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Court Reporters have a Front Row Seat to History
By Diana Greenburg
The job of transcribing court proceedings looks very different today than when Charles Dickens was a cub court reporter. Back in 1828, when the author took up court reporting at the age of 16, his tools of the trade were pen and paper.
But today’s court reporters have many new tools that both aid and challenge the profession.
From television and film, we’re used to the image of the court reporter quietly typing at the front of the courtroom, seen but not heard. The reporter types a kind of shorthand into a specially designed steno machine with an abbreviated keyboard, sometimes striking several keys at once to record words and phrases.The shorthand enables a much faster recording of speech, allowing the average court reporter to reach 225 words a minute — and even up to the industry record of 375.