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Yes, this is a Big Deal for me, and I've done what is best for ME.
January 21, 2013
To: Jim Cudahy, NCRA President
After three decades of reporting, most as a member of NCRA, it is with great disappointment that I submit my letter of resignation from membership in the National Court Reporters Association. I started having serious reservations with the T.R.A.I.N. initiative advocating "Realtime by all, for all," but the last straw was NCRA's publishing of "The Realtime Experiment" in the JCR, tacitly advocating and supporting free realtime.
You yourself, Jim, pointed out that zero is, indeed, a number. When NCRA comes down hard on reporters for discussing realtime practices, then turns around and blatantly and offensively, I might add, publishes an article whose message is that free realtime benefits all, what's wrong with this picture?
I understand the limitations of being an information dissemination association. However, by publishing this article, you tacitly condone and promote providing realtime services for free, a practice to which I am vehemently opposed, as you know from my many years of advocating and fighting for smart, skilled realtime reporters. This comes on the heels of the T.R.A.I.N. initiative, with its "Realtime by all, for all" message, delivered without equal time devoted to teaching the most basic principles of running a successful business. For instance, in Business 101 you learn, "First, you must have something to sell." Next, "When something is high in demand and short in supply, it is valuable." In this profession, I trade my expertise for money. NCRA's efforts to "save the profession" will come at great cost to many hard-working reporters.
At a time when much of NCRA's membership base is sorely lacking in business acumen, spotlighting an article that sends a strong message in favor of free realtime, many (thankfully not all, but unfortunately many) will read the article as NCRA's unspoken encouragement to go forth and do the same. While professing yourself a champion of the working reporter, NCRA is tacitly supporting the very dangerous business practices that have plagued reporters for over a decade. By my resignation and actively distancing myself from your association, I DO stand for the working reporter ... those of us who assign value to our expertise.
It's disturbing to see this major failing of an association many reporters still believe in. At the very least, I hope this article will spur discussion at conferences, on message boards, over lunch tables and happy hours all over the country on this valuable lesson that should be apparent now to all reporters: You have to look out for yourself in this business.
Criticism from my colleagues who wish to remain part of NCRA is a hit I can take. Those who were my friends before will remain my friends. I will continue to be an advocate, not for every reporter, but for excellent reporters. I will continue my mantra that Realtime is a Specialty. I will continue to encourage reporters to respect themselves and our profession by not selling out to the "Just work longer and harder to make more money" philosophy that plagues our profession. And I will continue to give realtime the full respect it deserves.
Mary Ann Payonk, Independent Realtime Reporter
California CSR No. 13431, CCRR (Realtime) No. 107
Mary Ann, as always, much admiration and respect for you, dear. <3
Mary Ann, some of my postings have not been popular - but are usually worth of an opinion. I paid my membership late, so I did not get the January issue. I tended to get in trouble in high school with teachers because I had opinions (and teachers didn't like it).
As part of my Bachelor's Degree and my teacher certification course, we had to learn about journalism. Those courses were taught by those with Master's or Ph'D's. The purpose of an article (or writing) is either: (1) Give information to a certain population; (2) Be entertaining; (3) Get your name and concept out; or (4) Publish because you are required to. College professors and those in certain fields are required to publish.
Think of that Realtime Article this way: It was written by someone who was required to publish, someone who wanted his name out, and it was entertaining. And in your opinion, it was ignorant.
Don't let it eat you up. Don't let it take away from you. Fight. Stand up. Be counted. Matter. Make a difference. If you have an opinion about that article, then what you should do: Write your own article for NCRA regarding the realtime issue. You will be: (1) Getting your name and concept out and providing information. What you can do AFTER you get your article published is make copies of it and provide it to your clients.
You think that article was worthy of attention? I absolutely cannot read anything written by Danielle Steal(?) Almost every time I read a YAHOO article, I am thinking I can do better.
You can also get your article published in other places besides NCRA. Get it published in your local bar association magazine (here it would be Hillsborough County Bar), your State Bar Association, the American Bar Association, Abovethelaw.com, Linked-In (the court reporting group).
You are obviously an advocate for realtime and everything about it. Stomp on that crappy article. You can make a difference!!
I hope you express all these views you have above in your letter to them. Is there an article in the January JCR? I have not received mine yet. The only reason I remain a member is because if I want to apply for a CSR in another state, my RPR gets me reciprocity in most states. I first passed the RPR in 1982 and let it laps in the '90s and repassed it in 2006. I don't want to have take any more tests!
Way to go, MA. You rock. Stand up for what you believe in.
And, Mary Jo, a gal who doesn't like Danielle Steel?! Say it isn't so! lol
You know, another point here is that most realtimers I know say there stress level goes up at least a notch when they are doing realtime. Realtimers need to get to a job even a little earlier for setup, they have to buy and maintainStenocast or something similar that they use to hook up, sometimes haul extra laptops for the attorneys and it's just not right for them to not be paid extra for that service and skill level. And there is nothing stopping attorneys from talking faster and faster and faster..............
I think when someone of Mary Ann's caliber resigns from
NCRA to make a very valid point, I think reporters better take notice.
IF people like Mary Ann continue to lose support for NCRA, it's a bad sign
for the profession.
I'm sorry, but it's not just "someone of Mary Ann's caliber" or "people like Mary Ann" who lose support for the NCRA that then other reporters should take notice. There are a very few of us who are just a tad more farsighted than others, yes, I dare say. I vowed to drop my NCRA membership when the whole ER/DR issue came up with the NCRA years ago, and I have been true to my word. There were many reporters, at the time, who insisted that the NCRA would change its direction; that it would, once again, advocate for the steno reporter; that it would/could be changed from within, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And who was it who were so adamant about that? Many of those reporters are ones who were hell bent on desperately holding onto, for dear life, the precious string of initials behind their names, the very initials that are now, ironically, hell bent on putting them (the very reporters who support them) out of business -- or, at the very least, eating some of their piece of the pie.
I have labeled all NCRA e-mails as spam, so I never see them. When their solicitation to rejoin comes in the mail, it automatically goes into the round file without even being opened. Their calls are answered, and I tell them how disgusted I've been with them and that I would never join again.
I said it years ago, and I will say it again: The reporters who are still members of the NCRA are putting the nails in their own coffins.
Like Mary Jo, I have my opinions, too, often not very popular, but I'm okay with that.
I'm not getting all the drama here, myself. I've written for the JCR several times, and this is my experience: There are subjects they would like for you to cover if you're willing, since the writing is all unpaid volunteer work; but mainly they need material to fill up the magazine, so they take what they are offered. And the "they" here is the editor, not the publisher or the board. Ergo, the publishing of one person's opinion at the production level does not necessarily reflect the thinking of the president or the board at the management level.
That being said, everyone should feel free to belong or not belong, of course, and keep or throw away their certs. As we should all know from being on the job, reasonable minds can differ.
Well said, Lisa. Well said.
Mary Ann, since you will be losing your CCRR license, and I know you've been doing this a long time and have a lot of clients, can you still charge your normal rates? Just curious if the board has control over that or not. I know you'll be saving a lot of money by not having to keep up your license and also not subscribing to the magaine.
Why would my rates change? My rates are based on my expertise in realtime. And I do appreciate your mention of saving money, but I do not consider the cost of maintaining my license a huge cost. I have always enjoyed the company of my colleagues at meetings,conferences and conventions, and that will not cease. Why would it? That is a most enjoyable part of court reporting, and one that I will continue! M.A.