“I am what I am, and that’s all that I am” is Popeye’s famous line, monosyllabic and simple, but poignant. After being pushed and bullied, Popeye would eat his spinach and bring down the bad guys.
If court reporting were to make the same statement, “I am what I am,” it would beg the question, “What are you?” What is the answer? Is court reporting defined by the reporters, firms, ethics, our method of taking down the spoken word—all of the above?
Sadly enough, just like any profession, court reporting is wrought with problems. Contracting, diminishing availability of work, unethical gifting practices, false advertising, and ER reporting are just a few that top the list in the market in which I work. These are the things that I don’t want to define us.
I would urge everyone’s involvement in attacking the problems we face. We could wait for a hero to save us, whether it be our state associations or NCRA, but keep in mind, these organizations are headed by volunteers, reporters like you and me with workloads of their own. A small board of volunteers alone simply can’t tackle with efficiency the problems that we face.
I’ve been active on the online forums recently, seeking advice and exchanging ideas, and after some very tough and pointed questions, Kathy DiLorenzo opined that direct bar education is our most effective tool in combating our problems. It took some convincing that little ole me could do a better job than NCRA on these matters. After all, I am what I am, but I was eventually persuaded.
Imagine how effective our message can be when voiced by the entire membership. We reporters have far more credibility with our clients than any board or professional association could ever hope for. Working side by side with attorneys on a daily basis, we can demand much more attention for our concerns. Whether we are educating on contracting or gifting practices, we have a captive audience for a few minutes before the witness or the last attorney fills the chair. For the timid, a pamphlet or flyer could be distributed to do the talking on your behalf. I suggest we use this time to our advantage and shed some sunlight (the best disinfectant) on our hotbed issues.
Upon my introduction to the online forums, I was able to see quite clearly that the problems nationally weren’t any different than in my locale. I was inspired and motivated by the passion that my fellow posters shared on these topics. Keep the ideas coming. Keep the discussions going. Keep eating the spinach!