I'm wondering if most reporters are expecting what I'm expecting from a scopist. I'd be curious to hear both reporters' and scopists' opinions, of course.

Do you expect your scopist to:

Look up on the Internet spellings of any proper noun, i.e., company names, cities, doctors, products?

Fix wrong punctuation at the end of a sentence? Example:
"You were there what dates."

Follow your preferences as best they can? Examples:
Paragraph frequently
Put "BY" lines after any interruption in Q&A

When it's a video, go over the videotape word for word and be sure every word is in there?

Follow basic punctuation rules? And I know this is an area of much controversy and disagreement, but there are several basic punctuation rules that both Morson's and the rest of the world uses (Chicago Manual of Style and others). I'm very curious what punctuation most people can agree on.

How about these:

Comma between two independent clauses connected by a coordinating conjunction. Example: "He was happy, but he didn't like it." "She went up the stairs, and she fell down on her crown."

Break up run-on or choppy sentences - at least in SOME way. Example:
Q Do you recall during the time, I think you told me you worked there for about a year, during the time you worked at Rain Bird, was there any type of safety training that went about there?

Let me know what you think. Are there basics we all expect?

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All I'm saying is.....Have you ever had an attorney call you up and complain because you didn't have a comma between two independent clauses connected by a conjunction?
"Hey, on Page 104, Line 2, I don't see the comma in front of the word and." NO.

Have you ever had an attorney call you up and complain because of consistent misspellings, wrong words? SURE, that could happen.

I've been in this profession a long time. I produce a good product and none of the reporters for whom I've worked since I started scoping has ever complained.

Again, I go back to knowing your reporter's preferences and open communication.
Actually, I do have a client who received a call from the attorney who took a depo to complain that the transcript didn't match the video. When the reporter asked for clarification, the attorney went on to explain how on page 3, line 23, the word "the" was spoken four times, and the reporter only had three. Then he took the opportunity to go line by line and point out what he felt were errors in punctuation.

I'm sure it's rare, but it does happen. I've worked for attorneys as well, and I can tell you that normally they won't say anything to the reporter or the firm, but they will instruct their secretary to make sure that particular reporter never comes back again. A scopist's is a lot more important than most people think.

Sheena Stobaugh
Scoping since 1996
Case CATalyst, Eclipse, DigitalCAT
Look Sheena,
I am not trying to one-up-you. I'm sure you're a great scopist. But just because I disagree with something someone said, please don't imply that I am not a qualified scopist. I have been a REPORTER for 16+ years. Have you ever been a reporter?

I think you're definitely missing what I'm trying to say. Maybe I need to be more succinct.

On video depos....yes, you must have every little thing in there. As I stated before, the transcript is usually sync'd up to the video, so therefore it must be as close as humanly possible. You still need to follow the reporter's preference. I've seen some reporters who wanted "uhms" or "ahs" put in the transcript and I've seen some reporters who didn't want that put in the transcript. That's just an example.

On everyday depos....I am thorough. I WILL research and Google and go the extra mile. If I can add or correct any punctuation, I WILL do it. If I can't find something or I have a question about something, I WILL flag it for the reporter.

As a REPORTER, I have never had an attorney call and complain because I didn't have a comma in or I didn't capitalize "page 3." If an attorney is calling about something like that on an everyday depo, then there must be more wrong with the transcript than the examples I'm talking about. I mean, it does have to be a usable product.

Bottom line is it's the reporter's name at the end of the transcript. It does take a little time when using a new scopist to get used to each other and learn preferences and learn to have a little trust between each other.

But if a reporter can't get any punctuation in and it's completely left to the scopist -- and I do mean ANY -- then I don't think either one of us would want to work for that level of a reporter. I should be able to scope 25 pages an hour. And if I'm not getting that, then I'm going to charge more. However, I think I've been charging less than a lot of scopists, according to what I've seen on this website. Be that as it may, we all know, there are those days where the reporter has a bad day for whatever reason and you take it with a grain of salt.

Maybe I'm just a little naive about the level of competency of some the so-called scopists out there.

