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

As I have suggested in recent weeks, CBC employees and managers should be blogging as often as is done at, say, Microsoft, Sun, or some other technology companies. (At the moment, CBC blogs about as readily as secrecy fetishists like Apple and Google.) CBC is the public broadcaster and it’s got a lot to say. I had given some examples of blog-compatible CBC departments – namely engineering and, of course, captioning.

Captioning is an object lesson in how a corporation can completely fail to get its own point across. CBC cannot even manage the task of maintaining a puny, stilted, defensive, self-serving, lampoonable, ancien-régime corporate Web page on the topic. (I did a lot of looking. There is a page on its Intranet.)

But we’re expanding beyond static Web pages, aren’t we? By refusing to blog about captioning, CBC allows somebody else to set the agenda – me. The only public discussion of CBC captioning comes from me and people linking to me, whether they be employees, supporters, or detractors of CBC.

(There are two tiny exceptions. A CBC captioner runs a blog; while it surely the most boring in Canada, it still reveals a lot about the sixth-floor captioning department. CBC produced a third-rate report on French-language captioning that I methodically dissected.)

Pretty much every deaf person is online. Alphanumeric pagers and instant messaging have nearly destroyed the need to use TTYs to communicate. Just like hearing people, the first place deaf people go to find information is the Web. Anyone who wants information about CBC captioning finds me first. Not only do I set the agenda, I own it. I am the agenda.

Now, at present that gives me an advantage, however slight. I am the only substantive source of information on CBC captioning. But CBC can and does still do whatever the hell it wants. I control the agenda, but they get away with murder. I have a lead, but not much of one.

Nonetheless, as a person with an interest in self-publishing, the Web, journalism, and related topics, I have actively encouraged CBC to start its own captioning blog and I’m doing that again right now. An advantage of blogging is that nobody necessarily controls an agenda; blogs are equidistant from each other and readers can evaluate all available points of view.

I am not articulating any novel observations about blogging here; I am merely pointing out the obvious to CBC, which has a habit of denying the obvious. (“Two plus two does not equal four! The CAB captioning manual says it equals five!”) A CBC captioning blog would give me competition. In practice I would still set the agenda and I’d still clobber them, but I wouldn’t be the discussion anymore. And that would be fine.

Things would get even better when other people, like deaf viewers, start to react to the discussion or begin their own blogs. This isn’t merely a “conversation” between the CBC and me; it’s a group discussion.

This could be a good time to elaborate on the duality of the CBC corporate psychology. Half the time they’re flinchers; half the time they’re stubborn.

  • They flinch whenever some right-wing asshole in Alberta claims CBC News has a liberal bias. CBC shivers and tries to appease these right-wing assholes from Alberta, who habitually advance the nonsensical and oxymoronic proposition that a public broadcaster be “privatized.” CBC engages in appeasement by scheduling the same kinds of TV shows the private sector runs and killing the only good show it has.

    Confronted with right-wing assholes from Alberta, CBC turns into a total bottom. CBC welcomes its new right-wing-asshole overlords.

  • Yet on other topics, CBC digs in its heels and insists that the sun sets in the east and the moon is made of cheese.

    • Da Vinci’s City Hall isn’t drawing a million viewers, a requirement that didn’t exist until it was cited as a pretext to shitcan the show. CBC replaces it with a third-rate stop-motion-animation series whose viewership could fit comfortably in the upper deck of a 747.
    • Confronted with years’ worth of data that they’re screwing up in captioning, CBC concedes its accuracy yet “disputes… most vehemently” and “disagree[s] strenuously” with any conclusions drawn about CBC’s commitment to its legal requirements. Its Ottawa laywer dismisses three years’ work as an “informal complaint.”

Flinching and stubbornness mean CBC loses control of the agenda. CBC is never out in front of a topic; it always reacts, either by offering to fall on its own sword or by spending thousands of taxpayer dollars fighting reality. This is no way to run a railroad, let alone a billion-dollar public broadcaster. Whether it’s CBC Watch or the Tea Makers or me, CBC cannot just sit there and let somebody else set the agenda. Because then we win by acclamation.

Quislings and smug bastards can’t be the only people at work at the Corpse. It’s time to get the rest of them online.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2006.08.07 13:03. 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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