Shorthand has been around since the 1800s and has helped journalists in tricky situations over the years.

But this is 2017. And in an age where we rely on our digital tools more than ever before, how useful is shorthand and do employees favour those with this skill more than those without? asked professional journalists whether they still use shorthand in their work or prefer to simply record interviews on their phones and transcribe them instead.

Natalie Walker, communities reporter at Johnston Press, said: "Everyone can interview someone using a dictaphone, but you can’t take them into court or inquests.

"So if you get sent out to do that job and you don’t have shorthand you’re going to struggle because there are pieces of evidence and statements that you need to get correct. If you have to write in long-hand, you’re going to miss an awful lot of information.

"You could also be liable for a variety of problems and get sued for defamation because you’ve got your facts wrong."

Walker told how her shorthand notes saved the day while she was covering a court case and was accused of reporting incorrect information.

"Obviously I couldn’t rely on my memory from 6 months ago, so I went back to my notepad and saw where I’d made notes of the names of the people who’d spoken. My shorthand notes saved me."

Shorthand doesn’t just come in handy for court cases – it can also be useful for relaxing your interviewees.

Nick Gutteridge, Brussels correspondent for the, explains how he uses his shorthand to get the very best out of his sources.

"If you get a voice recorder and put it between you and someone you’re interviewing, you automatically tense them up, even if it’s an interview on the record," he said.

"You want to make them like a chat as much as possible, so if you put a recorder down, people immediately clam up and become very conscious of what they’re saying because they know everything is being recorded and can be played back.

"Whereas if you sit there with a notepad, I think a lot of people underestimate just how much you can get down with shorthand.

"I find interviews flow much more naturally and find people are able to talk to you much more like it’s a conversation, and you’ll get much better quotes out of it than scaring people off with a voice recorder."

But what about applying for jobs – does having a shorthand qualification make you more employable?

Andy Ricketts, news editor at Third Sector, a website and monthly magazine which targets readers within the voluntary and not-for-profit sector, explains how having shorthand skills works to your advantage when applying for an editorial role.

"For us, it is something we look for when we’re interviewing and recruiting journalists. Shorthand is not an easy skill, you have to put the time in and practice, and I think it is a sign of dedication to the profession.

"It’s an invaluable skill to have, and a useful string to your bow to have on your CV when you’re applying for jobs."

If you've just started learning or want to improve your shorthand, check out Shorthand Sue’s Youtube channel where you can learn new outlines and build up your speed.

What other resources have you found useful? Has shorthand has saved one of your stories, or did you get to 100 words per minute and have never used it since? Tweet us your thoughts at @journalismnews.

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