The 2014 National Court Reporter Competition pitted a new style of stenography against a more traditional approach. The annual contest, held this year in San Francisco as part of the National Court Reporting Association’s Convention & Expo, is the pinnacle of the nation’s largest annual gathering of court reporters.
The competition this year was especially fierce. Front runner Mark Kislingbury, who has been called the Michael Jordan of court reporting, holds the world speed record in court reporting with a transcription rate of 360 words a minute. Fifty-one year old Kislingbury credits his speed to the new style of stenography he developed, which minimizes the number of keystrokes by using a vast array of shortcuts for words and phrases. He promotes his new method of court reporting with books and courses at his own court-reporting academy, making Kislingbury arguably the most famous court reporter in the country.
Kislingbury’s most stringent opponent was Jo Anne Bryce. Bryce has been a court reporter for 39 years and currently works for the San Francisco Federal Court. She favors the more traditional style used by most court reporters who type out words phonetically. The 59 year old Bryce participates in these competitions for fun, and just maybe some bragging rights.
Coming into this year’s competition, both Kislingbury and Bryce had each won four real-time championships. They had both set records for number of wins in the contest in which competitors must produce the most accurate transcript without any editing. Although they both had the same number of wins in this contest, Kislingbury is the most decorated court reporter, having won seven additional speed competitions.
In the end, Jo Anne Bryce and her traditional court reporting style won. She was not only victorious in the real-time competition, but also the speed and several other contests, winning five goal medals overall. She scored nearly 100% accuracy in the real-time contest, which she typed at 280 words per minute. The speed really comes into focus when you compare that to the average American’s typing speed of 40 words per minute. Of course, Bryce used shortcuts, as all court reporters do, but her style does not lend itself to as many as Kislingbury’s does. At the award ceremony Bryce, a well-respected but “every man” court reporter, received a standing ovation as she accepted the five medals and two trophies she earned.
Surprisingly, Kislingbury and his “modern” style finished seventh in the real-time competition. He disputed the outcome, saying that the graders erroneously found errors in his work. Even though Kislingbury himself did not place in the competition, some of the top finishers were students of his method. Kislingbury did not compete in the speed contests.
This year the traditional style won out over Kislingbury’s newer method but that does not mean that it will stay that way. Kislingbury likens the traditional method to “running a marathon while wearing a backpack: Some great runners might be able to do it, but most cannot.” Conversely, Bryce and millions of others like her use that tried and true method day in and day out. Bryce proved that she is one of the elite who not only can run that “backpack marathon” but can do so five times in a row.
Only the future will tell which method will win out in the end. But in the 2014 court reporter battle royale, the traditional method scored a victory.
Diamond Court Reporting & Videography would like to congratulate Jo Anne Bryce and all of the competitors in the 2014 National Court Reporting Competitions.