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  • 14 May 2024 7:48 PM | Elizabeth Whitlock (Administrator)

    Our new Board officially took office at MAR Ed Day on March 16, 2024, but before I introduce that new Board, let me say thank you to the Board of 2023-2024 for your dedication and hard work this past year. You are the backbone of this Association and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart, Christopher Reho, Past President; Kim Ribaric, Vice President; Rachel Cramer, Treasurer; Tasiana Basdekis, Secretary; and Directors Stephanie Barnes, Sindie Bragg, Terri Ferris, Paula Maddern, Dana Pon, and Ziyacdah Atkinson; and Natalie Jones, student liaison.

    I am thrilled to introduce our new Board members: Christopher Reho, Past President; Dana Pon, Vice President; Rachel Cramer, Treasurer; Paula Maddern, Secretary, and Directors Stephanie Barnes, Terri Ferris, Ruth Levy, Kim Ribaric, and Taylor Smith; and Natalie Jones and Kate Flora, student liaisons.

    A significant portion of the Board convened in Moseley on April 14, 2024, for a retreat. During this gathering, we delved into the MAR Ed Day Questionnaire, the online survey, VCRA Policies and Procedures, and VCRA Bylaws. We also engaged in fruitful discussions about committee initiatives, fostered team cohesion, and enjoyed a delightful potluck lunch.

    The input from our MAR Ed Day attendees underscored their interest in VCRA's focus areas, which include student recruitment, educating legal professionals about the court reporter shortage and our profession's value, and concern about artificial intelligence. Rest assured, we are committed to keeping you informed about the impact of artificial intelligence on our profession and what we can do about it.

    Our Board team collaborated and generated some innovative ideas surrounding these important topics. So, as we navigate the upcoming year, expect a plethora of opportunities for member engagement as our Board continues to generate and develop ways to further these areas of interest. Keep an eye on your inbox for updates and where we will need your help.

    Following our fruitful discussion, the Board collectively prioritized student recruitment. We will continue to collect and maintain an inventory of steno machines to loan to students for the A to Z program across the Commonwealth. If you have a machine you’re no longer using and want to donate it to the A to Z program, please reach out to me. (We have had three loaner requests from potential students in Northern Virginia alone this past week). The word is getting out there!

    We will aim to inspire high school students and career seekers to join our profession by creating events to showcase our profession, as well as engage with schools and vocational institutions. This includes our participation in the Virginia School Counselor Association event in Hampton from October 19-21, 2025. Vice President Dana Pon will spearhead our efforts at the VSCA event and will seek assistance from local members. We've secured a vendor table already in a great location at the Embassy Suites, and we foresee very meaningful interactions with school counselors across the Commonwealth.

    Last but not least, mark your calendars. During the last few months, the Convention Committee has met several times, and with Board consultation, and based on feedback from MAR Ed Day and the online survey, we have decided to host the 2025 3-day Convention in Washington, D.C. Stay tuned for further details about booking your stay at the Yotel Washington D.C. from March 21-23, 2025. We've secured an exceptional room rate and timed the event perfectly for the cherry blossom season.

    The journey ahead is filled with promise, and we are eager to embark on it together with you.

    Michele Eddy, RPR, CRR, CRI, CCR


  • 15 Feb 2024 10:33 PM | Christopher Reho (Administrator)

    To view a PDF version, please click here.

  • 15 Jan 2024 6:04 PM | Christopher Reho (Administrator)

    As the days grow shorter and a crisp chill fills the air, the world undergoes a magical transformation into a winter wonderland. Winter, often misunderstood as a season of cold and darkness, is a time of unparalleled beauty and inspiration. It's a season that invites us to slow down, appreciate the simple joys, and discover the wonders that lie beneath the frosty surface.

    One of the most enchanting aspects of winter is the transformation of the landscape. A blanket of snow turns ordinary scenes into extraordinary vistas in some areas of our state, covering everything in a soft, shimmering white. Trees, once bare, now wear intricate coats of frost, turning the world into a canvas painted by nature's own hand. The sparkle of ice on branches and the crunch of snow underfoot create a symphony of sensations that awaken our senses to the beauty that surrounds us.

    Winter is also a season of contrasts. The stillness of a snowy landscape is juxtaposed with the vibrant hues of winter sunsets, casting a warm, golden glow across the horizon. The world seems to hold its breath, inviting us to pause and marvel at the breathtaking spectacle unfolding before our eyes. It's a reminder that even in the coldest of times, there is beauty waiting to be discovered.