First let me say that, no, I've never been a reporter. I have attended reporting school, if that makes any difference in your opinion of me at all. Whether I'm a reporter or a scopist makes no difference; I know that one of the tasks of a scopist is to make sure a transcript is properly punctuated, whether the reporter has time to write the punctuation or not.

I don't see anything in any of my posts to indicate that I implied you weren't a qualified scopist. If that's the way you're taking it, then you're taking my posts the wrong way. In my earlier post, I was simply trying to get a clarification of exactly what you were saying regarding punctuation. I don't want new scopists to get the idea that it's not their job to add any missing punctuation.

Let me try to explain where I'm coming from on this issue. In the past five to six years, there has been an absolute explosion in the number of new scopists. There is an advertisement in almost every magazine you pick up telling people they can quit their jobs, work from home, make your own hours and earn $40,000+ per year. People are signing up to scoping courses by the dozens, scurrying through the course and hanging their hats as scopists. I'd venture to say that three-quarters of them don't have the necessary skills to successfully perform the job. That's not to say they can't take some extra English courses to learn those necessary skills, but most don't.

Those unqualified scopists are giving all scopists a very bad reputation. I can't tell you the number of times I've had to prove myself to a reporter who has just about given up on using a scopist altogether because they've tried several times to find a good scopist and keep getting the unqualified. They assume we're all that bad. I told myself a few years ago that the bad would be quickly weeded out, but the fact is, they just keep coming in droves.

I've been given transcripts to correct that another so-called scopist has scoped. They are horrible! It's become clear to me that some of these people don't have a clue what they're supposed to be accomplishing. They throw in some dashes and commas and some misspelled words and send the job back and expect to be paid. I'm serious.

The thought of working at home is certainly enticing, but this is a very specialized job that not just anyone can perform. When anyone I know finds out I work from home, they always want the details. I give as little detail as possible these days because when I used to go into detail, the response I always got was, "Oh, that sounds easy! Can you teach me to do it?" No, it's not easy. I did try to help out a friend who desperately needed some extra income. She couldn't do it. I finally had to suggest that she sign up for an English course at the local college because it was clear she just didn't have the requisite knowledge that one normally learns in grade school. Her spelling was horrible. She didn't know a thing about where to put a comma. If you don't have that basic knowledge, you're just not going to be a good scopist. Like I said in an earlier post, those who don't possess this knowledge don't even know it. My friend thought "does" was spelled "dose" and changed it all the way through the transcript. Now, she could get all the words in the transcript, but that's not all a scopist is tasked to do. If you can't spell things right and you don't know beans about punctuation, you're not a good scopist. That's as simple as it gets.

Having said that, there are reporters out there who don't know anything about it either. I once proofed for a reporter who scoped her own transcript and had "per say" throughout the transcript. When I changed it to "per se," she questioned me on it and said she'd never heard of it before. I had one reporter who thought the phrase "so to speak" was "sort of speak." I could go on and on.

Anyway, I've made it my mission to try to educate as many scopists as possible about what being a scopist entails. I'm hoping one of two things results from it: Either they take the necessary courses to fully grasp all aspects of the English language, including grammar, punctuation and spelling, or they realize they don't have what it takes and go back to working outside the home. Either one of those options will benefit the scoping community as a whole.

I'm tired of watching these unqualified scopists drop their rates to undercut the rest of us. They drop their rates because they have to in order to lure more reporters because they've lost all the initial reporter base they had because they aren't any good. They drop rates because they have no confidence in their work product. I guess if a reporter is truly only concerned with "getting all the words," then a dollar a page might be a fair price for that, but for those who want an impeccably scoped transcript of near-perfect quality, they need to realize that that level of service comes at a higher price.

The same scenario plays out in the reporting world, as I'm sure you know. There are bargain-bin reporters undercutting the rates of the truly qualified. They sit at their machine and bang the keyboard, then come home and either type it all from the audio or hire someone else to do their dirty work. On the other side of the coin, you have the truly talented reporters who, on most days, get every word spoken verbatim, can provide realtime and are extremely anal about the quality of their transcripts. Who deserves to be paid a higher page rate? You don't have to answer that.

Sheena Stobaugh
Scoping since 1996
Case CATalyst, Eclipse, DigitalCAT
Excellent post, Sheena.

