We’re shining our spotlight on an amazing court reporter from sunny Florida. Ninette Butler, RPR, CRR, CRC, RSA, FPR, CCR (GA), FCRA Director at Large, shares some great advice and tells us more about her career. Thank you for sharing your stenography journey, Ninette! We’re proud to serve you.
How long have you been a court reporter or captioner? I graduated court reporting school in 1994. After reporting for ten years, I took a nine-year hiatus to raise my two children. I had to regain all my certifications when I came back!
What led you to a career in stenography? My Aunt Sylvia has a housecleaning service in Los Angeles. One of her clients was a court reporter. She told me about how lucrative the career was. I interviewed at Merit College (now closed) in Van Nuys, CA, and realized I could attend right after high school. Best decision I ever made! Thank you, Tia!
What is the most rewarding part of your career? I love being a stenographer because I love the challenge. I heard a wise saying once: In order to be successful, pick one thing and be really good at it. I challenge myself daily to be better at my career than I was the day before. From increasing my speed to capture those fast talkers and crush those readbacks, to increasing my accuracy so I can write better in real time, to working with my editing team to streamline our grammar and punctuation style, to beating our turnaround time on daily copy without sacrificing quality. The journey to conquering these challenges has been very rewarding.
What advice would you give a prospective student looking to enter the profession? Master the theory for this is your foundation. Read your notes after the first dictation drill at an attainable speed. Check for accuracy, dictionary building, and briefing. Then practice that same dictation at higher and higher speeds for speed building. Before you know it, you will be at 225 wpm, writing accurately and ready for realtime.
What was the best job you’ve ever taken or show you’ve captioned? I was commissioned by the United States government to report depositions in Bali, Indonesia. We were scheduled to take depos all week. However, we finished in three days. I had two days to go whitewater rafting, scuba diving, and sightseeing. I sent my equipment home with the videographer and took a detour to Australia for another week.
What was the most important thing you learned in 2020? You only get one chance to make a first impression. With everything being remote, that first impression needs to be a good one because you don’t get the chance to interact like we once did pre-COVID. Your lighting, background, audio, Internet speed, camera angle, makeup, attire, and knowledge of the new technology needs to be on point.
What is the best show you watched on Netflix in 2020? Don’t laugh. Eurovision, starring Will Ferrell with a flowing blond wig, a bad Scandinavian accent, and weird European singalongs. I was rooting for him the whole time, as cringy as it was!
Do you have pets? Three dogs, seven cats, and a ball python.