< Go Back The art of the write-out Posted: Aug 12, 2016
Gurney's was involved in one
of the more skilful types of verbatim reporting recently - the
"write-out". Write-outs are
seen less now than previously because they have been largely overtaken by
"real-time reporting". Most of
us know real-time through the news subtitling and we all know some of the
peculiar sentences which result!
Nevertheless, real-time is popular because it allows an instant update.
Gurney's frequently attended
in the Houses of Parliament and produced transcripts using the “write-out”
method. It involved a shorthand writer
sitting in the middle of the Committee room where the sound was best and "taking
a note" and then being replaced by another writer. The first writer would then go back to the
shorthand writers' room to transcribe their notes before returning for another
session in the Committee room. The
benefit was that the transcript of the Committee was available that night for
use by the MPs, the Lords and Counsel.
All of this in the days before computers! This was the method used for
all the transcripts in the Channel Tunnel inquiry. It is hard to believe now the Tunnel is built,
just how contentious the project was!
Other write-outs were for high
profile inquiries, such as the North Circular expansion and Court cases: overnight
transcripts aided the ongoing inquiry sessions or Court hearings. It involved working late into the night to
transcribe the notes which were then read for consistency of spelling, place
names, as well as being sense checked.
Finally, one senior writer would assemble all the transcripts into a
With the advent of digital
recording and real-time reporting, write-outs have become less popular but
there is still a place for them, particularly when the client requires an accurate
transcript in a very short space of time.
Not many shorthand writers and stenographers now have the speed and
accuracy of note taking which helps with the transcription. The work has to be typed back very quickly to
allow the senior member of staff sufficient time to check the transcription
thoroughly and to assemble the final document for submission to the client that
We pride ourselves that
Gurney's is one of the firms whose staff have these skills. There is a cost attached to all of this
because of the labour intensive nature of the work. It is not the sort of work that you could
undertake every day because of the relentlessness of it but we are proud that,
when required, we are able to call on years of experience and, as ever, produce
accurate transcripts within a very short space of time.