Just spoke with an agency about a very, very troubling issue.  They say rough drafts are being provided without charge, if you do realtime on a case.  What!?!?!?  I don't do realtime or rough draft for free.  WHY are reporters accepting this?  Yes, times are tough, but you have to be tougher.  JUST SAY NO to this practice.  Do you like doing work for nothing? I am just disgusted by what we are not being paid for anymore.  

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It is disgusting, Amy, but keep this in mind.  Just caution to watch the lingo.  If rough drafts and realtime are charged to the client and paid to the reporter at the exact same rate ... the atty receiving realtime and a rough draft pays no more than the atty receiving JUST a rough draft, yes, that is wrong and shows not only a blatant disregard for the talent (YOU, ME) but in my opinion displays the most fundamental misunderstanding of what it is we do.  I've gone around and around with GOOD agencies about this, and they will not budge in their thinking ... but we worked it out to both of our satisfaction.  The maddening part is that in my conversations with some of those good agencies, they will say, "It's industry practice.  Everyone charges like this, so we do too."  Really???  To the agencies who do this, do you not have pride enough in your ability to attract the very BEST realtime writers that you can't stand up for a small upcharge for that realtime + rough draft fee?  Can you not see the difference?  I've even had a conversation with an agency owner who said that when they do not pay for a rough draft, they get JUST the realtime feed off of Bridge or the first-pass, not-cleaned-up version of realtime.  If they want a separately emailed rough draft, they DO pay for that.  But that is TOTALLY INSANE because it encourages bad writing, and reporters who can't write readable realtime benefit over those who can write it right the first time.  Makes no effin' sense to me, and I'm very adamant in my position that excellent realtime writers are so few and far between, if you're writing it right the first time, that's valuable and worth something!

But ... if there is a different rate for realtime than for a rough draft, even though it's not CALLED "paying you for a rough draft with realtime," you are, in fact, being compensated more for realtime with a rough draft than just a rough draft.  Sometimes we get caught up in the vernacular, the lingo, what we're calling things.  If you're making more for realtime than just a rough draft, no worries.  If not, SHAME ON those agency owners who are selling us short!


Unfortunately, that is the way it is for a lot of firms that I work for in the Bay Area.  I know firms back East charge for both.  I've complained about it to my office managers and they say the just cannot get away with charging for both here.  The attorneys are paying for a RT feed, not for me to go back and research names online and all the other time that goes into cleaning up the transcript before sending out a rough.  I have made it a practice to never spend more than 15 minutes on a rough, though.  I clean it up all day on breaks because I want the RT to look the best it can be; i.e., names, etc. and do a spell check and take out all untrans and then send it along. 

Kelli, I've gotten into a mild disagreement on the wording here.  I say we are getting hung up on the word of "charge for both."  I have always gotten paid at least twice the page rate of a rough draft to provide realtime.  I do not consider it "charging for both," though, I consider the expertise to write it right the first time and turn out near-perfect realtime (with rough draft) very valuable because of the quality of the first-pass writing.  

So you're saying that many times, attys on the West Coast, as well as reporters, are charged/paid the same whether they get realtime w/rough draft, or just a rough draft alone?  If that page rate is high enough, I see nothing wrong with it!  If it's on the low side, though, very bad.

Maybe it's just a matter of the wording.


I know I can't put rates on here because that would make what I'm saying so much easier to understand.  What I'm saying is if an atty orders realtime, I provide him/her realtime.  At the end of the day, all attorneys expect a rough emailed to them.  We don't get paid anything extra for that rough that we email to the attorney.  I shouldn't say always; it depends which firm you are taking the job for.  On the East Coast, those firms pay reporters for both, meaning a price to provide realtime and a separate price for the rough.

Now, I know you are constantly saying on here how perfect of a writer you are all the time and it takes a special reporter to provide realtime that's perfect the first time out.  I don't believe that's possible.  You cannot have every name in the entire universe in your dictionary.  It's just not going to happen.  Also, attorneys read from documents extremely fast and mumble when reading and it's not always clear what is being said or how things are set up in the documents.

On a rough, that stuff is cleared up and it takes extra time at lunch or on breaks or after the depo is over to correct wrong names or quotes that were not written correctly, etc. and you are no exception.  With all due respect, of course.....

"I know you are constantly saying on here how perfect of a writer you are all the time and it takes a special reporter to provide realtime that's perfect the first time out.  I don't believe that's possible."

I also don't believe that's possible. 

