Captions are Entertaining

The NFL sees protests across the country asking that the Washington Redskins change their name to eliminate the demeaning racist image their current name and mascot portray.

The team and the NFL should have a talk with the people who add the closed captioning to their broadcasts. The scene was this: Washington at Green Bay, kick-off at noon on Sunday, with a protest outside the stadium at the Oneida gate. Elsewhere, as people watched the game on their home or bar television sets, those with closed captioning saw the visiting team referred to as The Washington Red Cross.

Chuck kept channel surfing through his own station to make sure they were still on the air with their Christmas Eve mass. I noticed the captioner didn’t quite get the gist of it when I read, “…father, sun, and holly ghost.” Protestant caption-writer? Not Catholic, for sure.

Then I was watching NFL football with Amigo, and the live captioning referred to Carolina Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton as Cam Putin.

Let’s examine the possibilities here. 1. The network could have borrowed a captioner from the news staff, one who knows current events in Russia better than he or she knows the NFL starting quarterbacks. 2. The auto-correct feature (not unlike that on cell phones) may have grabbed the basic sounds and missed the first consonant. 3. Closed captioning technology hasn’t evolved as the need for captions and widespread us of captions has grown.

I didn’t include “All of the Above” as an option, but that’s probably the best answer. Captioning technology does have automatic fill-in-the-blank features. The people trained to write the captions that appear on our TV screens may or may not have knowledge of the main topic – in the last example, NFL football.

I expect transcribing live captions must be a challenging job. There’s no rewind or DVR when the announcers are commenting on fast-breaking action of a football game. However, it’s time. It’s time for networks and local stations to get serious about closed captioning. It’s time to go beyond just meeting the bare minimum requirements of disability laws, and time to provide a quality product for consumers.

Meanwhile, captions or no captions, it’s time for My Packers to rally around their quarterback, Aaron Rodgers!

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