Saturday, September 27, 2008

Obama won? I want to see for myself

All the important pundits are declaring that Obama won last night's debate, that he seemed presidential while McCain was just pugnacious.

Okay, but I'd really like to see for myself. I'd like to see the actual combat and make up my own mind instead of having it made up for me.

We don't have television up here at the Writer's Lair in the wilderness of upper Michigan. Oh, other folks have TV, but we don't. We depend on NPR (which, of course, I can't hear) and the Internet for our news.

Besides, we arose so early yesterday morning for the 8-hour drive up from Evanston that we were wiped out and went to bed by the time the debate began.

So this morning I went looking for streaming video of the debate. There's lots of it.

But none of it is captioned for the deaf and hard of hearing.

This is bizarre. All television news is captioned -- it's the law. At least in that venue those who cannot hear are not treated as second-class citizens, minorities to be ignored.

But the sun of enlightenment has yet to shine on Web news organizations. Not one single Web news outlet captions its streaming video. Not PBS, not the New York Times, not Fox, not Salon, Slate or Huffington Post. Not even the Chicago Sun-Times, where I used to work.

Over the last several months I've written to them all, suggesting that they think about proactively captioning their news streaming video before Congress makes it the law. Captioning -- either closed or open -- is not expensive. Doing so now would score a news outlet brownie points for good citizenship.

I have received NOT ONE REPLY, except for a one-sentence response from the Chicago Tribune: "We're working on it."

Pardon me, but bullshit. That's just a contemptuous blowoff.

And so I just have to trust the pundits. Obama won, didn't he? Didn't he?


  1. TRUST the Pundits!? Good grief, Henry, better to trust those skunks hanging around the Lair. At least those pole cats aren't so blatently biased about who they turn their butts toward - and you can even get rid of the smell with just a little Murphy's soap or tomato juice.

  2. I don't entirely share your opinion of pundits, but it's a close run thing.

  3. Sunday, Sept. 28: CNN posted a webpage containing both the streaming video of the debate AND a full transcript.

    It's not as satisfactory as captioning -- one has to switch one's view from text to screen repeatedly -- but it's much better than transcript alone.

    Baby steps first, I guess.

  4. Oops, here's the URL for the CNN webpage referenced in the comment above: