REALLY HARD TIME BEING A NEW REPORTER

I have been having a really hard time being a new reporter I KEEP SCREWING UP and trying my hardest not to mess up but the more i try harder and more I mess up. Today I misread the time for a hearing and was late, now my firm is really upset with me and I can't blame them. But I'm sure they're sick of my excuses but I'm really am trying. Maybe some of you reporters out there who have been doing it longer can tell me if you have made repeared mistakes being a new reporter or a seasoned reporter... I would really like to hear what some of you have to say maybe it will help me from feeling so down.

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Comment by Tamika Burnette on December 19, 2009 at 17:55
I am a seasoned reporter with over 13 years of experience, and let me be the first to welcome you into the court reporting world. Oh, my goodness. I'm exhausted even beginning to tell you what a court reporter endures, and how it seems to get worse and worse to where you're ready to quit, because you start asking yourself, am I really good enough? The answer is, yes, you are. But firm owners and seasoned reporters are going to make you feel like you're not, because getting out of school is just the first step. Being a reporter is the next step that's going to take awhile to get a handle on. So let me just give you a few quick tips:

1. Plan to leave out an hour early before your job, really two hours if you don't know the area or you know traffic will be heavy. It's always better to be early than late, and it's easy to get behind, when you were ahead, real quick.

2. Hire a proofreader, really a scopist when you first get out. Hire a good scopist, top of the line, because they're not all good either. And the reason why you're hiring a scopist, and money is not an issue or option, is because when you first get out, you'd be surprised how easy it is to screw up a transcript and ruin your name, which will heal, early on in the process. With a scopist, they're more familiar and probably have been doing it longer than you. So they're familiar with words, terminiology and researching things that needs to be researched. Then you go over it and pay close attention, and listen to the audio again yourself, so you can see what the scopist is doing, and if there's anything he or she missed, then you'll catch it.

So what I'm saying is althoughh most reporters don't want to pay a scopist, that;s the best investment a reporter can make. Otherwise, you'll have no life, over worked, stressed out with a bad name, because while you're stuck fixing this one transcript, the other five are becoming due.

All reporters went through it. You have to take your time and be on time in order to be successful. Experience is the best teacher, but get some help along the way, because it's easier than not to destroy yourself and questioning your skills, but there's nothing wrong with you. Listen to your audio twice until you're so experienced that you've done these kinds of jobs so many times that you automatically know what it says. After you listen to your audio twice, you'll see yourself things that you'd be wondering, how you didn't catch that.

If you need any advise or help getting through this new reporter thing, just let me know. I'd be more than happy to assist. A lot of us act like we haven't been through it, but most all of us have, which is why we have court reporting friends and are members of CSR nation, so we're connected with reporters and can ask for help or advice in areas that one may have already experienced.

Good luck!!
Comment by Charyna Lashley on December 19, 2009 at 15:15
I am not a seasoned reporter, yet. I am still in school, so I haven't walked in your shoes as a reporter. However, I have in many other areas of my life. I will say the old saying, "Relax. Relate. Release." Take your time, concentrate on the moment, the here and now; not on avoiding mistakes.

You sound so nervous and worried about making mistakes. Focus on the task at hand. Inhale the good and exhale the bad. It will all work out. As my mama always said, "This too shall pass." Experience is a good teacher, learn from it and move on. God blesses us with a new day to start fresh. Just know that you will be fine.

Oh, it just came to me. Remember all the tests you didn't pass before you became a reporter? Well, that time has come and gone and you made it through. You kept pushing through all the mistakes and each time you got a new day to get you where you are, successful. :)
Comment by Ryan on December 13, 2009 at 20:07
Although I can't offer advice as a seasoned reporter (Man, I wish I were one heheh,) I can offer recommendations on what I did during school. Everytime I had a bad day in 225's, which was all the time, I always went back to my desk, relaxed and instilled confidence in myself that I've gotten this far by training myself and learning from mistakes. If you're late, turn back the clock and set it on the most annoying tone or music you've ever heard. When I do that, I just have to turn it off for the sake of not hearing it anymore! Good Luck to you, and I'm sure you'll do great.
Comment by Katiana Ball on December 4, 2009 at 15:48
I just wanted to let you know, my first year of reporting was the worstttt. i cried almost every day, I lost so much weight because I had no appetite due to being so nervous. I even started losing hair!!! I thought I would get fired and forever be banned from the court reporting industry. it was crazy, but now i look back and I was a drama queen. lol. I also realized that if I were more organized I wouldn't have half the problems I had (like losing exhibits or being late.)

it will get better. no one starts off perfect. <3 some (like you and me) have to work hard. <3
Comment by Glen Warner on December 4, 2009 at 11:27
Hi, Rachel.

As I'm not a working reporter (or even a non-working reporter), I can't offer much in the way of advice ... but I can offer some advice on organization ... and that advice is get yourself an Apple Newton MessagePad 2100.

