Early in my journalism career, I was at a press conference when I noticed one of the reporters for a major New York daily frantically scribbling notes in shorthand -- a skill I foolishly stereotyped as appropriate only for executive assistants and other administrative types.

After the conference, I casually strolled over to him and asked if he learned shorthand before he decided to embark on a newspaper career, or did he learn it on the fly?

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