Introducing the "Power Reporter" series, a website filled with creative tools for the advancing reporter.
It all started back in 2010, when I was working at the Boulder County Courthouse. Providing realtime in the courtroom had been a part of everyday life, but services beyond that for attorneys and their clients were limited.
In speaking with the managing reporter, she agreed to let me offer daily rough drafts to the attorneys as long as
I was either willing to report any trial by myself in its entirety or get another reporter to agree not only to share the trial with me but also agree to provide the rough drafts.
Enter "Allison," a fellow reporting colleague who was game to share some trials with me and provide any daily rough drafts that might be requested if I offered them to the attorneys.
In one particular heavy-hitting civil trial, where we had been providing the rough drafts every evening for a couple of weeks, I was greeted one morning in the courtroom before the proceedings by a paralegal. "I want to thank you," she said, "for all of your hard work in providing these rough drafts to us each evening." She went on to express her gratitude, commenting, "In the group of freelancers that we routinely hire, we just don't have power reporters like you and Allison."
Wow! As shocked as I was to hear that, it was an incredible shot in the arm at the time. Official court reporters have limited resources to be able to provide the myriad of services that freelancers are able to provide. In light of that fact alone, this praise was received humbly on the part of both of us as a testament to our dedication to better ourselves, our profession, and to provide a powerful service for the litigation community that we serve each and every day.
That phrase rang in my head for quite some time, "Power Reporter." Although it made me laugh a little, it was somehow very liberating for me. It also gave me pause: What exactly might be that true definition of a Power Reporter?
Fast-foward a few months, when I began to work on attaining five higher national certifications past the RPR I had had for two decades: my Merit (260 wpm and a prerequisite for the Diplomate certification), my RDR (the Registered Diplomate Reporter, distinguishing high-level, seasoned reporters as members of our profession's elite), my CRR (our national association's Certified Realtime Reporter certification), and my CBC and CCP (the broadcast captioning and CART captioning certifications requiring separate testing at the time but now combined as the CRC).
It was quite a daunting task but one I took on eagerly. As I started down this road of certification madness, the phrase "Power Reporter" was still with me, carrying me somehow on this journey into becoming the reporter I'd always wanted to be, armed and equipped for virtually anything that might be thrown at me in this world of verbatim reporting, and starting with the certifications showing I was worthy of doing so.
I got the idea to create a "visionary mug," one that had all of those letters after my name that I was working so hard for. Here is what I came up with:
Taking the female symbol for "power," I cleverly replaced the fingers in the image with steno keys, added the esteemed words of the courtroom paralegal to the top of the mug, and my full name with all of those marvelous letters after it that I did not yet have. I uploaded my new image to Costco, ordered a mug, and a week later, voilà, my very own self-created "visionary mug."
At first, I set it up on this shelf in the corner so that it was visible to me and to me only from where I sat at my desk. Eventually, I dared to put it down on the corner of my desk, hoping that I wouldn't be chastised by anyone who might walk in the room and see it and exclaim, "How dare you! You're not an RDR! You're not even an RMR! And you're not a CRR either!" (I wasn't worried about the other two cert acronyms, as not many court reporters in the judicial world even knew what those were back then!)
I eventually started drinking from this mug until, as I practiced and practiced and studied and studied, those letters *became* who I was. Over the next year and a half, I sat for each one of those tests (skills and written knowledge tests) and systematically passed every single one of them. I am told that it now puts me in the top less than one-half percent of my profession with regard to holding all of those certifications.
A few years ago, I was at a seminar for a Computer-Aided Transcription software ("CAT" software) users group. I sat down with the tech and my list of issues with the software: features that didn't work correctly and features that didn't exist. After more than a half hour of sitting with the tech at my side and my going through my list in front of the computer screen and the software program, he finally said to me, "We just don't have power users like you."
That word again.
A great number of my strongest fellow court reporting colleagues, most of whom compete in the National Court Reporter Association's Realtime Contest and Speed Contest, have created and/or belong to elite private Facebook groups. I can't tell you how having daily contact with these wizards of the profession has greatly increased my knowledge and application of features way beyond those that I presented to that CAT software tech just a few short years ago! I have since moved on to a more powerful CAT software program, allowing me to provide realtime in technical international settings where multiple languages are being spoken and increasing my skills and abilities in my routine daily realtime work as well.
It is with the help of my fellow "Power Reporters" and their fascinating methods that have been developing over time and their expressing of these in these Facebook groups as well as in seminars they speak at nationwide that I got the ultimate idea to create a place to categorize some of these concepts in blogs, with the ability for anyone to place comments below. In this way, it is my hope that we can have a more static environment for some of the greatest of the great ideas in court reporting to assist in the advancement of many -- organizational hashtag references and all.
Thank you for visiting, and I hope you find some value in what you read here! Power on, my fellow reporters!