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Shorthand: Just How Important Is It?

shorthand notes

Shorthand notes: a familiar site for trainee journalists

By Catherine Hancock (@catherineha1991)

Most trainee journalists have a difficult relationship with shorthand at some point, and I’m one of them.

With newspapers frequently gathering their material online, I often wonder: is shorthand still needed in the newsroom?

The answer seems to be YES.

News UK’s editorial development director Graham Dudman once said that a journalist without shorthand is like a footballer without boots – “it’s not going to happen”.

“It’s essential for accurate court reporting. Without it you are a potential liability to your newspaper and we don’t want you in the newsroom.”

Ok fair point. As amazing as technology is, mobile phones or laptops sometimes don’t help if you need to get something down quickly.

If something is disputed about what you have written in court, shorthand notes are often referred back to and looked at by the judge as evidence.

Accurate shorthand notes are essential and imagine trying to keep up with what people are saying in longhand? It wouldn’t work!

Another time when shorthand is handy (sorry for the pun), is when you’re doing phone interviews. Trying to quickly scribble down or type up what the other person is saying can be stressful and you could miss an important quote.

With shorthand you can sit down and read all the information you have without worrying it didn’t record properly or you’ve accidentally deleted it.

Whichever route journalism decides to take, shorthand will always be an essential tool to have.

If you’re struggling, do shorthand with a friend, take shorthand notes down to music or the news, and make sure you do a little bit everyday.

Is shorthand still important for journalists? Join the debate on Twitter @JournoGrads or on FacebookHere’s what you’ve been saying:

Amina AhmedJason Craig

Dougie BoltonAndy TriggSarah Jordan

Gaz CorfieldSam Park

 

 

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