    For me, the best part of the wonders of winter extends beyond the visual realm. It's a time for cozy gatherings, where the warmth of shared moments melts away the chill of the outside world. Whether it's sipping hot cocoa by the fireplace, exchanging stories with loved ones, or simply enjoying the quietude of the season, winter fosters a sense of togetherness that warms the heart.

    Embracing winter also means embracing activities that are unique to the season. From the exhilaration of gliding down snow-covered slopes on skis or a snowboard to the joy of building a snowman in the backyard, winter offers a plethora of opportunities for outdoor adventure. The crisp air invigorates both body and mind, encouraging us to stay active and appreciate the invigorating feeling of cold air against our cheeks.

    Furthermore, winter encourages reflection and introspection. The world may appear dormant, but beneath the surface, nature is preparing for the rebirth that spring will bring. Similarly, winter invites us to turn inward, assess our goals, and make space for personal growth. It's a season to hibernate not only physically but also emotionally—to recharge and emerge stronger, just like nature does with the arrival of spring.

    In the tapestry of seasons, winter is a thread that adds depth and richness to the overall narrative of life. It teaches us resilience, patience, and the art of finding beauty in simplicity. So, as winter wraps its frosty arms around the world, let us open our hearts to its wonders. Embrace the magic of winter, and you may find that it's not a season to endure but a season to celebrate—a season that reveals the extraordinary in the ordinary and the beauty in the cold. I would challenge you to look inward, assess your goals, and recharge by including in your goals daily practice time of new briefs and set your sights on learning something new about your software by attending a February Court and Captioning Week free software training session we plan on offering. Look for more details in this newsletter.

    In addition, please be sure to attend MAR Ed Day on March 16, 2023, for a fun-filled day of learning. Our keynote speaker Matthew Jones will inspire, encourage, and motivate us. From Matt’s story and the many lessons he learned from conquering cancer three times and completing a marathon on every continent after relearning how to walk, we will: a) Discover one of the most important and easiest ways to reduce anxiety and increase resilience; b) Learn the three choices to develop a Marathon Mindset of Victory; c) Experience revitalization for Court Reporting and Life.

    I can’t wait to see you all in a software training session in February and at MAR Ed Day in March 2024.

    Michele Eddy, RPR, CRR, CRI, CCR


  • 15 Oct 2023 9:58 PM | Christopher Reho (Administrator)

    In the world of legal proceedings, our role as court reporters often goes unnoticed, working silently behind the scenes to ensure that justice is served. Yet, it's essential to remember that our work is the cornerstone of a just and transparent legal system. As we continue to face challenges and embrace change, let us draw inspiration from our own journeys as court reporters in Virginia.

    Every one of us has a unique story, a testament to our perseverance and dedication to our profession. Our paths may have been different, but they all share a common thread – the unwavering commitment to excellence.

    Embracing the Challenges:

    From the moment we began our journey as court reporters, we knew it was not going to be an easy path. The demands of the job, the technical intricacies, and the pressure to deliver accurate and timely transcripts could be overwhelming. However, we didn't let these challenges deter us. Instead, we faced them head-on, determined to overcome every obstacle.

    Learning and Growing:

    Our profession is dynamic, constantly evolving with technological advancements and changing legal landscapes. To stay relevant, we've had to adapt and embrace new tools and techniques. Learning stenography or mastering voice recognition software may have seemed daunting at first, but we persevered. We took courses, attended workshops, and continuously honed our skills. And in doing so, we demonstrated our resilience and determination.

    Supporting Each Other:

    In the Virginia Court Reporters Association, we've found a community of like-minded professionals who share our passion for the craft. We've relied on each other for support, guidance, and inspiration. Through networking events, conferences, and mentorship programs, we've strengthened our bonds and encouraged each other to reach new heights.

    Celebrating Success:

    Our journey has been filled with countless small victories. Each time we delivered a flawless transcript, passed a certification exam, or successfully navigated a highstress courtroom situation, we celebrated those moments. It's these small successes that have fueled our passion and kept us moving forward, even when the road was tough.

    Inspire Future Generations:

    As seasoned court reporters, we have a responsibility to inspire the next generation of professionals. Let's share our stories, our experiences, and our

    wisdom with those who are just beginning their journey. By mentoring and guiding them, we can ensure that our profession continues to thrive and uphold the values of justice and transparency.

