Courts fear effects of stenographer shortage

jcr-publications_high-resThe Daily Item, Sunbury, Pa., reported on Feb. 13 that Susquehanna Valley courtrooms are bucking a nationwide shortage of court reporters, which is expected to peak in 2018.

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NCRA member seeks district judge seat held by mom for 50-plus years

jcr-publications_high-resNCRA member Donna Bealing Elicker, RMR, a freelance court reporter from West Manheim Township, Pa., is running for the district-judge seat that her mother held for more than 50 years, according to an article posted by the York Dispatch on Feb. 2.

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Pittsburgh court reporter celebrates increase in business in 2016

jcr-publications_high-resConstance Lee, RPR, of Constance Lee & Company Court Reporters in Pittsburgh, Penn, announced in a press release issued Jan. 27 that her firm increased its total company production billing by 55 percent in 2016.

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Value of two-year degree highlighted by successful court reporter

jcr-publications_high-resA press release issued Nov. 14 highlights a recent interview by court reporter Constance Lee, RPR, of Constance Lee & Company about her success with a two-year degree. Lee is based in the Pittsburgh, Pa., area.

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How one NCRA member rocked a radio interview

JCRiconBy Donna Cascio, RDR, CMRS

Currently my husband and I live in a rural setting about 70 miles away from downtown Pittsburgh, but I lived in the city as a reporting student and have always felt a part of that scene. One of the morning rituals in our home is waking up at 6 a.m. to the Morning Show with Randy Baumann on WDVE (known locally as DVE), a rock radio station.

On Sundays we still get up early because we attend a 7:30 a.m. church service, so we let the radio come on as per usual. DVE airs different programming on Sundays, and one show is called Pittsburgh Sunday Morning, with Sean McDowell. It airs at 7a.m. and is a public affairs program, often highlighting local charity events, such as runs or walks benefiting various organizations. Sean invites listeners to contact him if there is an upcoming event to highlight, and he emphasizes that the topic does not need to be related to a charity.

Because the Pennsylvania Court Reporters Association and NCRA did such a good job urging all of us in the court reporting world to highlight our professions to the community preceding National Court Reporting & Captioning Week in February, I immediately thought, why not?

I emailed Sean on Feb. 2, and he responded two days later. The rest, as they say, is history. Mary Beth Johnson, CRI, professor of court reporting at Community College of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh, Pa., and Amy Bowlen, RDR, CRR, CRC, Imperial, Pa., former head of captioner training at VITAC, were totally on board when I asked them to participate, and we snapped up the opportunity Sean gave us – the date of May 18, at noon, to record the interview. Although that was past Court Reporting & Captioning Week, we were thrilled to be able to talk about the profession we love.

As a prelude to this interview, I gathered material that NCRA had available on its website regarding our profession, asked a few questions, and even reached out to NCRA Past President Nancy Varallo, RDR, CRR, Worcester, Mass., about the connection between reporting and music. I also had pertinent information from a recent interview I had done with a local newspaper.

I sifted through all of it and sent Sean some interesting facts and figures. He really did the rest! He was so thorough in covering the topics, and we reporters added comments throughout. Sean did a marvelous job hitting high points and seemed truly fascinated by what we do.

Because the folks at this radio station are “celebrities” to us, we had a great time meeting some of them after the interview and touring the studios. All in all, it was a great experience.

Read the transcript of the radio show.

I write the Stanley Cup every day

Photo by Connie Lee

Photo by Connie Lee

By Connie Lee

I love hockey. I especially love the Pittsburgh Penguins. They are my team. I have been providing in-stadium captioning for the Pittsburgh Penguins for five seasons now. Lucky me!

I had the distinct pleasure of writing game five of the 2016 Stanley Cup final. The Penguins were winning the series 3-1, and game five was going to be the night that Pittsburgh won a championship at home for the first time in 60 years. I was completely giddy to get to the arena from the time game four was in the books. I woke and dressed in my most professional version of black and gold that day. I had a short deposition in the morning before heading to the Consol Energy Center arena, strategically parking near the exit that would lead to the quickest way home. After all, 60,000 people, both inside and outside, were expected that night.

As I passed through the security gate and waved hello to my colleagues, just as I have done for the last five seasons, it dawned on me how very ordinary it was that day. The same aroma of pizza and hot sausage filled the air. A billion more TV people and trucks blocked my path, but everyone was calm.

When I arrived at media level, I expected pandemonium, people running from emergency to emergency. I expected high levels of anxiety. I got none of it. Until, that is, it was time for rehearsal. Routinely, everyone involved in game-night production meets in the director’s room, which is the size of about three large conference rooms. It’s about 30 people. When the game director, Billy Wareham, started to speak, I knew it was time to get serious. Billy is pretty jovial and cracks a lot of jokes. But when he started the meeting with, “I need to give you all some instructions,” I gulped.

What was so amazing to me was that Billy started his instructions by saying, “The people that are here in this room are here because I trust you. You are the best of the best.” That’s what made me realize, I write the Stanley Cup every day. Like the hockey players, I practice and hone my craft. I invest a minimum of 40 hours a week to my career. I don’t waste my time doing it half-way. Everything counts: every stroke, every interaction with my clients, every conversation with my support staff, every time I speak with the subcontractors – everything counts every day.

I get tired, sure, and sometimes I think of walking away, but what I do is important to more than just me. My team is counting on me: my family, my office manager, my scopists, my proofreader. More than anyone, the people who hire me and trust me with their work are counting on me.

When I write for the lawyers, I may not be the superstar on the ice, but I most equate myself with the equipment manager, making sure their skates are sharp, so that the litigators can go out and win. When I write for the Penguins, an entire fan base of people is counting on me to be their ears and to give them the full game-night experience. I pride myself on being the one both groups can rely on to do my absolute best every day.

My sweet Penguins did not win game five. It broke all of our hearts. The responses to the interviews after the game were not of the team giving up. They were of each player filled with resolve to get the job done, to come back next game and win the Stanley Cup in game 6. I’ll be there with them. Let’s go, Pens!

Connie Lee, RPR, is a freelance reporter in Baden, Pa.

Constance Lee & Company teams with Spark Digital Marketing

Virtual-Strategy Magazine posted a press release that Constance Lee & Company Court Reporting Service, Pittsburgh, Penn., and Spark Digital Marketing, an SEO and Web development firm based in Winston-Salem, N.C., have partnered to expand services in Pittsburgh. Constance Lee & Company provides court reporting services and is the closed captioning provider for the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team.

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PCRA to exhibit at school counselors conference

The Legal Intelligencer reported on Feb. 13 that the Pennsylvania Court Reporters Association is set to exhibit at the Pennsylvania School Counselors Association’s 60th annual conference Feb. 18 and 19 at the Hershey Lodge in Hershey in celebration of the 2016 Court Reporting and Captioning Week.

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Court reporters, captioners nationwide to celebrate profession

On Feb. 14, the Meadville Tribune, Meadville, Pa., posted a press release issued by NCRA announcing that Feb. 14-20 has been designated as the 2016 National Court Reporting & Captioning Week. The weeklong event is designed to celebrate the court reporting and captioning professions and to help raise public awareness about the growing number of employment opportunities the career offers.

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Clearfield County, Pa., court reporter shortage still unresolved

GANT News reported on Feb. 10 that Clearfield County, Pa., court officials continue to face the dilemma of having a shortage of court reporters. The shortage is blamed in part on low pay rates.

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