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I know this might very well cause a sh&t storm. I truly don't mean it to, but I can see how it might. But I am trying to understand the thinking behind the rate sheets I see, in general, today from scopists. One of my regular scopists is undergoing treatment for breast cancer; so I have been looking for another one to help out with my workload while she recuperates. I am just appalled at the things that I see scopists charging for nowadays. Charging more per page for a lot of colloquy? Charging more for technical but no discount for clean or easy work? Charging more for video versus full audio? (What is the difference?)
I understand that the point is to make money, to earn your income. The more pages you scope, the more money you make. The faster you can go through a job, the more pages you can scope and the more money you make. I get it. But the same goes for reporters. The more pages we write, the more we earn. I can't tell you how many times I've sat in a job as the witness rambles on and on for pages and never answers a question, and I can visualize his testimony margin to margin on the page instead of moving forward page to page. I can't stand when attorneys argue or have long discussions between each other causing the number of pages to slow down. But reporters can't control that. We can't say, "Excuse me, Counsel. Can you all please stop talking and get back to Q&A so that I can get more pages, please?" Reporters don't get paid extra for any of that stuff. Why should we be penalized and lose money when having it scoped? The increasing trend among reporting agencies is not to pay extra for technical material either. I can understand wanting to charge more for scoping technical material, but how many of you give the reporter a break on your regular page rate when it is easy material or the job is well written and you don't have to do much? I have never encountered one scopist who does that.
The reason I am writing this is because of being down a scopist at the same time that I have been incredibly busy, I have had several of my reporter friends help me out by scoping expedites for me when they are available. In the past two months I have had four different reporters scope an expedite for me including a same-day expedite and a daily expedite. And you know what? All four of them refused to send me an invoice. When I told them to send me their invoice, they said no, they did it as a favor. OMG! Wow!
I am not a cheapskate. I pay my scopists fairly. Their regular rate is in line with what other reporters pay theirs. I pay more for video depos. I pay more for expedited turnaround. But what I cannot understand is what seems to be the nickel and diming for every extra add-on that you can come up with. We are still in a time of very low page rates overall after reporter page rates have been reduced, and yet scopist rates keep climbing. I mean if I were to have a daily expedite on a video depo with a DNA expert scientist with attorneys who constantly fought during the depo, after I paid the scopist I could be potentially making less than the scopist with some agencies' page rates. How is that possible or even fair?
I was even more astonished to see this morning where one scopist, in particular, advocates that it is not a scopist's responsibility to research terms that a reporter does not get at the job or to do index pages and cover sheets. Just wow. When I was in court reporting school, I scoped to pay my way. I did all of the reporters' cover sheets and index pages. I researched all terms for them, and that was before the Internet, which makes it a breeze now. As a reporter I don't ask my scopists to do my cover pages because I work for so many different agencies and they're all different. But for those reporters on staff or in court, I don't understand this. And there are many times you just don't get a spelling at the job. No one knows or cares or wants to stay and spell sometimes. It has to be researched. On the jobs that were just scoped for me by the reporters, they sent me back spellings they found from Googling and offered to do the cover sheets. All of this without me even asking or expecting it.
I would never hire a scopist based on the blind email solicitations I get especially with some of the rate sheets I've seen accompany them. The only way I hire is by word of mouth from other reporters I know who have used a scopist. And that word of mouth recommendation is based on the quality of work and fairness of rates. So many seem to be pricing themselves out of the market with ridiculously high base rates and add-ons ad infinitum. Compared to when I was a scopist, today scopists are doing less and want to be paid more.
I'm sure I'll get attacked now and get a bunch of replies defending the absurd rates I see, but I just felt compelled to say something after experiencing the kindness of a few reporters who scoped just to help me out and didn't charge me a thing. No, I don't expect to pay nothing for every job I have scoped, but I just found it particlarly telling to see one end of the spectrum and the other all at once as I search for a new scopist.
some of you have said that you ask questions of the potential new scopist, how long they have scoped, blah, blah. However after this week's nightmare of trying out 3 scopists of varying "experience" levels, I can say this. It means squat.
It's true. the rates I have gotten from some scopists are too high. I am going to try the ones I think I can afford first and then have to make judgment calls on the other stuff which means to the scopist you get less of my work. You give me a decent page rate and can actually scope, that's awesome, if you can turn it, you will get most of my work. Some stuff just doesn't need scoping, ya know?
And while this may a bit off topic -- and I was SO ANGRY yesterday I actually thought about starting a thread here - to fellow reporters, the ones who don't have a relationship with a scopist and wanting to caution them - try someone/find someone B4 you need them.
I am appalled by what I had to deal with this past week. Don't bother asking about experience, qualifications, background. Let them scope 20 pages. That should tell you everything you need to know.
And what scopists have to understand is the firm we work for takes a percentage. so we pay you off of what's left. SO that means that I am not going to give my hard earned money away to someone who can't be bothered learning the software they claim they use, looking things up, or doesn't know hot to use a spelling list....