    In conclusion, in the world of court reporting, persistence is not just a virtue; it's a necessity. Our profession demands it, and we've proven time and again that we have what it takes to succeed. Our journey as Virginia court reporters is a testament to our dedication, adaptability, and resilience. Let's continue to draw inspiration from our own stories and use them as a source of strength as we navigate the ever-changing legal landscape.

    Thank you for being a part of this remarkable profession. Together, we will continue to uphold the highest standards of excellence and ensure that justice is served.

    Get Involved:

    Lastly, get involved – give back to your profession – and reap the benefits. We need each of you to keep our profession alive and well. Mentor a

    student, get involved in committee work, give back to your community by participating on Veterans Day in our Veterans History Project. Give a little and get back a lot. When you give back, you will be rewarded with a sense of satisfaction like nothing else. I feel that satisfaction as I lead your association as President. It’s rewarding, and I appreciate all that have given me great support these last six months, most especially the Board, Donna Linton, Carol Naughton, and Leslie Etheredge.


    Michele Eddy, RPR, CRR, CRI, CCR

  • 13 Jul 2023 12:36 PM | Christopher Reho (Administrator)

    Dear fellow stenographers and voice writers,

    As technology continues to reshape the landscape of our profession, we find ourselves at a critical juncture. The rise of digital recordings and artificial intelligence (AI) in the legal field poses challenges to our traditional role as court reporters. However, let us not view this as a threat but as an opportunity to showcase our unique value and engage with the legal community in an interactive and productive way. In this ever-changing landscape, it is imperative that we continue to hone our skills and adapt to the evolving demands of the industry. Embracing change does not mean relinquishing our expertise; it means harnessing the power of technology to enhance our abilities and expand our reach. Let us embark on this journey together, inspired to educate lawyers and judges about the pitfalls of digital recordings and AI, and showcase our superior skills.

    1. Embrace Lifelong Learning

    In a world driven by technological advancements, continuous learning is essential for professional growth. Seek out opportunities to enhance your skills, whether it's attending tech trainings, participating in webinars, or exploring new software and tools. In addition, familiarize yourself with AI technologies, understanding their limitations and potential impact on our profession. By staying informed and adaptable, we position ourselves as informed ambassadors of our craft.

    2. Engage and Educate

    The legal community may not be fully aware of the pitfalls of digital recordings and AI in capturing accurate records. Take the initiative to reach out and educate lawyers and judges about the distinct advantages of human stenography while you are on the job. Use real-life examples and case studies to illustrate the crucial role stenographers play in ensuring accurate and reliable records. Case studies and information about DR pitfalls can be found here through NCRA’s Strong Committee: https://www.ncra.org/home/get-involved/ncra-strong---home/ncra-strong-resource-library.

    I would suggest as well that we offer to conduct informational sessions, workshops, or seminars to enlighten the legal field about the nuances and complexities that digital recordings may miss. If this is not your forte, it’s mine, as well as others on your Board. Inform, offer, and then invite us to conduct such informational sessions if you are not comfortable, but we need you to make the initial contact and offer. Educating the legal profession will be invaluable to successfully stay relevant and at the forefront of our profession.

    3. Showcase Your Expertise

    As ambassadors of our profession, it is vital to highlight our unique value proposition. Demonstrate your expertise and unrivaled accuracy by providing samples of your work, showcasing the level of detail and precision that digital recordings cannot match. Share success stories and testimonials from legal professionals who have experienced the undeniable advantages of having a skilled stenographer present during proceedings. By exemplifying our abilities, we instill confidence in the legal community and encourage them to seek our services.

    4. Collaborate and Innovate

    In this era of technological convergence, let us not be isolated but seek knowledge we need to stay relevant and educated. Together, we can explore innovative solutions that integrate technology into our workflow while preserving the essence of court reporting. Let us consider engaging in constructive dialogue, sharing insights and ideas that promote efficiency, accuracy, and the seamless integration of AI technologies into our practice. Let’s do this as a cohesive body and not a divided body. I believe we must re-invent and re-define ourselves as we envision our future and embrace and incorporate new technology. Let us not let technology define our roles as court reporters. It surely will if we do not take the initiative to do it ourselves. I am calling for a volunteer to spearhead this endeavor. We cannot miss this opportunity to take the wheel and steer our future course or we will be stuck in reverse.

