I have met some new reporters lately who seem to be having a hard time with punctuation.  When I write “new reporters,” I am talking about reporters who have been out in the field for five to ten years.  It seems to me with the consolidation of our industry, the commoditizing of our profession, some court reporting  firm owners are not demanding the perfection that is required in a transcript.

I saw a transcript this week where the court reporter didn’t know how to pluralize a name.  The sentence read, “The Smith’s are coming over for dinner.”  I could tell there was a lot of guessing on punctuation.

I am speculating a little, but it seems to me no one is proofing some new reporters’ work.  I have heard from some San Diego court reporters that their firm owner requires them to hire a proofer and get their work proofed.    I believe others are left to their own devices.  A newly licensed court reporter might think they can’t afford a proofer.

If there is one thing I know for sure, you don’t know what you don’t know until you know it.

Having a second set of eyes look at your work is imperative.  You may be making the same mistake over and over again without realizing what you are doing.  For instance, there is the famous “Norman Clature” example.  A court reporter didn’t know the word nomenclature, so all of a sudden a new person appeared in the transcript.  Another example is a “blue collar worker” became a “blue color worker.” 

At this stage in my career I use a scopist, not a proofer.  I do the final proof.  I am lucky enough to have a scopist who has a degree in biology and knows science/medical terminology. 

Remember your name is on every transcript you produce.  The fact is every new reporter needs someone to look at their transcripts.  There is no getting around it.  If the firm you work with won’t provide you with a proofer or someone to read over your final transcripts, you will have to find someone to do it for you.  Otherwise, you are going to have mistakes on your transcripts. 

Don’t let the economy, the apathy of the firm you work with, or a “whatever” attitude ever stop you from putting out excellent work.    It is your name I am concerned about as well as the future of our profession.


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3 replies
  1. Kim Neeson says:

    I would echo Rosalie’s sentiments. It is extremely important particularly for new reporters to use a dictionary and more importantly to ask questions of your fellow reporters! I remember one reporter who produced a transcript that referred to the “Parkay” floor instead of the parquet floor – no, the floor wasn’t made of “Parkay” margarine!

    No question is too silly or stupid – but a mistake like that on a transcript does not help build a new reporter’s reputation.

  2. Cristi says:

    I remember an attorney telling me about a transcript he once received with this error. When the answer should have been “Yes, Ma’am, it was transcribed as “Yes, Mabel” instead. I must say, a second set of eyes would have been a great investment!

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