Another in a series of postings on CBC captioning (also see the separate page on the topic)

If the CBC can have a hostile external watchdog group blogging about it, a generally amiable external journalist now doing the same, and a nameless but priceless internal blogger, is this not an invitation to increase CBC coverage even further? Well, I think so.

Seasoned readers will be aware that I am engaged in a Sisyphean battle with feudal management at CBC and antagonistic petits fonctionnaires at the Canadian Human Rights Commission. The topic? CBC’s proven, and in fact uncontested, noncompliance with a human-rights ruling requiring 100% captioning on CBC Television and Newsworld (q.v.).

My previous mentions of this topic – which, by the way, would later require a 12,500-word rebuttal of CBC’s nonresponses – generated white-hot animosity among Anonymous Cowards. My three-year documentation project was dismissed as Post-It®–noted jotting (presumably by Peggy Zulauf, the oldest captioner working at CBC), while everything from my social skills to my employability was ridiculed by someone else (presumably Jason, the guy I kicked out of Webstandards.TO). (If I have incorrectly identified the authors, the true authors can reveal themselves – for attribution, by full name – and demonstrate their authorship.)

I can attest that these anonymous comments were fabulously effective at hurting my feelings. Good show! Now, how did any of that improve captioning at the CBC? How did it improve the presumed Zulauf’s job there, or the presumed Jason’s lot in life? It didn’t. Both writers, whoever they were, did, however, score points for malevolence.

But, you know, I’ve been in this business forever, I know more about it than they do, I’m right and they’re wrong, and I’m not going away. So, just as a little present, I thought I would discontinue my practice of keeping my ongoing notes on CBC captioning errors and omissions all saved up for a rainy day. Instead, I’m going to publish a running tally, which you can even subscribe to via RSS. Hot, right?

Can you say “openness” and “accountability”? Do you have sufficient social skills to jot those down on a Post-It®? (Why not take a picture?)

And kooky fun fact: The only straight male in offline captioning in Canada actually works at the CBC and runs a blog. He should be aware that I’m reading it since I’ve sent him E-mail inviting him for tea on two separate occasions. The blog address is publicly available should you wish to put in the couple of minutes max it would take to look it up.


(2006.07.05)    As I mentioned chez Ouimet, this is kind of a golden opportunity for departments within CBC to begin blogging themselves. Yes, I know, feudal upper management is scared shitless of the idea of employees actually saying what they think. That’s why they hired Maffin, a nice guy (he always wears a tie!) whom they can keep on a tight leash without even using a collar.

At any rate, my two proposed departments – captioning and engineering – have some blogging overlap, given the transmission irregularities in the translation of analogue captions into HDTV on the French network.

Screenshot shows interview segment with French caption: très trs rare. Il y avait ç, j'ais de l'acné

This is an unfair example in some respects, as dropped characters (nearly always in pairs, as you get two characters per frame and a frame is the most likely unit to be dropped) can occur almost spontaneously everywhere. But when they occur repeatedly during a show, as it did in this example, it means the tape got corrupted at some point. You can usually fix it by duplicating the original again onto brand-new media, but sometimes you have to re-encode (or, as the New Yorker and I would usually write it, “reëncode”) the master.

If you’re wondering why the single character è is missing in the above image when I just told you characters get dropped in pairs, understand that, due to lousy system design by monolingual American engineers, you need two bytes to transmit any character in the set àèâêîôû. Top that, Anonymous Cowards.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2006.07.04 14:42. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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