Also known as a shorthand writer, CAT writer, court reporter, stenographer, STTR, Palantypist – a verbatim reporter is someone who records, by stenographic means, every word spoken in proceedings of which a record is being kept. Examples of such proceedings are court hearings, arbitrations and public inquiries, disciplinary hearings and American depositions. We should not be confused with a newspaper reporter/journalist.
What does “verbatim” mean?
The following definition of “verbatim” has been used to describe parliamentary proceedings, and is followed by many reporters:
Verbatim means word for word. If you repeat something verbatim, you say it using exactly the same words in the same order as the original statement. Repeating something verbatim should preserve the entire meaning of the original statement. “Verbatim” can also mean in some official contracts “as uttered”. Such contracts do not allow for any editing of the hearing transcripts.
The term “editing” is used at the risk of incurring the wrath of those who will claim that it is not the function of verbatim reporters to edit at all and that it is their duty, always and inexorably, to record and transcribe a speaker’s words exactly as spoken. One of the definitions of “edit” in the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary is “to set in order for publication”. A moment’s reflection will show that even matter which has to be transcribed in a strictly verbatim manner has to go through an editing process if only to the extent of being punctuated. The more one has to keep to the spoken word, the greater the skill required to reproduce the speaker’s sense by the use of punctuation.