When we think of court reporters, most of us think of someone typing on a strange-looking machine, in the front of a courtroom. But a degree or certificate in court reporting, and “machine shorthand expertise,” opens up an exciting and surprisingly varied selection of career choices – working in a courtroom is just one of them.
Methods Of Court Reporting
Stenographic reporting is the most common method of court reporting, and the one we are most familiar with. Court reporters use a stenotype machine that looks like a small typewriter and has only 22 keys. The stenotype machine allows reporters to press one or more keys simultaneously to produce symbols that represent sounds, words, or phrases. The symbols are electronically translated and displayed as text in a process called Computer-Aided Transcription (CAT). When the stenotype machine is linked to computers, CAT makes real-time captioning possible.
Electronic reporting is when the court reporter uses audio equipment (analog or digital) to record what is said, while carefully monitoring the proceedings. The reporter takes detailed notes to identify speakers, and describe gestures of all parties involved. The court reporter also checks for clarity of the report. After the proceeding has ended, the reporter prepares a detailed transcript.
Voice writing is when the court reporter speaks directly into a specialized microphone called a Voice Silencer or Stenomask. The stenomask is usually handheld, and covers the court reporter’s mouth so his or her voice can’t be heard. The reporter repeats everything that is said, as well as describing gestures and emotional reactions of the judge, witnesses, lawyers, and jury. Depending on the tenomask capabilities, the reporter’s voice is either recorded for later transcription, or is digitally translated into text by a computer speech-recognition process which then produces real-time streaming text. This text can appear on a monitor, television, or computer in the courtroom. When used at sports or breaking news events, this process is used to stream text on televisions nationwide or around the world. However, limitations in voice recognition software sometimes make voice writing problematic. The technique is not allowed in courtrooms in some states (Visit the National Verbatim Reporters Association website for more information.