Which Gregg for Journalism?

When I briefly worked as a journalist a couple of years ago, at a small, regional newspaper in the midwest, I was surprised to discover that very few journalists knew how to write shorthand. I’ll be getting back into that field next fall so I thought I’d look into shorthand and give myself about eight months to get this particular Gregg shorthand method down. I started just a couple of days ago with the “Gregg Shorthand Manual Simplified” and “Gregg Shorthand, Diamond Jubilee Series, Second Edition.”
I got these books from a local community college and started practicing. Then I found the same two books online and got them for about six dollars. However, not until I found this particular MSN group, and had gone through all the posts, did I realize that the Anniversary method is the method more suited to my professsional needs. Is this correct?
If so, which books support the Anniversary manual and journalism needs in particular?
Thank you.

(by redshift0101011 for everyone)

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11 comments Add yours
  1. And now — a different view:

    As publisher of a twice-weekly newspaper (but not a reporter), I often wondered why none of the young reporters I hired in the last 20 years, J-school and liberal arts grads, knew shorthand. What happens is that most of them — and all the good ones — develop an effective, home-made alphabet-based shorthand that serves them for life.

    When my wife worked at the New York Daily News in the 60s, she said only a few old timers used conventional shorthand. Everyone else did as our young people do today – developed a personal system of abreviated longhand and got very fast by using it everyday.

    If you are interested in shorthand as an ancillary trade skill rather than an intellectual interest, you might benefit from the study of an alphabet-based shorthand system like Speedwriting.

    If you had a smattering of study there, you would likely evolve a very effective system of your own. "Effective" for a reporter isn't steno-fast, but fast enough for accurate quotes, and memory-jogging key words mostly. And good quotes come in bursts with lots of blah, blah, blah, in between as you no doubt remember.

    Also, since so much reporting is done on the phone, reporters often find it effective to take notes at the keyboard and they use their ad-hoc abbreviation system same as on paper.

    If you want to learn a version of Gregg — and again, I'm talking about learning just enough to be effective, no more — Diamond Jubilee is a good choice. There are tons of old school books out there, and they're cheap and easy to use. Most of the Gregg writers I've found – gals of a certain age – write DJS or Simplified, and they enjoy helping a new learner. Plus there are more DJS home-study courses on the used market — the ones with the little record sets — and that helps a lot. I'm using them now along with the high school and college texts.

    If you want a professional-level shorthand instead of an alpha-system, then I think you're right to go with Gregg with it's absence of line position and thickness requirements. You can write with anything — pen, ball point, marker, chalk, pencils of all kinds including a mascara pencil in a jam — and write on anything handy, the back of handouts at meetings, napkins. envelopes, paper cups, whatever. Not often required, but nice in a pinch. And people can't read your notes over your shoulder.

    When I started DJS this summer, I figured 100 to 120 words a minute would be about right. But now, after realizing how much time is required to reach that level, I'm guessing the cost/benefit for reporters may peak around 60 words a minute — quite sufficient for reporting work (and reachable with the alpha systems). The point is to be a professional-level reporter, not a professional-level shorthand writer.

    My $ .02 worth applies only if you consider shorthand as secondary to your principal work. If you're interested in shorthand, in and of itself, then none of this applies. Good Luck.

  2. Welcome Red to the group.  For journalism, Simplified and earlier versions are suitable.  However, as you can imagine, reporting requires higher speeds than office dictation.  This is done by lots of practice, learning not only brief forms, but also phrases and high speed shortcuts.  Since the achievement of high speeds in Simplified and DJS is done partly by using brief forms and phrasing from Anniversary, I would recommend studying Anniversary (or earlier) in the first place.   The file below describes the different versions of Gregg shorthand, as well as the different books (it's in the documents section).  I hope it helps.   http://www.msnusers.com/greggshorthand/Documents/gregg-shorthand-comparison.pdf

  3. Having been a long-time journalist/editor, I have always used Gregg shorthand for direct quotes, because, for me at least, it is more reliable than any long-hand abbreviated forms that I might write.  I get a little sloppy writing a's and o's and certain other letters in a hurry, whereas the discipline imposed by shorthand makes for more accurate writing (and thus reading).    I learned Gregg Simplified initially and think it would serve you well for speed and readability.  If you become a real Gregghead, though, you might want to go back to Anniversary  (which is really not too different from Simplified) and pre-Anny (my favorite), both superior in speed, but only if you're willing to devote plenty of time to study and have a memory like a blotter. Naturally, you will develop short forms for special words/phrases, and these can be as individual as fingerprints.   If you ever do really get Gregg into your system, though, writing it will become second nature and as easy as a stroll in the park. You'll find yourself writing absolutely everything (that no one else has to read) in shorthand.   Whatever you decide, good luck with it.  And enjoy your reporting pursuits–it's a fascinating thing to do!            

  4. If you are taking notes, virtually any version of shorthand (or abbreviated longhand) would be of help. I was referring above to verbatim reporting, as in taking down an interview or a speech, and not merely jotting down phrases.

  5. > I thought I'd look into shorthand and give myself about eight months to get this particular Gregg shorthand method down.

    I'm at 8 months now in Simplified, and 50 wpm is a shaky stretch, for what that's worth.

    If your lucky, you're a more gifted student than me, and have more than a couple of hours a week to devote. But I'll bet DJS would give you a better chance at seaworthiness in eight months.


  6. When I first began my study of shorthand, I started with Alphabet shorthand. I found it awkward because capital letters were used in forms throughout the sentence. Another alphabet-based system used phonetic spelling which I could confusing. I reasoned that (with very little acquaintance with Gregg at the time) that any system using alphabet lettering had to take longer than lightline or geometric systems because as you will see in Gregg and Pitman, whole words even phrases can be written with less hand manuevers than a single letter in longhand. Funny, I always thought the preference in this group was for DJ,although I knew many preferred the earlier versions. I suggest you look at the comparison summary offered in this website and choose the one you feel most comfortable trying. I went from Series 90 to Simplified to Anniversary to l916. Gregg in any epoch is efficient and appropriate for all sorts of uses. If you have spent a significant period on one version already, and you are satisfied , stick with it and master it! If you are dissatisfied for any specific reasons, these may lead you to a different Gregg style or out of Gregg altogether. I think style shopping should not go on for too long, because skill development takes a significant commitment of time and energy and must precede mastery. So the sooner one gets their act together, the sooner they can take their show on the road.

  7. A typical student should be at approximately 60 wpm after finishing the first manual (six months) — however, this is assuming that the student is writing and studying shorthand every day. So scratching 50 wpm in eight months with a couple hours of study per week is not bad at all.

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