For The Record – Why Humans Won’t Be Replaced by Digital Recordings

At Depo International, we have decades of court reporting experience. As a woman-owned and operated business, we are dedicated to mentoring women and men who want to become or are new court reporters. Often we’re asked if court reporting is a dying industry because they see articles like this one from Massachusetts where reporters are being eliminated and replaced by digital recordings like For the Record. We’re here to tell you that while the industry is changing, there are more opportunities than ever in our field.

Digital recordings won’t replace court reporters. 

At first glance, it may seem that recordings could be just as good, maybe even better, than having a live person in a courtroom but that’s not always the case. Recording equipment can malfunction, sometimes without warning, leaving a legal proceeding without a record of what happened. That can mean re-trying a case altogether and those costs can add up, especially in rural areas where resources are already stretched.

Not only are malfunctions a problem, background noise, talking over each other, low talkers (remember that episode of Seinfeld?), and needing to pause to clarify are all functions that only a human court reporter can perform. If they can’t hear what was said on a recording, it’s likely to go in the record as inaudible. If they had been present, they could have asked the speaker to repeat what was said so it could be added to the transcript.

A better option is to hire freelance court reporters who can travel from bigger cities like Minneapolis, Las Vegas, and Chicago.

This can save municipalities from having to pay salaries and benefits though over time could end up being more costly than keeping court reporters on staff. The reason is that as the demand for court reporters expands outside the courtroom to business, politics, and education settings, the cost to hire freelance reporters also increases. This is due to the court reporter shortage that is happening today and that will continue for the foreseeable future.

As an industry, we need to focus on continuing to talk about the benefits of court reporting and connect to our communities to share more about our profession. High school and college counselors, job coaches, public speaking, social media, and blogs like this one are opportunities to share your court reporter experience.

Interested in learning more? Give us a call! We’d love to share more of our story with you to help you make a career decision that’s right for you.