What is the Future of the Court Reporter Profession?

In the old days, when video was still recorded on tape instead of modern solid-state devices, videotaping court proceedings seemed impractical. The amount of videotape needed to record only one court case was relatively large. Storing video was time consuming and costly, and videotape was difficult to reproduce and quick to deteriorate. It is no wonder that, though videotape was widely available in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, court proceedings were not routinely taped. But, what about now? What is the likelihood that courts in America will move to videotaped proceedings, and what will that mean for the profession of court reporting?

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In order to analyze the future of court reporting in light of modern advances in audio and video recording, it is important to remember that there is no single governing body that oversees the court reporting profession. Generally speaking, courts across the country decide how to record their proceedings on either a state or local level. This means that, while a court in one county of a state may decide to move toward digital recording of court activities, other counties in the same state may not. So much will come down to the judges or legislators that make such decisions.

Though court proceedings can be accurately recorded by digital equipment, many jurisdictions are affirming their desire to continue to use court reporters in a traditional capacity. For example, in March 2014 the Thurston County Superior Court in Washington signaled that it would continue to use stenographers to record its court proceedings. Courts in Robeson County, North Carolina made a similar declaration.

Despite the fact that courts around the country are standing behind the court reporter profession, it is important to remember that technology is changing the world, and those who fail to adapt often get left behind. Those entering into the court reporting profession are recommended to learn digital reporting skills in order to supplement their stenographic skills.