But I will admit, whenever I hear anybody saying how good/perfect they are -- at anything!, be it tennis or cleaning a house -- I always wonder what their perception of "perfect" is and whether it coincides with my definition.  I usually find that my thoughts of perfection are so high up in the clouds, that nobody ever achieves it. 

It's the same thing with how "busy" you are.  It depends on what your definition of busy is, I guess.  Is it 250 pages a month or 5,000 pages month?

And also with all due respect to MA, one thing she's been very good at in her posts about perfect realtime is keeping those people that don't think they're "perfect" from offering the service in the first place, therefore keeping the realtime market very small and, hence, profitable to her and the others currently offering realtime.   As she has said, if everybody offered realtime, nobody would pay for it.  So how do you keep everybody from offering realtime?  No doubt she's worked hard to get her writing/dictionary in shape, and I'm sure she'd like to make sure it's profitable to her until the day she decides to retire.

Oh, I totally understand both Kelli and Judy's comments.  I'm very very willing to let the market decide!  Meaning, of course, hoping that the market continues to choose the best writers out there. And there are a lot of near-perfect writers.  I use my example of "real" realtime because I am a beautiful realtime writer.  BUT I'M NOT THE ONLY ONE.  I never said I was, for gosh sakes.  I'm just very vocal about realtime, and I think it's a specialty.  It should be respected.  Lisa agrees, and so does Amy, and plenty of other reporters out there.  I'm not offended, but I'm definitely opinionated.  Realtime is a specialty that should be compensated for, and highly.  If realtime is just a matter of letting someone watch you write, every reporter with a CAT system can write realtime and need make no excuses for the readability.  Reporters often ask when their realtime is "good enough."  I say it's good enough when you would pay for your own realtime.  If you can look at your first-pass realtime and in good conscience sell it, by all means, DO.


"I am a beautiful realtime writer."

MA, I've got a question.  I know how much you love your NCRA initials, so why not sit for the realtime contest?  That seems like it would be "the" credential to have. 

Kelli and Judy, you've both said everything I've always thought but never vocalized, not wanting to seemingly be one to always start cat fights here.

Oh, I don't want to start a cat fight either.  I'm seriously asking what I hope is a friendly question that will generate meaningful dialogue.

Seriously, if I had a pair big enough and I could type on a court reporting forum "I am a beautiful realtime writer," (heck, I find ways to critize myself when I write a .17 untran), I'd want to show the world just how good I am by bringing home that coveted 1st Place Realtime Writer "winner" trophy.  I mean, it does seem like the next step after one's gained all of the other initials that NCRA has to offer. 


No, no, I wasn't at all saying that you are starting a cat fight, Judy.  I was referring to myself, since I'm sure some people here might see (think of) me that way.

Whoa.  I am usually the one who can tend to be unnecessarily harsh (it's my "delivery," I hear--lol), but not this time.  I have read M.A.'s posts for years and know she has great confidence in her writing.  This has never bothered me; I have never wanted to say you don't make friends by being confident enough in your realtime performance to just put it out there.  I have never thought, boy, M.A. should really tone it down--never even bothered to look to see if she has any initials to prove it--I just believe her (and I do not know her personally).  What I have thought of, though, is Mary Ann is the one I would ask to look at a file of mine and tell me what she thought about it, if it were "real realtime" or just good enough for me (or worse) and give me pointers.  I've thought of Mary Ann as a consultant, someone's opinion worth paying for.  I haven't been put off by her confidence and any instance of her professing the quality of realtime that reporters should strive for before providing the service for a fee--and, de'lordy mercy (as my dad would say), never once did it enter my mind she was suggesting that high standard to keep the number of realtimers low (insert maniacal laugh here) so she could count her pieces of gold--I mean, really.  And I agree with her: realtime should be more costly than rough drafts; and I believe that realtime fee should not include a rough draft sent via email several hours later.  Two products--two charges. 

"The agency doesn't"--I've heard that for years, too.  Seems like those three little words render some reporters completely helpless.  o_O

I"ve been thinking about this too.  I agree with you, Amanda.  I've seen so many posts of M.A.'s encouraging other reporters.  She often talks about solidarity.  I don't understand why she'd be knocked for taking pride in a job well done.  I know that I've worked long and hard to get the type of work that I get, and I'm sure she has too.  I don't think for a minute she's trying to preclude anyone from becoming a great realtime reporter.  What she says is true.  Realtime is a skill that has value.  If someone is out there putting out junk and never doing anything to improve their skills, they get what they put in.  We're all trying to improve.  That's why we have The Brief Group and the punctuation groups, etc.  Hopefully, we're all working to prove we're better than ER. 


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