Let’s talk about shorthand, baby!

Unlike most students at university, I thoroughly loved learning shorthand. While they were moaning, I was practicing – transcribing articles, taking down music lyrics from the radio, and – yes – taking notes at shorthand as I interviewed people for the student magazine and our degree coursework projects.

After all this I breezed through the 100-words-a-minute NCTJ exam – as anybody can if they put in a little bit of work and preparation.

This was just the start.

I came to appreciate the value of shorthand even more in my first job, an agency reporter in the South West. Still though, writing shorthand in a classroom setting is a lot different than trying to take down accurate notes in a crown court, while you’re phone is ringing (on silent, of course), your rival from a different agency is looking pleased with themselves about something or other, and you’re sweating because you’re boss wants the copy quickly.

Or while it’s raining and blowing outside, and you have to door-knock a grieving family, taking care to be subtle with your notepad.

Or in the push-and-shove of the pack at a press conference.

The list could go on. (Hungover, fingers wobbling, and taking notes over the telephone at 9am without any breakfast, anyone? Yes, any journalist will have been there).

My point is that Shorthand is essential for journalists. But more importantly, it’s essential that journalists can write shorthand well.

There’s nothing quite as embarrassing as being in the same court hearing as another reporter, seeing their *verbatim* quotes in their copy, then reading your fudged ramblings.

‘They’ve got the best line, why haven’t we got that,’ the news editor asks as you sink into your chair.

That’s why I truly believe it’s as important as possible for working journalist to have the best shorthand skills that they can manage.

Taking a quick home refresher course with one of the many great Teeline shorthand books available (cheaper than tutors or classes) is the ideal way to brush up. Or even the perfect way to start learning shorthand if you have never picked up a pen to write a Teeline outline before.

Please contact me with any questions or suggestions.


Shorthand Stan