Every year the states put together budget proposals. Every year we freelancers wait to see how the budget will affect the jobs of our official colleagues and, by extension us and the whole of our profession.
This year we heard that the NC senate had a provision in their budget to eliminate fully half of the complement of official reporters on staff in the state system. Additionally, they sought to (1) bring in contract employees and (2) add electronic recording in superior courts.
The officials were spurred to action - as were many of us on the freelance side. Letters were written, emails were sent, calls were made, and meetings were set up and attended. Passions were ignited!
While many people think that reporters in the courtroom are an unnecessary expense, anyone who has ever had a family member or loved one involved in a court case will probably say that the reporter's presence was comforting; certainly the fact that a person is there to ensure that the proceedings are taken down accurately THE FIRST TIME is very important.
Court reporters are human beings; yes, they cost money to employ, but the benefit to the system is not something to be sneered at. Reporters are hard-working individuals. They are highly skilled. They utilize up-to-date technology (ever hear of realtime?) and provide their own equipment. But most importantly, at least to my mind, they are impartial and they bring the human brain into the production of the record. A machine simply cannot do what a skilled reporter can.
Most reporters that I know LOVE what they do and don't consider what they do a "job." They consider it a profession, a career, a calling. We're passionate about what we do. And we strive to do the best we can. We know how important the written record is.
The officials aren't quite safe yet - though a grassroots effort got the officials' positions heard in the state House committee, and hopefully the compromise bill will not include any reductions in force.
I know I love what I do and I hope to continue to do it a long time; when you do what you love, it's not work.