As some background, I have been in the reporting business since the late 1970s. I am an RPR and have been scoping full time now for over 20 years. I have been on both sides of the fence of the reporter/scopist partnership.

And that's what it is -- a partnership.

According to the main page of this site, CSRnation is for "Uniting court reporters, scopists and videographers from coast to coast." Unfortunately, a very small minority of reporters have been using this site as a gripe board to air their frustrations with the scopists they have encountered. The unintended result of this is (1) it alienates the scopists who are members here and (2) it is practically a self-fulfilling prophecy to make sure these reporters never find acceptable scopists.

One of the things I have learned about the profession of computer text editing (the formal and original name for "scoping") is that it's a really small world. Scopists are quite well networked through the internet. If a reporter has ever stiffed a scopist, unilaterally reduced their page rate, flamed other scopists around the internet, or otherwise been a PITA, it gets around. Few scopists take on new reporters these days without vetting them beforehand. The best scopists are selective, as they should be.

Now, I'm not entirely unsympathetic to the reporters here. I feel your pain as you bounce around from scopist to scopist, never forming a working partnership with anyone. Of course the first instinct is to blame it on the scopists. I'd like to offer the theory that great reporters with whom it's a pleasure to work, who pay well, who understand the difference between style preferences and errors, who understand that scopists have lives and usually families and are on the low end of the pay scale in this industry -- well, these reporters simply do not have difficulty finding the "good" scopists.

To the reporters who are perpetually fishing around with a dog-eat-dog attitude of squeezing the most amount of work at the fastest pace for the lowest possible minimum wage from their scopists, I'd like to ask: So how's that working for you?

Now, you vocal reporters that love to gripe, go ahead, flame away. I've got my flame-retardant suit on. However, a more productive conversation might just be: How do I form a great reporter/scopist relationship?

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I know this is out of order, but you don't have a "Reply to This" under your name, at least on my screen.

I agree, there's bad apples in both of our professions. I also like the idea of a try-out. I've done it with short jobs before and it's given me an idea if I like their style.

But, as long as scopists are actually reading this thread (and proofreaders too), can I add a gripe of mine? Let's say you respond to my query whether you're available for work. I get your e-mail back and it's all lower case, no punctuation. Believe it or not, I've received responses back like that. That's a big ol' "No thanks. Don't pass go. Interview's over." All I'm saying is be cognizant that this is part of the "interview" process and we're evaluating.

And let me ask a question: You say "simply can't (or won't)." What if you guys are your own worst enemies on this one, i.e., not charging extra for crap writing? If she's paying the same buck a page to get something scoped whether she breaks a sweat or is just sitting there pretending to be competent (who know's maybe she's flirting with the jury), why should she break a sweat if you're willing to do it for her and it's not an extra charge?

By the way -- not just to you, Faye -- I received an e-mail ad from They now have something called DropSite, where you somehow link a large file transfer site directly onto your website. I think that's an excellent idea for scopists. I'm trying to copy and paste the ad, but something's not letting me have success. If anybody is interested and is having difficulty finding the webpage, e-mail me at and I'll forward you the ad.

Well, fortunately, I discussed the fact that the transcript was very rough and that it may very likely grow beyond 10% before I started. We agreed that if that is the case, the price will go up to a transcription rate. I am actually charging higher than my "normal" scoping rate. I am a great advocate for contacting the reporter back to deal with this kind of thing, and to do so as quickly as possible, giving them the opportunity to find someone else if they decide to not work with me.
As to your query about the poor reply -- WHAT are they thinking? I've often wondered why on earth anyone would do that since that's very likely the only chance they'll have to gain you as their client. It seems in this electronic age of chat and instant messaging, we have lost all sense of correct business behavior.
Thanks for the tip on DropSite. I have a file upload that is integrated on my website. It's a little more costly than some, but it works well and is quite flexible if I have a busy month. I'm sure someone will be able to use the info, though!
The voluntary certification of RPR did not begin with a bang either. Reporters really didn't care about it. This was going on while I was in reporting school. To combat the problem of no one caring about the NSRA (which is what it was called back then) and their extraneous testing, the NSRA just grandfathered all the existing reporters. They didn't have to pass any testing. Nada.

So do you suppose they would do the same for scopists, too? That would sort of negate your desired effect, wouldn't it?

I've been working since the '70s. Why would I care about their initials? Will all of my reporters cease using me, even though they are quite aware of my abilities? I think not.

And that's precisely what they experienced in trying to set up the RPR program.
So maybe all of this is boiling down to...

Can you (socpists & proofreaders in general) give recommendations to reporters on how they can save themselves from dealing with bad scopists?

