Monday, June 02, 2008

The Long and Short of It

I learned shorthand when I was 19. I'm not 19 anymore. (Or even 20.) Back then they taught the Pitman method. Today Pitman is obsolete. Come to think of it, the more "modern" Gregg method is probably obsolete, too. Is shorthand even taught anymore?

Anyway, I haven't had much occasion to use shorthand over the years, even when working as a reporter. My little Olympus recorder, all of four inches long, hears everything I need to remember. But I had just barely started interviewing a woman the other day when my little Olympus recorder began blinking strange messages at me. Oblivious to my plight, the woman proceeded with her monologue as if nothing had happened. I had to recall some shorthand in a hurry.

I'm not sure how to grade my effort. I have to conclude that when using shorthand for the first time in decades, one must choose between speed and accuracy. Since my monologuette was rattling off facts without pausing for breath, I chose speed.

I covered a lot of notebook pages with the squiggles I learned at the Mary Byers School. But I discovered that translating them into a newspaper article presented a bit of a challenge. Do you have any idea what Presses for put good my you means?

Or how about this: Local man for all about direct up.

And my favorite: Getting to it some full I like thing there it.

I'm thinking of using one of these as a direct quote. I may have lost my ability to take notes in shorthand, but it's good to know I haven't lost my sense of mischief.

7 comments:

crystal said...

Maybe this is the answer to one of your earlier posts where your friend was misquoted in the paper .... shorthand :)

Susan said...

LOL Could be! Although the reporter had some sort of electronic device on her lap. A stenotype machine, maybe? :-)

Helen said...

Are you sure she didn't actually say those things? Maybe she's trying to sabotage your career.

What kind of an interview was it, aside from a somewhat surreal one? Is this something you do freelance?

Susan said...

I'm a freelance reporter, and this was a newspaper assignment. But it was more advertising than news. The woman owns a store, and she paid for an article that promoted her business. Newspapers commonly run these in a special section of the paper a couple of times a year.

You know, maybe she did say those things . . .

JHK said...

I like thing there it, too. It would make a wonderful headline.

Susan said...

LOL, JHK. I think I've seen headlines that bad in the local papers.

Jenny said...

I'm all about the little Olympus digital recorder. I am a court reporter. Recently in an all-day deposition, unbeknownst to me, my state-of-the-art Marantz digital two-track recorder stopped recording from the primary high-gain mic (it continued to record my voice repeating every word into my mask). I later transcribed over 300 pages from my little Olympus. If it had failed me that day I'm not sure what I would have done but it probably would have involved early retirement.

I don't know what that lady meant by all the things she said but I'm sure you shorthanded it word for word. Some people are just strange! She could be a Martian or something.