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Workshops

Introduction

After Ms. Rydel’s presentation, Ms. Schwarz-van Poppel proceeds to the following item on the agenda, the workshops. She invites everyone to discuss the questions raised in the contributions by Mr. Voutilainen and Ms. Rydel during the workshops. Ms. Patti Calabro, member of the IPRS Steering Committee, announces the four workshops that were selected on the basis of the number of enrolments: 1. Editing the transcription of spoken word. Because this topic is very popular, there are two separate groups discussing it; 2. Working conditions; 3. Quality; 4. Training.

12.30 p.m. Presentation of the results of the workshops

After a break and after the workshops, the plenary meeting continues. A representative on behalf of each group summarizes the ideas discussed during the workshop.

Group 1 (Finland, Netherlands, Poland): Editing the transcription of spoken word. Presenter: Mr. Wouter Zwijnenburg, Netherlands

All participants agreed that there should be official guidelines for editing, specifying which types of changes in the report are acceptable. Even then it remains important to always think about why we edit, because there are sometimes discussions about our work. Another topic that was discussed, is subtitling. In the Netherlands, subtitling the video broadcast or streams of parliamentary proceedings is mandatory. Can the written report be used as a means to subtitle the on-demand video archive? The group’s feeling is that the written report is very different from subtitling. For instance, in the written report words or sentences are sometimes moved to a different place. Subtitling cannot be a substitute for the written report either. Therefore, the group’s positive conclusion is that our reports will be needed for many years to come.

Group 2 (Finland, Japan, Netherlands, United Kingdom): Editing the transcription of spoken word. Presenter: Mr. Dick Boersema, Netherlands

The group discussed some of the changes that affect the reporting profession. For instance, people nowadays speak differently than in the past. They speak more like in a stream of consciousness, and this requires more editing. Another change however is that proceedings are more and more available on video, which in turn lays emphasis on the authenticity of the transcript. The participants agreed that there has been an evolution in the way of making the report. There used to be a tendency among reporters to think that they knew better. That “cowboy style” of reporting from the past is no longer current. Why should we, as reporters, decide what an MP has said? Our primary goal is to follow what the speakers say, and to be as accurate and grammatically correct as possible in transcribing it. This group also believes that the skills required to do this, will be needed for a long time yet. Not all countries represented in this group deal with wrong quotations in the same way. In the UK, as opposed to the other countries, wrong quotations are corrected in the report.

Group 3 (Czech Republic, Netherlands, Poland, South Korea, Turkey): Working conditions. Presenter: Laura van der Zande, Netherlands

The working hours in the parliaments of the countries that are represented in this group differ, yet the work pressure is high in every parliament. Reporters always have to work until the end of the sitting. All participants agree that these conditions affect their work. One solution may be the hiring of freelancers. This is done in the Dutch parliament, but the delegates from Turkey claim that it is not feasible in their parliament, because the conditions are such that the work of parliamentary stenographers cannot be done without proper training. Another solution, working in shifts, as the Dutch parliamentary reporters do, is not possible for the Czechs, because they lack the capacity.

Group 4 (Austria, Belgium, Netherlands, United Kingdom): Quality. Presenter: Mr. Jonathan Hoare, United Kingdom

What is quality in reporting? The group agreed that it has various components, such as the readability, fluency and consistency of the report, and its accuracy and faithfulness to the speech. How can quality be assured? A first important aspect is recruiting the right people for the job. The situation in Austria differs from that in the other countries in that it is difficult there to get enough applicants. Secondly, training these people in a professional way is fundamental. All participants acknowledged that technology has an increasing influence on their work as parliamentary reporters. The report is edited to some extent in all the parliaments that were represented in the group. The most literal, verbatim approach appears to be the one in the Belgian parliament, and the most edited approach the one in the Austrian parliament. To assure the consistency aspect of quality, the Dutch make use of an editor who reads all the text produced during a plenary sitting. That would probably not be feasible in the UK.

Group 5 (Argentina, Cameroon, Italy, Netherlands, United States): Training. Presenter: Mr. Herbert Houdijk, Netherlands

This group was composed of reporters using very different methods and technologies. There were voice writers and captioners from the United States, shorthand writers from Argentina and Italy, and shorthand and machine writers from Cameroon. Obviously, training for those different methods is also very diverse. Training for respeaking in the United States has evolved from informal, “kitchen table” training into more formal and professional training at schools. Respeaking demands specific skills, and voice writers are more and more developing standards for their profession. Cameroon has two languages, French and English, and both use different technology. For French, reporters use machines, for English they use pen shorthand. The staff is trained at university level. A serious problem is that it is hard to get the funds that are needed for training. In Italy, shorthand training was abandoned as a consequence of the introduction of automatic speech recognition. Training now focuses on the skills that are needed for editing the texts produced by speech recognition. Shorthand is no longer used in Dutch parliament either. Applicants for a job as a reporter who have passed the entrance test, are enrolled in an in-house trainees program.

Ms. Schwarz van Poppel thanks Ms. Kimberly Turnage and Mr. Daniël Tuijnman for the CART-services that they provided during the meeting.

1 p.m. Closing

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