And can reporters give guidance to scopists & proofreaders on what we consider customary, and anything beyond that is extraordinary and gets billed accordingly?

How's that?
Judy --
If you can get any two reporters to agree on what is "customary" that might work.

I think the "trial" period would help in many cases. I think your awareness when you receive replies helps. By the same token, there are key things that I've learned to watch for as well. Unfortunately, those keys are learned the hard way.

I have said to many that communication is a key element. You cannot, as a reporter, expect your scopist to read your mind about how you want something handled. Your scopist must feel that he/she can contact you for clarification. It's sad, but there are times when a scopist comes back again and again with questions about how to get that transcript perfect, she is seen as incompetent, when the truth is she's trying her best to make it a product that her client, the reporter, will be pleased to put a certification on.

Until both reporter and scopist view the transcript as a product that both are striving to produce in perfection in a partnership rather than an employer-employee relationship, I feel that this situation will continue.
Great conclusions, Judy -- I think we have building blocks to begin with now.
Hi, Judy,

That's a wonderful start. Exactly what I hoped for. I hope there are plenty of helpful suggestions generated by your questions.

Can you (scopists & proofreaders in general) give recommendations to reporters on how they can save themselves from dealing with bad scopists?

Yes, I can. Thanks for asking! ;-)

1. Do not cold contact any old scopist from any old directory and say, "What do you charge per page?" Get a rate and then say, "Can you take 300 pages of expedite tomorrow?"

Believe me, that has happened to every single scopist I've ever talked to. What are those reporters thinking?? Why is it a surprise that the quality that comes back to them basically matches the amount of due diligence they invested into the transaction?

2. Contact a scopist, ask for references (for goodness sake!), speak to other reporters who have used this person, and then get a sample.

3. Supply the scopist with the materials she needs to do your job to the best of her ability. Supply her with unusual spellings, if you have them. If she requests a sample finished transcript so that she can reference it for formatting questions, then do it. Don't keep forgetting to send it over. That keeps her from having to put tons of formatting questions into comment boxes when it comes time to format something in the transcript.

I think reporters lose sight of the fact that scopists work for reporters all over the country and that every state and even reporters within the same state have so many different ways to do the exact same thing.

4. A scopist is not your employee. She is running her own business and is the one who determines what her rates are. Don't cold call a new scopist and tell her, "I only pay X amount per page." How's that working for you with the electric company? I don't even answer e-mails sent to me by people who open with that line.

And can reporters give guidance to scopists & proofreaders on what we consider customary, and anything beyond that is extraordinary and gets billed accordingly?

See No. 4 above.

That's a wonderful start. Exactly what I hoped for. I hope there are plenty of helpful suggestions generated by your questions.

Isn't it amazing that I finally figured out what you wanted? Apparently you needed to be asked to vent. Hey, whatever works for you.

Well, as I stated in the original post of this thread:

How do I form a great reporter/scopist relationship?
Very interesting discussion. Thanks everyone.

I have a question for you scopists out there. I've got a scopist. I've been using her for a while, but I think the quality is getting worse instead of getting better. My first instinct is to cut line and run. Find another scopist.

But part of me is thinking, well, she's been decent (not great) in the past, maybe we can salvage this relationship. What's the best way to tell her that her work is not up to my standard and needs to improve. If I sent an e-mail with feedback, hey, I got this transcript back from you, after looking through it, I just wanted to point out some errors that I think you should have caught.

I pointed out some stuff to a scopist once, and that was it. She had some personal problems as well, but there went one scopist.

What do you think?

So how do you correct the scopist?

I think the following phrase is quite appropriate:

hey, I got this transcript back from you, after looking through it, I just wanted to point out some errors that I think you should have caught.

Giving a scopist a chance to improve, IMO, is a much better alternative than just disappearing.
Kathleen, I just joined this site reading this particular forum and though perhaps late in responding, I do like your Dr. Phil approach: How's that working for you? I was an RPR in the 1970s, too, but then we never had scopists. I left CR because of frequent job relocations via my husband six or so years ago and at the urging of a good CR friend of mine who has reported for 25 years, starting scoping for her and done so since. You make very astute points and as the saying goes, there's three sides to every story: His, hers, and the truth. I know there's legitimate gripes on both sides. You, being seasoned and obviously wise, give food for thought for both reporters and scopists. I enjoyed the post.
Thanks, Hollie, and welcome to CSRnation, a place that is hopefully welcoming to reporters and scopists and videographers.

Yes, we didn't have scopists back then, but we sure did have our dictaphones and our funky dictation-speak, carbon copies, manual machines, and typists. Making corrections was such a pain -- never want to go back to that again.


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