I use mine daily: Alarm clock, reminder for stuff I need to do, birthdays I need to acknowledge (with a "no strings, no attachments, and no gifts" Happy Birthday e-mail), etc.

Even though this device is 20 years old, it still has an active developer community ... which is one reason it works with Google Calendar.

Can't hurt to have one of these ...!

Good luck out there, Rachel. I'm sure you'll do fine.
Comment by Mary Jo Cochran on December 4, 2009 at 11:15
Rachel, you probably never used your Outlook Calendar. As a legal assistant, that is the most valuable tool we have. Put EVERYTHING on your Outlook Calendar. Besides an appointment and time, you also get a big box to put all your info. You can also download documents into that box. Check your calendar often. Set up a system for it. Also use the REMINDER. You can set it for date and time.
Comment by Rachel Mcroy on December 4, 2009 at 8:17
Thanks to every one that gave me some input it really helped on things I wasn't even aware of and it's so nice to know I'm not alone in this because, as you know, court reporting is not an office job where you can talk to one another every day. With that said, I believe my question was probably a little vague. I have a really awesome scopist and proofer who helped all the way and without them I would have lost a lot of hair. My problem isn't with speed, I was always one of the fastest in my school, but with much thought I believe my problem is with the small details. I believe I'm so wrapped up in the transcript itself -- making sure all the punctuation, spells, by lines, all that good stuff is in order and as correct as I can possibly make it -- which of course is one of the most crucial parts of our job that I have been overlooking the small things such as not reading my notices carefully enough and slight errors on the appearance page and things of that nature. I am working and striving to correct those now. My firm is wonderful and helps me as much as they possibly can with putting me on the books and/or taking me off.
It's very hard to make mistakes because for me this is not a job it's a career and I do not want to be anything other than a court reporter and all I want is perfection on every job that I do. The small overlooks is what is causing all my stress, I'm going to take everyone's advice and I am going to go everything write it down, highlight it, repeat it 50 times if I have too. :)
Comment by Mary Jo Cochran on December 4, 2009 at 6:00
Rachel. Florida is notorious for bad court reporting programs. When I moved here in 1981 there were 13 court reporting schools in the Tampa area, touting 18 month programs. That says plenty.

I went to school in Michigan, tough program, had my RPR before I graduated. I worked for ten years. I am now retraining. I am hitting 225. I'm doing 210 quite well. Until I can read my notes at 225 with clarity, I'm not looking for a job. Granted, I got a crappy writer, but I can't blame the writer completely.

Everything works in sync. Practice an hour every day. Get RealtimeCoach. Do something different each day. Read back with someone listening. Get an organizer, keep all your scheduling stuff calendared, including when things are due. Others said, check mapquest, double your driving time, get there early. Wear comfortable clothes. Take a tape recorder.
Comment by Judy on December 3, 2009 at 18:01
Rachel,

I noticed you're in Florida. It's my understanding that Florida has no CSR/RPR requirements. My question may seem a bit harsh -- and I apologize for that in advance -- but are you sure you're ready? Maybe you're overwhelmed and messing up because you've jumped in too fast, or at least too much too fast.

Is it just procedural issues that's getting you rattled or are the jobs too difficult and you're finding that you're spending too much time with the audio instead of just being able to scope it? If that's the case, you may need to increase your speed before you take more work.

Is it the software that's getting you down? Maybe get a tutorial or a group class on your software so you can use to learn its features to your advantage.

As far as misreading times, when you get your assignment, highlight the date, time, and location. Personally, I've always doubled my driving time. If mapquest says 30 minutes, I leave 60 minutes before. It it says 1 hour, I leave 2 hours before. The worst that can happen is you get there so early that you stop for a cup of coffee or a bite to eat (and eating will calm your nerves!). When you get the assignment, acknowledge those three things (date, time, location). Before you go to bed, acknowledge the same three things. When you wake up, acknowledge those same three things.

Are you sleeping? Maybe restless nights are keeping you from doing your best. Try taking a Tylenol PM or something light like that that'll help you doze off and possibly keep you asleep for 6 solid hours. But do NOT go overboard and take something that'll keep you knocked out the whole day. No partying or late nights on "work nights" are I'm sure something you already know.

And when you give the agency excuses, is it for things they already know about? Honesty is good, but sometimes too much info can hurt you too. They possibly didn't need to know that you got there on the nick of time (as long as the firm didn't call up looking for you). Be careful about what you're telling them. You're a professional, so be professional and hire the required professionals to get your job done correctly: scopists and proofreaders. I can recommend a couple of wonderful proofreaders (not so much on the scoping end, though).
Comment by Heather Coiner on December 3, 2009 at 9:44
Janiece,
I love the readback advice. I am so nervous when it comes to readback. I hear different opinions about reporters even letting anyone know that they are recording the testimony. Do you ever have any attorneys give you a hard time for doing that?

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