And on the subject of "per say" and "sort of speak," I assume "the girl next store" would fall into that category too, huh? ;) I saw that one recently.

Lots of good points. Thanks for taking the time to make them.


LOL That one would certainly apply.

Sheena Stobaugh
Scoping since 1996
Case CATalyst, Eclipse, DigitalCAT
I recently had a hearing full of "I'll bite." In fairness to the reporter, I did listen and the guy said "I'll bite" over and over and over. She was writing it as she heard it. We scratched our heads for hours trying to figure out why he was saying "I'll bite" at the most random times.

We finally ~ FINALLY ~ understood that he was mispronouncing "albeit." My only guess is that it was on his word-a-day calendar or something, and he was determined to use his spiffy new word as much as possible. Too bad he didn't read the pronunciation guide before he started throwing it around. :)

Hey Sheena,
Looking at all of this back-and-forth, I truly believe we're in agreement here. We're just coming from two different sides of the fence in our opinions but at the end of the day, we're on the same page.

You're right......it's a shame that these unqualified scopists are costing us qualified scopists rates, clients and difficulty finding work, because if an unqualified scopist does work, the reporter is wary to look for another scopist.

Thanks for some excellent dialogue.

I think you're right. I must have misinterpreted your first post. Maybe I hadn't had enough coffee yet when I read it. :o)

I research all spellings via the Internet, and if I can't find what I'm looking for, I pick up the phone and call the pharmacy, the company, etc., for the proper spelling. One cannot trust a Google "hit." I've found it necessary to go directly to a company's website, and oftentimes there are ambiguities within a company's own website. Sad, but true.

All transcripts that I scope are returned with the proper punctuation intact. I find the coordinating conjunction rule one that is ignored far too much. The acronym is FANBOYS, for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so. If two clauses can stand independently on either side of a coordinating conjunction, a comma is required.

With respect to videotaped transcripts, I go as far as to insert part of a word that was spoken and use a suspended hyphen to indicate that the entire word wasn't spoken. When these cases go to trial, it's imperative that every spoken word is on the record. I received the note below from a reporter that I worked with for several years on this high-profile trial.

Hi, Linda.

I am still on the Hyatt vs. FTB trial, which, as you know, is roughs only, so no scoping work to send out. Speaking of the trial, many of "our" transcripts we worked on together in that case have been used, big as life, on a 12-foot screen for the jury to read along with the video. Interesting to see your own work used in the actual trial. It all looked very clean. Bravo, Linda. I was very proud of our work. I am very happy that every bit of the audio was used for the scoping. That's more than I can say for some reporter/scopist work that's been displayed at trial for the jury -- horrible and embarrassing to the profession.
All's well here. Only problem I have is the awful heat, triple digits now, ugh :)
Take care.

Most reporters want BY lines; however, I've encountered several that don't. For those reporters who do want BY lines, each and every one is inserted.

Punctuation in run-on sentences can simply be taken care of by using dashes or commas, and I paragraph as necessary.

Hope this info is helpful to you.

Scoping with a passion for perfection,

As a full-time scopist, I always ask for feedback from the reporters who send me work. And, for those who take the time to do so, I welcome the feedback they provide.

I find when you are dealing with conversational speaking and run-on sentences, punctuation is not always obvious. However, I certainly agree with Marla that the role of the Scopist is to apply punctuation, break up choppy and run-on sentences, and apply standards such as those set forth in Morson's.

In addition, I definitely, along with the Scopists I know, research the Internet to find words, businesses, industry phrases and address.

When I'm done with a document and read it through, it should make sense and be as easy to read as possible. Anything that doesn't look or sound right, I go back and check.

Once I submit the document back to the reporter, I rely upon their feedback to let me know about their preferences or styles. Some reporters like to see a lot of commas; some don't. Some reporters like to sentences broken up wherever possible; others don't want to see short, choppy sentences.

That's my input from the scopists side. My goal is always to please my client -- which is you, the reporter.
I know that is what my reporters expect. That seems very basic to me, and I would be happy to scope for a reporter with just those basic preferencees.

Sounds very reasonable to me from a scopists perspective.

Mary Reynolds
Norman, OK


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