Do new reporters use scopists? I am most concerned over this part of the job, specially in the beginning when untranslates are present.

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Hi, Lisa,
When I was a new reporter I did not use a scopist b/c of lack of funds and I assume you're talking about building your dictionary b/c of the untranslates. Be sure and define as much as you can and build that dictionary. You can always change things if you define it wrong. Dictionary building is key, in my opinion, in the beginning. The new reporters I have helped at my firm seem to be afraid to define things and put them in their personal dictionary.

I use scopists a lot now. If you can find one that will work with a new reporter, I would use one b/c I was so much slower as a beginner I was literally working all the time. If you have a rush and you have a scopist you work with on a regular basis, that way you've got them to help you with that transcript.

What software system are you on?
How long have you been reporting?

Good luck,
Lisa, have you read Kyung's blog posts on scopists? If not, go here and here.

Heck, you might just want to look through all of Kyung's blogs!

Janiece wrote: The new reporters I have helped at my firm seem to be afraid to define things and put them in their personal dictionary.

Janiece, send those folks here:

That should cure that fear!

Good luck ...!

"For a Good (steno) Time ...."
There's a good side and a bad side to new reporters using scopists.

You don't get your dictionary built up as fast as if you were doing it yourself.
You don't see where you're making your finger errors -- or errors in general -- and won't be as motivated to do it correctly the next time.
You probably won't be as motivated to learn to make corrections from your steno keyboard during a job.
You probably don't have the funds to hire a scopist.

As long as you hire a really good, seasoned, professional scopist, you'll be able to see what your transcript should look like.
If you find yourself on an expedite, you'll be able to get your job out and still be able to work the next day.
In general, you'll be able to take more work.
If you find yourself on a job that's completely over your head, a seasoned scopist can probably make sense out of your outlines (rather than you turning in inferior work).

I'd suggest you do need to know a good scopist you can go to in case you do get back-to-back expedites, an expert medical that you don't have a clue what they were testifying about, or any number of scenarios that a good scopist will be able to put you back together again. But start with a short, easy depo to test whether you're compatible together. That 200-page expedite is not the time to test out a new-to-you scopist.

A good rule of thumb is look over the punctuation in their ad and see if it's compatible with how you punctuate (if they have even one error, move to the next ad). Look them up on some of the forums to see what type of things they're posting about (complaining about not getting paid all the time, complaining about bad reporters all the time, complaining all the time in general... move to the next ad) and, again, see if their punctuation "style" is compatible with yours. If you want them to make dictionary entries, make sure they know how to read steno (just because they have your audio does not mean they're going to know what is the beginning and end of your steno strokes that they're defining). GET REFERENCES of satisfied reporters. And if you find a gem, make sure you pay them quickly! Want to piss off a scopist/proofreader? Be a slow payer or a no-payer.

But even if you don't hire a scopist, you should ALWAYS send ALL of your work to a really good proofreader. I can't stress that one enough. It's amazing how many reporters start working and think they don't need to use a proofreader. Or, worse yet, send it to a bad proofreader (like your kid, mother-in-law, neighbor, etc., who don't have a clue what they're doing).
I think you should use a scopist some as a new reporter and do a lot of your editing yourself b/c you will be a better reporter. Always write like you are going to edit it yourself and do your best.
When you find a good scopist, treat them like gold. They work very hard for their money. Pay them right away.
That's my advice.
i use digital cat and i am just starting, i have a pretty decent dictionary but i am noticing. it is hard getting started, i am just in the process of going out with a new agency and hope to start being put on jobs soon.
I think when you are new, you should edit your own work and use a proofreader. That is what I did when I was new and you learn way more about how a transcript should look and building up your dictionary.

Also, scopists are expensive. I personally spend about $40,000 a year on them. When I was new, that was about 10K more than I made for the year. They really come in handy on expedites and especially dailies. Could not do it without them, especially because I need my sleep and don't do well staying up all night editing. I let them do that.
Once you get more experience, you will find using scopists is the way to go. You can take on way more work using a scopist and have time for your family. That is what it is all about. I personally think being a reporter is a job for two people, not one if you want a life.


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