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Local

DMACC hosting activities for National Court Reporting and Captioning Week

DMACC court reporting students visit the Iowa Judicial Building and Supreme Court for a field trip in 2016.
DMACC court reporting students visit the Iowa Judicial Building and Supreme Court for a field trip in 2016.

National Court Reporting and Captioning Week kicks into gear on Saturday, and DMACC’s Newton campus will be hosting events throughout the week.

The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) sponsors the activities, which are designed to increase the public’s awareness about the growing number of employment opportunities the profession offers. The NCRA estimates about 5,500 court reporting jobs are expected to become available nationwide over the next five years.

Patti Ziegler is the court reporting department chair at DMACC. She said there are currently 11 positions open in Iowa alone, and the starting salary is $50,000.

“The jobs are there,” Ziegler said. “That said, it’s a very rigorous, very demanding program because it requires lots and lots of practice.”

Newton’s campus is the only college in the state that offers a court reporting program. There are currently about 35 students in the program, which is in its third year of operation. Students are trained to be both official and freelance court reporters.

Ziegler said perseverance, patience, good English skills and a willingness to practice are essential to becoming a great court reporter. Court Reporting and Captioning Week is an effort to get the word out about the profession and also the DMACC program. There will be an information session on Tuesday and another on Feb. 18.

“Advisors will be there to talk with (prospective students) about how to get registered if they’re interested,” Ziegler said. “They’ll see a court reporter actually writing in what we call realtime, so as the reporter writes it, it shows up on the screen in English.”

The information session will also include a panel discussion with six court reporters, who will talk about what they love about their jobs, and what they did to get through school.

Ziegler said the future of court reporting is very strong. Some court rooms in some states have tried electronic recording of trials, and it does not work very well, she said. When people talk over each other, slur their words or talk really fast, it helps to have a live court reporter sitting there who can ask for clarification.

Job opportunities are diverse, too. In addition to courtroom reporting, there is freelance reporting, where court reporters take depositions for attorneys. Television captioning is also a potential career route, which uses the same skills.

Cathy Penniston is a television captioner and a court reporting instructor at DMACC with more than 30 years of experience in the field.

“The value of the program at DMACC is great,” Penniston said. “The price is very reasonable for the students. In two years they can get out, and there are jobs all over the country waiting for the students.”

An important part of the DMACC program is the implementation of technology, Ziegler said.

“The students hook up their steno machine to a laptop that has a dictionary so that it translates into English,” she said. “It’s in realtime. I think that’s an important point to point out – we’re very much using technology every day.”

For more information and to register for the activities of Court Reporting and Captioning Week, contact the Newton DMACC campus at 641-791-3622.

Contact Justin Jagler at 641-792-3121 ext 6532 or jjagler@newtondailynews.com

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