That question recently set the court reporting industry on its heels. Stenographers and voice writers across the country couldn’t help but wonder how this question could possibly have been posed on national television. Certainly the comments comparing the stenographic machine to a cash register must have been an attempt at humor; however, that statement simply resulted in waves of shock through the legal community.
A little education goes a long way and within minutes, the court reporting and captioning industry began to answer the question. Here are just a few responses to why we still have a stenographer on the Senate floor:
- Stenographers are put through intense training and skill testing to take verbatim speech.
- Stenographers have a fierce commitment for the accuracy and preservation of the spoken word.
- Stenographers provide instant read back of testimony.
- Stenographers transcribe the proceedings for preservation in history.
- Stenographers are trustworthy officials of the record with the highest integrity.
- Stenographers use state-of-the-art technology.
So, the next question looms: Why don’t we just digitally record legal proceedings?
- Recording off-the-record conversations can be extremely problematic.
- Recording proceedings still requires transcription. Recordings sent to outside vendors result in inaudible or indiscernible portions that can render a transcript useless.
- Outside white noise can cancel out crucial testimony.
- Voice-to-text translation can be misrepresented from the spoken word to the printed word. Imagine the spoken words “below-knee pain” and having voice-to-text translate those words to “baloney pain.” While that can make for a humorous meme, it certainly is no joke for the individual fighting a lawsuit with life-changing implications.
Technology is making great strides in many industries and the legal community is no different. The key is to use the technology to its advantage but not to its detriment. To ensure integrity of the record, there are aspects of technology that the human factor must interface.
The Senate floor is one place where stenographers are crucial, but there are so many more. Did you know:
- Stenographers provide closed captioning for the hearing impaired.
- Stenographers provide live feed that scrolls on the jumbotron at sporting events.
- Stenographers provide court reporting services for hearings, business meetings, contract negotiations, depositions, trial proceedings, and so much more.
The court reporting industry was taken aback by the mere question: “Why do we still have court reporters on the Senate floor,” and it didn’t take long for the professionals in the industry to step up and educate. From the sophistication of the stenographic machine to the highly skilled stenographer, the court reporting industry is honored to be able to inform and advocate for the skill that is an integral part of preserving the record.
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