    5. Emphasize the Human Touch

    While AI may excel in certain tasks, it lacks the human touch that is essential in the deposition room, courtroom, or classroom. We need to highlight the value of ourselves as human stenographers in capturing not just words, but emotions, pauses, and non-verbal cues that can significantly impact legal proceedings. Let us emphasize the importance of our adaptability, professionalism, and ability to handle multiple tasks simultaneously. Showcasing our irreplaceable presence and expertise reinforces the need for human court reporters in an increasingly automated world.

    Fellow colleagues, let us embrace this new era with confidence and resilience. By honing our skills, engaging with the legal community, and leveraging the power of technology, we can ensure our continued relevance and indispensability. Together, let us navigate these uncharted waters, united in our commitment to preserving the integrity and accuracy of the legal record.

    Stay inspired, stay connected, and let your voices be heard.

    Please contact me at micheleeddy@gmail.com to discuss further this initiative to educate the legal profession. We need your help to take this initiative to a higher level.


    Michele Eddy, RPR, CRR, CRI, CCR

  • 15 May 2023 6:11 AM | Christopher Reho (Administrator)

    At the board meeting on May 13, 2023, the VCRA Board of Directors voted to appoint Stephanie Barnes to an open director slot on the board. She will serve the remainder of the term as a director pro tempore.  This gives us the maximum six directors, allowing us to better serve our members.

    My name is Stephanie Barnes. I have been a freelance reporter in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area for about six years now. I have done everything from depositions, Senate Committee hearings, trials, arbitrations, and school board meetings. I also have experience working for InnoCaption as a captioner. So far, I would say captioning was immensely rewarding, especially as I captioned during the height of COVID, and in my own way, helped many stay connected. My passion, though, is depositions.

    Since being a freelance reporter, I have had two amazing children, who are now one and three. Freelance has allowed me the opportunity to both pursue my passion and raise my small babies, which I am eternally grateful for.

    I look forward to serving on the board and bringing whatever expertise and assistance is needed. This career holds a special spot in my heart, and I look forward to promoting the profession in any way I can.

  • 3 May 2023 8:30 AM | Christopher Reho (Administrator)

    At the board meeting on April 29, 2023, the VCRA Board of Directors voted to appoint MaryTheresa Ferris, RPR, to an open director slot on the board.  She will serve the remainder of the term as a director pro tempore.

    MaryTheresa “Terri” Ferris, RPR (Roanoke, Virginia)

    I have been a freelance reporter for almost 40 years, most of that time in Roanoke, Virginia, and the surrounding area.  I graduated from Youngstown State University’s court/conference reporting program with an associate degree.   I then started my reporting career in Akron, Ohio before marrying my husband Ray and moving to Roanoke.

    I have loved being a freelance reporter, as it has enabled me to work and raise my family with the freedom of setting my own schedule.

    I look forward to serving on the VCRA board and getting involved in helping promote and encourage others to join this very rewarding profession. 

    In my spare time I like to read and travel.  I especially enjoy entertaining and spending time with my family and friends.

  • 20 Apr 2023 1:27 PM | Christopher Reho (Administrator)

    What comes to mind when you read the title of my first President’s Message?  Artificial intelligence and digital recorders replacing stenographers? 

    Have you heard the news that the Stenograph MaxScribe product can now realtime?  MaxScribe is Stenograph’s artificial intelligence software.  This is the advertisement taken directly from Stenograph’s website:

    MAXScribe is a new product from Stenograph which is designed for the digital court reporting and legal transcription industry. It combines multi-channel or single-channel audio with our industry-leading knowledge of editing tools specialized for efficient editing and transcript creation, increasing the number of pages that can be produced per hour by up to 50%.

    Unlike the competition, it is the only software that provides multi-channel recording, annotation, Phoenix ASR engine, and advanced editing features within a single application, providing the complete solution for digital reporters, transcribers, and agencies from recording to production. By using MAXScribe, certified digital reporters can double their earnings and certified transcribers can increase their efficiency by up to 50%.

    Multi-channel recording, annotations, realtime streaming, editing and layout, combined with the integration with Stenograph’s CaseViewNet®, RealTeam™, and YesLaw® make MAXScribe a true end-to-end solution for digital reporters. 

    AutoScript is another such software by VoiceScript.  From their website they tout: “Advanced legal speech recognition online platform and powerful desktop editing tool leveraging the latest breakthroughs in AI technologies to produce high-quality transcripts.”

    Sindie Bragg, VCRA Director, spoke at VCRA’s MAR Ed Day on March 18, 2023, about AutoScript.  She personally tested out this product against a digital recording from one of her proceedings in federal court.  She said, “It’s pretty accurate.”

