Are Court Reporters Old Fashioned?



We are right in the middle of the digital age, and just about everything is in the process of being digitized. The world looks markedly different today than it was ten years ago, with wireless charging systems, self-driving cars, and fold-able smartphones replacing their preceding technologies almost entirely. Court reporters stick out like a sore thumb in the middle of all these advancements, especially in computing. For one, they still take notes using ancient stenographs. Moreover, most of them edit the resulting transcripts manually, disregarding the voice recording and editing software available today. To a layperson, stenographic court reporters may seem old-fashioned and unnecessary in modern times. But is this the case?


Why Court Reporters are Necessary

Court reporters undergo a lot of training to get certified. As such, they are in a much better position to deduce different dialects, accents, and word pronunciations. However, even the best software and computers would have difficulty transcribing most accents accurately. Further, reporters do not need additional equipment other than their stenographs (and maybe printers) to do their work. In contrast, computers and transcription software are not yet developed to the point where they can provide accurate transcripts independently. Therefore, any transcript they generate has to be proofread and edited by seasoned reporters before it can be certified. It is not a surprise, therefore, that most courts and attorneys choose to save their money and go with actual stenographers.


Court Reporting in the Era of Digital Technology

Traditionally, court reporters only had their stenographs at hand and had to transcribe and edit their transcripts, which was time-consuming manually. However, the advent of advanced computers and voice recording software, coupled with increasingly impatient clients, has occasioned a change of tact in the industry. Now, most reporters use computers in the course of their jobs. Reporters can convert their shorthand notes into legible transcripts in real time using computers, tablets, and even smartphones. Instantaneous transcription means courts and clients can receive accurate and legible transcripts within a few minutes.


Another benefit of integrating computers in court reporting is that it allows real-time captions of court proceedings to be relayed to the media. This is especially important in public-interest cases where a lack of accurate records can lead to misinterpretation of facts. To put it simply, court reporting is an evergreen profession that has evolved over the years. To their credit, court reporters, and their clients, are generally willing to embrace new technology. Besides making work easier, integrating new technology in court stenography helps counter the idea that the profession is “stuck in the past.”


The Demand for Court Reporters

It is notable that with all the job cuts implemented by governments and judiciaries in the past few years, court reporters were never fired en masse. On the contrary, it is clear to everyone, even the most technologically advanced countries in the world, that stenographers are indispensable. The demand for stenography services has risen in recent years, driven mainly by the private sector, as opposed to courts or governments.


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