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The Evolution of Modern Court Reporting

Court reporting has gone through some major...

4184367_blogCourt reporting has gone through some major changes in recent decades with new technologies. With all the changes, though, court reporters continue to function as a central part of not only the legal system, but also business, education and entertainment fields.

While some have wondered whether court reporting is a dying profession, the answer is definitely “no”. Court reporters continue to be in demand for depositions, hearings, and transcriptions of important business meetings. Career experts predict a steady demand for court reporters in the coming years, projected to grow about ten percent in the next decade.

Developments in real time reporting make stenography skills useful in captioning and translating events and movies for those with limited hearing. While some advances in technology seem to limit the need for court reporters, there is no substitute for human skill in accurately and quickly reporting critical events like court hearings or depositions.

Changes in the World of Court Reporting

The technological advances of the recent decades have not left the court reporting profession untouched. From beneficial uses of new devices like computers that interface with stenography machines and use computer programs to provide a translation of text in real time, to devices to allow hearing-challenged individuals to participate without the cost and imposition of an interpreter in American Sign Language, the court reporting profession has adapted many digital devices to move into the twenty-first century.

Changing Technology

While technology has allowed some improvements in the field of court reporting, other devices have led to replacement of human court reporters in some cases. Some courts have gone to audio and video recording devices as the exclusive record, eliminating live court reporters in courtroom trials and hearings. In other areas, transcription software has improved steadily as computer technology advances, allowing an individual with a microphone and computer program to get a rough transcript of spoken dialogue without the use of a court reporter taking down the written words.

Some experts have pointed to developments such as these as signs that the profession of court reporting may be dying, to be replaced by video cameras, microphones, and computer programs. Really, though, nothing could be further from the truth. The substantial limitations of machinery include:

  • No immediate playback with audio or video recording – the judge or attorney can never turn to the microphone and say “play back that statement, please” to review an objection or answer.
  • The machine is unable to ask witness to speak up or repeat an unclear statement – mumbled or quiet words may go unrecorded, and later reviewers or transcribers of the audio recording will have to guess at the meaning.
  • Computer program are not as sensitive to spoken words as the human ear – despite advances in technology, machines do not have the sensitivity to hear and understand spoken words and appreciate the range of vocabulary to get the words down correctly as well as a trained professional stenographer can.

So, while advances in technology will continue to interact with the field of court reporting and change some of the ways that the work is done, the fact remains that qualified court reporters are in demand. Stenographers who know how to record words and make an accurate written transcript of proceedings will continue to be needed in the world of business and law.

Real Time Reporting

With the growth of computer assisted reporting, some careers for trained court reporters have expanded. Real time reporting allows stenographers to take down the spoken words of a deposition, hearing, speech, or statement on a stenography machine, and connect to a computer that transcribes the code into English for immediate review. The judge or attorney is able to look quickly back over a statement or an answer to see if it is objectionable or complete without delay, making proceedings more efficient.

Real time reporting allows hearing-limited individuals to participate fully without the expense and intrusion of an American Sign Language interpreter on site. The stenographer takes down all the spoken words as they proceed, and the computer translates the shorthand into English for immediate review as needed. Able to provide accurate and immediate captioning for a movie or video, a stenographer can be crucial for hearing-limited people to fully participate in many events.

With technological advancements like these and other improvements, the need for court reporters and trained stenographers increases. While some may wonder if court reporting is a dying profession, the truth is that the career potential for trained and qualified court reporters is steady and expected to grow in the coming years. The field will change, as technologies advance, but the need will remain for trained stenographers to accurately record important events.






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