How is a reporter supposed to charge for Audio Transcriptions

How do you bill for the hours you spent transcribing it?

Do you use your machine and then go back through it and clean it up and charge for those hours; or do you charge for stopping and starting and replaying while you are listening to the tape?

Any feedback would be great!!

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The cost of transcription, like court reporting, is based on the TAT (turnaround time), i.e., standard delivery (10 business days), expedited delivery (5 business days), daily copy (overnight), and rush delivery (same day).

Here in Washington, D.C., the client-provided audio, such as the CD you mention, would have to be transcribed by a transcriptionist on a QWERTY keyboard. However, I see no reason why a stenotypist could not steno it on their stenotype machine

Most people in my neck of the woods charge a page rate, again, based on the TAT.

In recent times, some transcription-only firms around the United States (not in D.C.) are charging per audio hour and/or per audio minute. They will raise the audio hour and/or audio minute rate for multiple speakers, hard-to-hear audio, technical subject matter, and accented speech.

A court reporter has to expend their time to go on site to produce the record. The court reporter is providing two services when creating the transcript.

A transcriptionist only provides one service. A transcriptionist never has to go on site to record audio. They receive the client-provided audio to produce the transcript.

So, in my opinion, based on 30 years in the industry, I would charge the client a page rate based on the TAT.

If you would like to charge per audio hour and/or per audio minute, it is imperative to know the format (template/codes) of the transcript page itself in order to come up with an equivalent audio hour and/or audio minute rate. For example, let's hypothesize and say that utilizing the format of your transcript page generates approximately 50 pages per hour. This can vary, of course, depending on the speed of the colloquy, but we're talking averages here. If you wanted to charge $4 per page, then you would charge the client $200 per audio hour or approximately $3.35 per audio minute.

HTH! :)
I know a lot of court reporters transcribe directly from tape recorder by topping and starting the tape recorder.

You really need to invest in a transcribing machine if you are going to transcribe tapes. The transcribing machines don't cost that much and are a tool any reporter transcribing tapes should have.

I personally would go so far as to say a transcribing machine is a necessity in transcribing tapes. The transcribing machines have foot pedals that allow you to replay portions of the tape you want to rehear. You may want to rehear a spot several times.

I picked up a super transcribing machine off the internet for $100 several years ago. I once picked up a super transcribing machine at a tag sale for $5.

Staples sells transcribing machines. There are two versions of transcribing machines, those for transcribing ordinary cassette tapes and those for transcribing mini-cassette tapes.

I wouldn't work in transcribing tapes without a transcribing machine.

As court reporters, we always want to do things the easiest way possible. I have charged $20 an hour to transcribe tapes, but I don't earn my living from being a court reporter anymore. I am semi-retired.

Bill, that is very good advice!

As far as standard audiocassette tape transcriber machines go, the newer ones suck a big weenie. They break down more often, due to the plastic gears. Believe it or not, the old standard audiocassette tape transcriber machines are the way to go. Me personally, I love the Sony BM-45 series. You can buy them off eBay all day long for less than 50 bucks. If they need repair, I have a guy in Virginia who can repair them for less than 100 bucks.

The standard audiocassette tape transcriber machines they sell at Staples are usually Panasonics. They sell standard and micro transcriber machines there. They cost 200 bucks apiece brand new.

For CD, DVD, digital audio/video files, it would be helpful to purchase an Infinity foot pedal which hooks right up into your computer. Cost is about 60 to 70 bucks, depending on where you buy it.

Then you only need to download -- FOR FREE -- the Express Scribe reader to place that audio file in. The Express Scribe reader will work only with audio files, not video files.

For DVD and/or digital video files, there is another reader called StartStop, but that costs a little chunk of change -- about $200 or thereabouts. It is probably not worth it to buy this if you don't do it very often.

There is a variety of software items available that will allow you to dub the audio from the DVD and/or digital video file. I use "Total Recorder," which costs about $19 to $35, depending on which version you purchase. You can download it right from their website, after you buy it. Then you would have like an MP3 and/or WAV file that you could transcribe using the Infinity foot pedal and Express Scribe reader.

Hi Jennie,

I bought software to transcribe DVD videos. Luckily I have a computer expert that helps me with getting computer to work transcribing DVD's. Sometimes the files have to be in a certain format for the system I bought to work.

If a court reporter is transcrsibing DVD's, he needs software and footpedal for transcribing DVD's.

DVD footpedal works a little different than a standard transcribing machine foot pedal, but you will get the knack of it. It's all very tricky, and thank God I have a computer expert who is available to help me.

Last DVD transcription my program costing hundreds of dollars didn't work on last DVD I tried to transcribe, and my computer expert set me up with something free from the internet.

Story of life in computer age, you have to have a computer expert, and you are really blessed if you have such help.

Best Regards, Bill
Hi, Bill. I totally empathize with you. It seems like there are too many digital audio/video formats.

Most people today are using the StartStop PowerPlay software for DVD and digital video. Here is the link, for anyone who might be interested: StartStop PowerPlay

The Infinity foot pedal with a USB plug works with StartStop and Express Scribe, but Exprsess Scribe will only do audio files, not DVDs or video. I like Express Scribe the best, though, as far as sound quality. Best of all, it's FREE!

I received a client-provided CD the other day, and it was a CDA format. Well, the CDA format would not allow me to send the audio to a fellow transcriptionist. It was encrypted. I could play it on my computer, but I could not send the audio to another.

Well, there's more than one way to skin a cat. I converted it using Switch Sound File Converter software. Worked like a charm. Within seconds, I had me an MP3 file.

I hear what you're saying about the computer age, Bill. It's hard to keep up with it.

That is why I like forums such as this where I can learn from others. Every now and then, I can share a few tidbits, but I find myself learning from others more often. I kind of like it here as CSRNation. There seems to be a very nice group of people who frequent this site.
As a rule, I estimate transcription time as 3 to 4 times the length of the actual audio. If it's especially difficult due to poor audio quality, cross-talk, or having to look up spellings or do any kind of research, I'll add on some hours to the total. In the SF Bay Area, firms typically charge anywhere from $25 to $40 per hour for this transcription time.

This is, of course, in addition to the page rate, which can vary widely. I believe local firms charge in the range of $4 to $6 per page for 7- to 10-day turn-around.
I charge same as depo rates. Same expedite fees apply. I steno it in and then scope it in as usual. I use my audio sync so I don't have to use the tape for the second go round.
At the firm I work for and the firm previous, we charged a per diem for the writing from audio and then a page rate the same as a depo.
When the work comes in directly to my company, I invoice per hour for actual transcribing time and then charge a per page rate as well. I only invoice for the writing time on my steno machine. It does come to more hours than if you are there. Depending on quality of the tape. Once I have stenoed it in, I charge a page rate, usually the same as a hearing rate as opposed to a deposition rate.

Reid Bryce Robbins
Reid Robbins Court Reporting & Videographic Services
Minnetonka, MN
I charge by the page at a rate that is higher than my regular page rate, by about 50% - either prepay before delivery or credit at time of (or for my one client, he's billed, but pays in 10 days).

I write it on my steno machine, then proof on screen with audio, then proof on paper.

Then I PDF the thing, digitally sign the "to the best of my ability" certificate, and off it goes.


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