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SEVERAL articles on phonography have recently appeared in college journals, all of which advocate the study, and speak of the numerous advantages which students in particular would derive from a practical knowledge of the art. The time required to gain the knowledge is only vaguely spoken of, and the average reader would think that the easiest and most profitable trade to be learned is short-hand.
It is a great mistake to suppose that the student can use his knowledge of short-hand to advantage, and a greater one to think that it is necessary or even very desirable that he who intends to enter journalism should become a thorough student in phonetics. In the first place, phonography cannot be learned without hard study and continual practice, - a well-known fact, I presume, - and it is very seldom that a person becomes an accomplished phonographer in less than three years. But suppose the undergraduate can write short-hand, it is very difficult to get the necessary practice. In taking lecture notes there is no difficulty; the work is smooth and almost fascinating, but the work comes when the notes are to be translated into long-hand, and unless they are translated at once they are soon forgotten, and finally become almost unintelligible. If an hour is spent in taking the notes, commonly two hours will be spent in translating them. In journalism phonography plays an important part in its own department. No newspaper can be conducted without its corps of stenographers. They always command a high salary, and good workmen are always in employment, words requires all his attention, and it is generally the case that he cannot give any account whatever of the lecture, without referring to his notes. Thus it is obvious that the phonographer does not have the opportunity of increasing his general knowledge; that he cannot easily become the practical man that a successful editor must be; he is kept at short-hand, and smothers his ambition in his large salary. It has often been stated that there is hardly an eminent journalist living who has ever made a professional use of phonography. This fact, alone, should have great influence over those who seek to make a profession of phonography. There are at present many undergraduates studying phonography who, perhaps, will not accept these statements. Those will, I believe, who, like myself have diligently acquired a knowledge of the art, and have come to a knowledge of its many mischievous as well as its few desirable results.
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