Like many people I get my news on-line. Unlike many people I don’t hear very well. Over the past few years there’s been a trend toward offering breaking news in video format. Unfortunately the videos aren’t captioned.
Take today’s news. Yahoo offered a video simulation of the French Airbus that went down over the Atlantic with explanations of what may have failed. Oops– it’s not captioned.
I switch to CNN where correspondent John Zarrella reports from Rio De Janeiro, but I hear nothing. He seems to be standing on a windy bluff overlooking the ocean. Hotels in the background indicate he’s probably standing on hotel property.
I go to Fox News where Jonathan Hunt reports on Flight 447’s last moments and I watch as two men silently discuss something. Then a map pops onto the screen of South America with Brazil highlighted. The Airbus’s route over the Atlantic is shown with a thick red line that ends in a splotch of red and yellow in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. No doubt that’s where they think it went down. Another Fox video promises information about the infamous ‘black boxes.’ I watch as a Fox news reporter interviews Scott Brenner, identified as an “FMR FAA Senior Official.” I can see the White House in the background, so I assume he must be the guy to ask. The video then pans over a picture of the Atlantic and what appears to be a search party on a boat. Words at the bottom explain they are French officials looking for the black box, which can signal its position for thirty days. Next we see a yellow submarine underwater. OH! I get it! They are looking for the black box with a submarine!
As I’m switching through videos I see another breaking report with Jonathan Hunt titled “New Clues” His mouth moves excitedly on the screen. The flight path is shown again with “Missing Parts Found” in a black bar under the picture of the red splotch. AHA! I wonder if ABC News will fill in the gaps.
It so happens they do! I watch a video titled, ‘Recovered Debris Not from 447 Crash.’ The title says it all. A reporter in a bright yellow jacket speaks into her microphone from what appears to be an aviation control tower. Next, we’re shown a video of men with huge binoculars flying over a vast ocean. I assume it must be the Atlantic and they must be looking for debris.
A Google news clip titled, “No debris recovered yet from AF447” confirms ABC’s report. The same video with the search party over the Atlantic is shown alongside with a picture of a man in a suit. Underneath his picture it says, “Phone Interview” but I don’t know who they are interviewing or what country he’s from, and of course I can’t hear what he says.
I switch over to BBC News. Surely their videos will be captioned? Nope! Again they show similar videos as the American news networks– planes over the Atlantic and interviews with men in suits.
Desperately I turn to YouTube and put in a search for ‘captions flight crash’ which amazingly turn up subtitled video segments of Polish flight 5055 that went down back in 1987. It is only subtitled in English because the report itself is in Polish.
Finally I turn to Hulu. Sometimes they caption news and other programs, but there’s nothing on flight 447 today.
To sum it all up, I’ve gotten very little out of online video news today because no one has bothered to caption them for the hearing-impaired. Fankly I think this sucks. When is the FCC going to require online news videos to be captioned?