.

“I am a huge proponent of not throwing money away. If you’re not quite ‘there’ yet, then don’t spend (the money) on this test. You will learn what you need to work on before you take the plunge and sign up for the test. You will know when you’re ready, instead of just winging it and hoping for the best,” Sweeney added. “The CRR really is the easiest test you’ll ever fail. But why fail at all? Learn what you need to do in order to pass. Come to my boot camp!”

Sweeney, who has been a court reporter for 25 years, is also past president of MCRA and served a total of eight years on its Board of Directors.

To earn the CRR certification, professionals are required to hold the Registered Profes­sional Reporter (RPR) certification, be a current member of NCRA, and pass a realtime testi­mony skills test at 200 words per minute with 96 percent accuracy.


For more information about or to register for NCRA’s CRR Boot Camp and the 2016 Convention & Expo, visit