< 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 composite document.
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 evening.
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.