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  • Julie McCurnin

Words Have Meaning

Words have meaning. This is why the human court reporter is superior to any electronic recording or voice-to-text system. The human reporter is live and understands the context of what is being said or can actually stop the proceedings to ask for clarification. The Certified Shorthand Reporter has been trained in different terminologies, can research new terminologies consistent with the subject matter, or can simply refer to the document being discussed at the time. A voice-to-text system just inserts words it thinks it heard, whether it is accurate or not. Having a live reporter becomes especially important in the case of a speaker who has a "heavy" or "thick" accent for this very reason.

Electronic recording has been a "threat" to the court reporting profession for decades. Though the technology has improved, the same simple problems still exist. For instance, simultaneous speaking. It is very difficult, if not impossible sometimes, to distinguish speakers in an audio recording when multiple parties are possibly excited or angry and speaking/yelling at the same time and/or at a rapid rate. Interruptions such as sirens, paper-shuffling, coughing, and sneezing will also be picked up on the recording, again, sometimes making it very difficult to hear or understand what was being said at the time. This can result in an incomplete transcript being produced with parentheticals such as (Inaudible) or (Simultaneous Speaking). Again, the live reporter is able to stop the proceedings and ask for the speaker to repeat their question/answer/objection/ruling. Important as well, live reporters can also instantaneously read back a pending question/answer/objection/ruling.

There are times when parties may request to go off the record to discuss a confidential issue. Will they remember to turn off the recording? Or will they even remember to turn the recording on in the first place when parties are busy getting ready to proceed and may be distracted? Also, possible recording malfunction may occur without the parties even realizing it, resulting in an incomplete transcript or no transcript at all, therefore, a huge waste of everyone's vital time and resources. The advent of digital reporters may solve the possible problem of turning on and off the recording equipment, but they still must send their audio out to be transcribed, oftentimes to companies overseas, and oftentimes at a much greater cost.

Yes, Certified Shorthand Reporters are human; they too can and will make mistakes. However, it is the human factor that has still proven to be the best and most efficient means of producing an accurate record of all those very important words.

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