    Now, after reading about MAXScribe and AutoScript, I want to share this article by a company called Calloquy.  I am only publishing a portion of it here and have permission to do so:  Alex Murdaugh Transcript Snafu Gives New Regard for (Human) Court Reporters’ Reliability by Calloquy, Feb 28, 2023.

    In a trial evocative of a Shakespearean tragedy, when Circuit Court Judge Clifton B. Newman, presiding over the murder trial of Alex Murdaugh, sought to ascertain the “why” of how a prior day’s trial transcript was, as Defense Attorney Dick Harpootlian described it, a “deficit product” and “not of much use,” the wherefore was astonishingly simple: a human court reporter did not produce it.

    The transcript, riddled with incorrect testimony or omissions from the day’s testimony and replaced with designations of “inaudible,” was produced by a company using a digital recorder and not a licensed court reporter. South Carolina court reporter and Grand Strand Young Professional of the Year, Lauren A. Balogh, RPR, said with regard to the Murdaugh snafu, “This is truly another example of why digital reporting should not have a place in the courtroom. The importance of using an NCRA [National Court Reporters Association] certified court reporter is critical in order to maintain the integrity and accuracy of a transcript.”

    The NCRA maintains a partial list of other such digital failures available here (https://www.thejcr.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/Failure-Doc-Edited_February_11_2023.pdf). Link to video:  https://www.thejcr.com/2023/02/13/digital-failure-noted-in-major-south-carolina-trial/

    There are two common elements to these two articles:  Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR).  Our CAT softwares--ProCat, DigitalCat, Eclipse, Case Catalyst--all use AI when providing instant brief suggestions, for instance.  The latest version of Eclipse is touting it can fill in the words a stenographer drops.  A couple of my colleagues have said they’ve tried it out and it’s not accurate, but it exists and will improve by learning as you use it, according to the software vendors.

    The court reporting landscape is changing rapidly.  AI has been here for some time, but now reporting schools that only used to offer steno programs are now offering digital recording programs.  Software companies that used to only provide steno products are now providing digital recording products. 

    I dare you to Google what is digital court reporting to see what pops up - what the normal consumer will find on the web.  It’s not just one or two companies offering digital services; it is many!  It is everywhere we turn.

    We can’t deny there is a shortage of stenographers and voice writers.  There are firms across the United States who have no choice but to turn to digital recording to cover their calendars.  What does that mean for our profession?  It means our competition, digital recording, is in demand, is 100x stronger than it was only a few years ago.  I wholeheartedly believe stenography and voice writing is in high demand as well.  Will we be replaced?  I do not believe so. 

    However, when a client (an attorney) decides who to hire, a digital recorder or a stenographer or a voice writer, what is their decision based on?  That is a question each of us needs to answer based on where we live.  It may be based on price.  It may be based on “no choice” because that’s the only offering.  It may be based on a personal relationship or personal preference from personal experience.

    Please ask yourself: What sets me above my competition?  If you’re a stenographer, your fellow stenographers are your competitors, but so are your fellow voice writers and digital recorders. 

    You have heard me say this before if you know me well:  Realtime will set you apart from the rest.  I know many areas of Virginia do not use real time, but are you writing as a real-time reporter?  I believe this will set you apart.  It will also help you produce your transcripts faster, giving you more time to do the things you love to do.

    Don’t wait to become a better voice writer or a better real-time stenographer.  Start now.  Start today.  Practice briefs every day and improve your skills.  I know from experience that that consistent, daily, “focused” practice will produce results.  You can become a real-time voice writer or stenographer if you start today and consistently work on your skills.  You must set yourself apart or you will get lost in the changing landscape within which we live.  

    Let me end this article by taking a few moments to outline the goals I am hoping to lead the Board of VCRA to accomplish this year.  After our survey goes out and I hear from you, our membership, what you feel is important for VCRA to focus on, these goals may be tweaked:

    1. Promoting stenography and voice writing by: (i) Contacting high schools and promoting A to Z or Project Steno program, as well as the “Intro to Voice Writing” program that’s currently being created by NVRA; (ii) getting creative with social media, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.
    2. Educating the legal profession about the pitfalls of digital reporting and AI.
    3. Offering mini legislative bootcamps for our members to learn the importance of being involved with their legislators.
    4. Offering seminars to improve your stenography or voice writing skills.

    Michele E. Eddy, CCR, RPR, CRR, CRI, Certified Realtime Systems Administrator

    VCRA President

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